Customer service, when done well, can accomplish a lot for your business. Good customer service encourages trust, brand loyalty, repeat business, word-of-mouth advertising, industry reputation building, and more. You may choose to offer help by phone, email, live-chat, or in-person. Either way, using a call center is one of the quickest and most convenient ways to offer support.
If your business is leaning on call centers to do a lot of customer service by phone, then it’s important to monitor the quality of the calls. Understanding and monitoring call quality will help ensure the best for your customers. Building a call center team that is well equipped, trained, and knowledgeable is essential. This article will explore how to develop the best call center for your business.
Call Center Best Practices
- Implement the best tools.
- Establish standard operating procedures.
- Set call metrics.
- Hire the right representatives.
- Avoid finger-pointing.
- Use positive language.
- Establish call center etiquette.
- Have an extensive training process.
- Offer incentives.
- Use customer surveys.
- Engage with your agents.
- Stay compliant.
- Keep a knowledge base.
- Self-service or automate where possible.
- Be open to industry changes.
- Adjust to your business growth.
- Publish helpful content online.
- Encourage creative solutions.
- Follow up with customers.
- Do quality assurance checks.
1. Implement the best tools.
Equipping your staff with the tools they need will help them provide the most efficient service to your customers. Do research before investing or committing to the call center software and tools your reps will use daily. In addition, When you pick your favorite tools and begin implementing them, ensure you check for updates once in a while to keep them up-to-date.
2. Establish standard operating procedures.
Document clear standard operating procedures (SOPs) that define what is expected of your reps, on and off of calls, so that they can reference it at any time. These should also change over time as the call center changes or expands. Make this document easily accessible and review it with your reps annually.
3. Set call metrics.
Measure things like wait time, dropped calls, first call resolution, and customer satisfaction to know what areas need improvement. Once each rep has finished their training and been on the job for a few weeks, record their first set of metrics. Doing this gives them a starting point that you can compare their progress to on a quarterly basis.
4. Hire the right representatives.
Call center reps are the face of your business’s customer service. So, hire candidates with the right attitude, not just the right work experience. Solving a customer’s problem is good, but being able to make a connection and leave them feeling good about your business is great.
5. Avoid finger-pointing.
When a customer details a problem, avoid blaming another department or a previous representative. Instead, discuss what you can do now to fix it. Customers want solutions, not what they might interpret as excuses.
6. Use positive language.
If the customer has a demand you can’t fulfill, focus on what you can do for them instead. For instance, if you can’t offer a refund but can offer store credit, lead with the latter. This creates a more constructive experience for the customer and your reps.
7. Establish call center etiquette.
Simple words of politeness like “please” and “thank you” go a long way in customer service. This etiquette also relates to tone and patience with frustrating customers. Define the standards for your VoIP call center and properly communicate them to your reps.
8. Have an extensive training process.
There are potentially hundreds of scenarios that a customer could be calling about. Therefore, take your time preparing representatives for as many of them as possible. Also, consult with your current reps to determine any consistent troubles that you can start addressing in the training process to get rid of them before they occur.
9. Offer incentives.
When agents are doing well, reward them! Recognizing good work and progress boosts morale and feeds into employee satisfaction. Being a call center rep can also be stressful or draining at times, so it’s essential to foster a happy work culture with incentives and rewards.
10. Use customer surveys.
Having good feedback informs you of what’s going well. Bad feedback lets you know what needs to be fixed. Both are important for having a good call center. Offer quick, easy surveys for customers to fill out after they’ve completed a call with a rep.
11. Engage with your agents.
Frequently communicating with your agents helps you to stay in the loop. Your reps may all have a similar struggle or complaint that you may be unaware of. There may be an uptick in calls about a particular issue that indicates a more significant problem. Keep in touch with your reps to stay privy to everything going on.
12. Stay compliant.
Specific laws and regulations may apply to your call recordings and operations as a call center, so stay informed about the requirements in your state and ensure your reps have full awareness of what to abide by. Also, stay informed about any relevant new legislation or changes to current regulations.
13. Keep a knowledge base.
Maintain a database of important information for your agents to know. This should include where to find answers to their FAQs, company updates, or changes to how they should operate. Add or subtract information from this base over time to keep it concise and relevant.
14. Self-service or automate where possible.
Directing a call to the service rep trained to handle certain customer issues will save customers and your reps a significant amount of time. In addition, having an FAQ page on your site will alleviate call volume, but, when customers do call, ensure they don’t have to jump through significant hoops to get a real person when automating.
15. Be open to industry changes.
Industry standards will change over time, so be prepared. Continue evolving as a business and a call center. For example, omnichannel cloud contact center solutions have grown a lot in popularity; make the switch if it would benefit your call center.
16. Adjust to your business growth.
As your business grows, your call center should also grow. More customers equal more calls, so pay attention to your call wait time. If it starts getting longer and longer, hire more reps! Not doing so may overwhelm your current reps, so hiring more reduces burnout and ensures customers have enough support options.
