The year is 2019. Landlines are going extinct and the thought of calling a stranger makes some people break out in a cold sweat. With an array of instant messaging apps readily available, customers can now interact with businesses without ever speaking a word.

But, even as emails and messenger apps change the way customers communicate, a good old-fashioned phone call still hasn't lost much ground. The more complex the issue is, the brighter the phone shines. In fact, in these scenarios, 40% of customers prefer to deal with their problems over the phone rather than with chat or email.

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For many businesses, a phone support line can make or break their customer service reputation. Excellent phone support makes your company stand out and creates long-lasting relationships with your customers.

In this post, we'll discuss some tips your team can use to provide amazing phone support and improve your customer relations.

1. Highlight the need for phone support.

The best phone support systems are a central component of the customer service team. When phones are viewed as a core channel, it's much easier for agents to invest in phone support. That being said, since channels like email and live chat have become increasingly more popular, your business may have to discuss whether or not phone support makes sense for you.

Start with thinking about your business model and whether providing service over the phone fits with your goals. If so, why? Is it something that's common for your industry and you need to keep up with your competition? Or, do your customers prefer phones because customer problems are easily resolved over this channel?

Additionally, it's helpful to ask agents why they like phones and the benefits they see from using them. Some cases are much easier to resolve while using phone support, like technical troubleshooting, escalations and billing inquiries. Highlighting the benefits that your reps derive will make it easier to explain why they're needed for phone support.

Once you have your reasons, write them down and present them to your support agents. Knowing why their job is important will help them understand the intricacies of support operations and motivate them to perform at the highest level.

2. Make your support channel easily accessible.

Your support line should be easily accessible for your customers to contact. Customers love doing business with companies that make it easy for them to get help. In fact, two-thirds of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide a delightful customer experience.

When making your support line more accessible, you should consider the following factors:

  • How easy is it to find your phone number: If customers have to go on a treasure hunt just to find the number to call, they'll already be upset when they get a hold of you.
  • How long it takes for your agents to respond: NewVoiceMedia reports that customers will wait on hold for 11 minutes before the hang up.
  • Do you provide an omni-channel experience: Omni-channel support allows customers to switch between support channels as needed. This creates a more user-friendly and customer-centric experience.

Again, talk to your service team to see where accessibility is lacking. Ask them about roadblocks to their workflow and if they struggle to transfer a customer during a call. If so, you may want to consider adopting a help desk software to help you manage incoming customer requests.

3. Adopt customer service tools.

If you want your phone team to operate at its best, then they'll need the best tools at their disposal. The market is saturated with great call center software and other effective tools that can dramatically improve customer experience. With so many options available, choosing one that works for both your budget and your goals is relatively straightforward.

When picking a customer service tool, you should consider the balance between its internal and external performance. This means that your tools should benefit your customers as well as your agents. They should reduce roadblocks for customers and enhance the day-to-day workflow of your reps.

Integrating your call center with a help desk or CRM will provide more context to agents who are on the phone. For example, using AirCall with HubSpot provides agents with the complete history of every customer that calls in. Additionally, the call is logged into Service Hub, so managers can analyze incoming calls for common themes over time. You can see how this feature works in the image below.

Aircall Integration HubSpotSource: Aircall

4. Invest in customer service training.

Having a good infrastructure and the best tools won't mean anything if your agents aren't ready to jump on the phone. If it's their first time taking calls, support training is a must. Providing phone support is very different from asynchronous support like email or chat, because everything happens in real-time, leaving less time to make decisions.

When training phone support agents, begin with walking through the challenges and opportunities of phone support. While it's true that you have to be on your toes, it's also the best channel to connect more directly with customers and create relationships. There's nothing like hearing a customer's voice to really understand their frustration.

Next, align your team's expectations by documenting benchmarks that you'd like your agents to achieve. This will give them an idea of the quality of support you'll expect from them in this role.

After that, do a crash course on de-escalation. It can be more difficult to calm customers down on the phone because of the urgent nature of phone support. Learning how to de-escalate a situation through active listening can make agents' more successful during stressful customer interactions.

These tips should help any business provide excellent phone support and improve the service experience for its customers.

For more tips on providing excellent customer service, read how you can quell these common customer complaints.

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 Customer Support Training Template

Originally published Jul 2, 2019 8:00:00 AM, updated July 02 2019


Customer Service Skills