When it comes to managing and maintaining positive customer relationships, call centre staff have a massive role to play. Although some consumers might pick up the phone for straightforward queries or minor problems, several will require immediate and essential help, which employees need to handle in the right way.
A lot of the time, callers will be angry and irate about their product or service, which requires calmness and composure. Then again, those experiencing technical issues will need well-informed and knowledgeable staff to offer up easy-to-understand advice, which isn’t exactly unchallenging down the phone.
However, these call centre aspirations and obstacles can be achieved and overcome by introducing an interactive customer service. Taking the time to train staff about the importance of engaging with callers can improve satisfaction levels and also fill employees with greater confidence.
Strong lines of communication will undoubtedly lead to an increase in customer retention and loyalty too, as they will feel more appreciated, respected and valued. But how can you create interactive customer service in call centres?
Well, in many respects, it all comes down to training. When teaching your staff about connecting and bonding with people down the phone, be sure to bear the following things in mind.
Regardless of whether call centre staff are dealing with enquiries or emergencies, customers will want to be greeted by a polite and proficient individual. First impressions are crucial and could well dictate how the rest of the call will go.
So, you will need to teach staff about sounding accomplished from the get-go, ready to answer questions and solve problems in a prompt and professional way. Think about coming up with a greeting template that staff can memorise and use for all future calls.
The last thing a customer service representative will want on their next call is a rude and ill-mannered individual, but unfortunately this is part of the territory. However, your staff cannot stoop to this level and must practice the right phone etiquette at all times.
By acting and sounding collected, there is every chance the customer’s attitude will change and the call can be managed in a much more amicable way. Remember that these staff are the face of the business for many people and will always need to reflect the company’s culture and core values.
Building a rapport as quickly as possible
This can be quite difficult if the caller is feeling distressed or suffering from a major problem, but building a rapport with customers as quickly as possible should be one of your training priorities. By doing so, problem solving and diffusing difficult situations is much easier.
Employees should be emphasising the point that they are there to help and provide assistance in any way they can. Encouraging collaboration between both parties through strong and warm relationships should result in higher levels of interaction and engagement as well.
This is where you can start to truly establish an interactive customer service in call centres, as communication needs to be two-way. By placing an emphasis on listening, the customer knows their concerns are being taken into account and will feel more satisfied as a result.
But training your staff to listen is not just limited to keeping their mouths shut. Employees will need to ask clarifying questions and take notes but not interrupt customers when explaining their issue or inquiry.
To do this, your members of staff might have to ask more questions than the customers themselves. But by asking questions, employees can be sure they are on the same page as the customer and facilitate a mutual understanding between both parties.
Customer service representatives should reiterate the caller’s main issues or complaints but also exercise patience and understanding to avoid any unfortunate escalations.
According to a recent study of service interactions in a call centre, offering personalised information to the customer was the most important factor in rating the quality of their experience. So, come up with some questions your staff can ask and deliver tailor-made answers accordingly.
If this is too difficult or challenging to implement, consider introducing some call centre software that displays relevant customer details such as their name, company, previous interactions and purchases as well as any recordings or voicemails.
In the same article as above, research has found that autonomous agents are more capable of effectively addressing customers’ needs by being flexible, responsive and personal. Therefore, there may be a case to ditch that stringent script in favour of something more adaptable.
If you train your employees in problem-solving techniques and how to personalise their approach to calls, your customers are sure to be more satisfied and receive a better quality of service.
When seeking out help or advice, customers don’t want to be greeted with phrases like “I don’t know,” “you should have done this,” or “calm down,” as this kind of language will only exacerbate the problem.
Instead, use word softeners like “Let me find out for you,” “I understand what has happened,” and “I will help you find a solution.” This can improve and enhance customer interactions but still provide effective solutions for the caller.
Refer back to the Six Basic Needs of Customers
Numerous training programs will look at the Six Basic Needs of Customers, which can be referred back to and always relied upon when attempting to establish a more helpful and engaging call centre. These are:
- Friendliness - From the moment the call is answered to when the phone gets put down, staff need to be friendly and courteous with every single customer.
- Empathy - Employees must understand and appreciate the customer’s circumstances and position without criticism or judgement.
- Fairness - Customers are entitled to feel aggrieved if others have had their problems handled in a better way, so treat all callers as equal.
- Control - Although staff might hold the answer, customers will want to have an input on the decision-making process and feel like their opinion counts.
- Options - To provide customers with greater control, give them options and alternatives.
- Information - Staff must demonstrate their knowledge and expertise, as customers require as much information about products, services and policies as possible.
If you bear these needs in mind and implement every other piece of the aforementioned advice, there is no reason why you can’t turn your call centre into a more interactive and engaging environment, which the customer can benefit from in a number of ways.