17. Publish helpful content online.
A lot of customers will seek out your website before giving you a call. Give them the most common information they’re probably looking for on the site. This could include a list of FAQs, video tutorials, or step-by-step guides. Having more information available online will reduce the number of calls, ensuring that high-priority customer issues can take center stage.
18. Encourage creative solutions.
Ensure that your representatives know to stick to the script, but allow some inventive solutions to be applied if they come up with any. Promote thinking outside the box and fresh ideas. This helps customers always get a solution wherever there is one.
19. Follow up with customers.
Your call center will have to decide to do follow-up calls. They can be done immediately after a call or a few hours or days later. Ensure that their issue was resolved and ask for a review of the call.
20. Do quality assurance checks.
Have a secret or mystery shopper act as a customer calling your center and have them demonstrate a variety of problems your customers face. It’s important to know how your reps are handling customers on the day-to-day so you can ensure the best service is coming out of your call center, and this type of call will give you that information.
Call Center Training Best Practices
- Start with the best tools.
- Set clear goals & objectives.
- Provide detailed scripts.
- Keep well-executed and tricky calls for reference.
- Give feedback.
- Have quarterly training sessions.
The representatives in your call center are the frontline of your business. When your customers or prospective customers contact you for help, they should receive high-quality assistance. As you develop the training process for your call center reps, focus on the following best practices.
1. Start with the best tools.
Ensure that your call center is equipped with the tools your reps will need to best serve your customers. The technology should allow them to move quickly and efficiently through each call.
At the very least, your customer service software should allow reps to transfer calls between departments, mute and unmute the speaker, and add other people to the call. Ideally, the software would also include a dashboard to track specific metrics and maintain a detailed call log. Call barging, which allows managers or supervisors to join a call to help an agent, and call recording are also helpful features.
2. Set clear goals and objectives.
During onboarding, representatives should understand each step of the training process and what’s expected of them by the end. Knowing how to use each software tool, the metrics by which a call is assessed, and call center etiquette are a few points to hit along the way. Trainers should also be giving continuous feedback on how reps are progressing toward their targets.
3. Provide detailed scripts.
Speaking to strangers all day can be a bit unsettling. It can be a big comfort to call center reps to have a script they can follow for each call. Being prepared and knowing how to respond to various situations ensures the highest quality customer service. Scripts can also ensure that the information and service provided is consistent across all reps.
4. Keep well-executed and tricky calls for reference.
Recording calls that exemplify call center etiquette is extremely helpful for reps. Call center reps may know the metrics and characteristics of a quality call but hearing them in a real-world situation is a great way to help them learn thoroughly. Hearing actual calls can also help prepare them for the unexpected or demonstrate how to handle challenging customers.
5. Give feedback.
As your representatives are going through the training process, don’t leave them in the dark about their progress. Instead, communicate their strengths and weaknesses as you test their knowledge and practice with them. Describe how well they are applying what they’ve learned and how they can improve areas where they may be lacking.
6. Have quarterly training sessions.
Once your representatives have finished their initial onboarding and training, that shouldn’t be the end of things. All of your call center reps should go through quarterly training to ensure they maintain call quality, understand new technologies or processes, and be up-to-date with the latest problems customers may be facing. These sessions are also a good place to review any recent customer feedback and how reps are measuring up against the call metrics you have in place.
Call Center Script Best Practices
- Call Etiquette
- Friendly Greetings
- Transparent Recording
- Active Listening
- Show Empathy & Understanding
- Asking Permission Before Holding
- Wait Times
Crafting scripts for your call center representatives to follow will take some time, but they should be detailed, varied, and easy to follow. These scripts should include directions, such as who to transfer calls to and how to properly speak to each customer. The best practices below will detail what is important to include in your call center scripts.
1. Call Etiquette
Simply being polite is an integral part of customer service. Saying “please” and “thank you” and maintaining a consistent tone should be part of the script.
2. Friendly Greetings
The call should start with thanking the customer for calling. Then, the rep should introduce themselves and ask for the customer’s name and reason for calling.
3. Transparent Recording
Alert the customer that the call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes.
4. Active Listening
As the customer describes their problem, reps should listen carefully and ask questions about anything unclear.
5. Empathy and Understanding
Reps should always begin their script by expressing to the customer that they understand the difficulties and frustrations of the problem they’re experiencing.
6. Asking Permission Before Holding
Before putting a customer on hold, reps should explain why they’re putting them on hold and ask their permission before doing so.
7. Wait Times
If a rep has to put a customer on hold, transfer the call, request information, or call a customer back, they should let them know approximately how long the wait will be.
Before ending the call, reps should confirm with the customer that their problem was resolved and ask if they have any other questions.
Build a Solid Call Center
Many of the tools, training, and scripts necessary for your call center will be unique to your business. Tailor each element to your industry, common problems facing your customers, and the most effective solutions. Good customer service is essential to growing your business, so invest your resources into developing an efficient call center.