What is a Call Center?
A call center is a form of live phone support that acts as a direct link to an important part of your business—your customers. With that, call centers also provide a way to increase sales, answer customer queries in real time, and improve customer service.
Call center tasks include handling phone calls, providing technical support, and addressing customer queries in a timely manner. New call center technologies are continually making call centers more efficient to operate and help boost their bottom line. Some call centers focus on customer service and customer relationship management (CRM) efforts for large-scale organizations, while others specialize in lead generation efforts. Your local business can do both!
When more than 76% of your customers want to connect with your business through phone support, it’s imperative that your live phone support provides a positive customer experience. In this article, we’ll cover 10 important customer support tips and tricks for your customer service team!
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10 Essential Customer Service Tips for Call Center Agents
Ready to provide better customer experiences and take your agent performance to the next level? These call center tips will help you ensure your customers feel delighted with their interaction with your customer service representatives:
- Be personable (all about the human element)
- Communicate hold and waiting times
- Keep the tone light and friendly
- Don’t ignore the power of note-taking
- Restate the customers’ issue and provide clear steps for resolution
- Keep your most common FAQs ready
- Track your metrics and collect data
- Don’t interrupt a customer and engage in active listening
- Offer to follow up through a separate communication channel
- Don’t hesitate to escalate a situation or ask for help
1. Be personable (all about the human element)
If customers wanted a self-service option, they would not be calling your business!
Customers are routed to contact centers to receive direct and personal assistance from a company representative. Customers rely on your customer service agents to help them solve problems and answer questions, so it’s important that a customer feels as though they’re being helped by a real person.
To provide this level of service, it’s essential that call center agents use a hospitable tone of voice that helps your customers feel at home. Additionally, ensure your agents are keeping the human at the forefront of all their interactions. This means they should:
- Introduce themselves with their name
- Use the customer’s name whenever possible
- Ask personal, but appropriate, questions to get to know the customer
- Showcase positive language
- Be lively and well-informed
2. Communicate hold and waiting times
Customers who call you won’t be amused if they have to wait in line for too long a time without even knowing how many customers are ahead of them in the queue. Simply put, your customers don’t want to be put on hold for a long time, in any case.
If customers do have to wait to be helped, your support team should clearly communicate how long it will take for agents to get around to addressing the customer’s needs.
Bonus tip: Be specific when providing wait times. Instead of asking a customer to “please hold,” tell them when exactly they can expect to be serviced. You can mention that the next customer support agent will be available in X-amount of minutes. Alternatively, you can notify them of how many customers are ahead of them.
3. Keep the tone light and friendly
When speaking to customers, your agents should have a positive attitude. They should speak in a calm and light tone, even if callers are not so friendly. Train your agents to emulate your business values and brand tone by staying warm and personable on the calls. Customers call in to receive assistance with various problems, so call center agents should never raise their voices or be rude to them.
4. Don’t ignore the power of note-taking
Train your agents to listen carefully, put their ears to work, and take notes. Your business should keep notes outlining the customer’s problem, any specific dates and figures, and the call center agent’s suggested solution. Collecting this information will help callers feel as if their problems are being adequately addressed, and it will ensure call center agents provide better service next time around!
5. Restate the customers’ issue and provide clear steps for resolution
Restating the customer’s issue back to them is called mirroring, and it gives customers the confidence that you are taking their issue seriously and also gives them the opportunity to add any details that might’ve been missed. Afterward, provide actionable steps to resolve the issue.
Bonus tip: Once their issue has been resolved, call center agents should call customers back and ask for feedback. This is a good gesture on part of your business, and your customers won’t feel left in the dark post-resolution.
6. Keep your most common FAQs ready
It’s frustrating and inconvenient for callers to have to wait for a call back while the agent researches FAQs. It might come off as unprofessional, incompetent, and even cause the customer to drop the call. To avoid this, all support agents should be ready to address the most common FAQs and issues callers have. Write a list of questions that always seem to get asked (as well as their answers) and a handy knowledge base handy for agents to refer to.
This reference material can include information on services, products, prices, locations, and more.
7. Track your metrics and collect data
Call center agents should track metrics and customer data each day, as it provides an excellent opportunity to measure customer satisfaction, lead information, and more. Your agents should never neglect monitoring call lengths, the amount of time it takes for call centers to answer calls, and other critical KPIs during customer interactions.
Bonus tip: Your local business can later use marketing automation tools and drive significant strategies for your sales growth with these insights!
8. Don’t interrupt a customer and engage in active listening
Your agents should actively listen and give customers the floor to express themselves. Callers will need to feel heard before you can address their issues, so call center agents should never interrupt callers mid-conversation to interject or defend themselves.
Once the customer has expressed his or her concerns and is finished talking, agents can then ask clarifying questions to make sure they truly understand the customer’s problem.
9. Offer to follow up through a separate communication channel
Never underestimate the power of follow-ups. Call center agents should follow up with customers once the call has ended. Ask the customer what is their preferred channel of communication, such as live chat or SMS, and have the agent reach back out to follow up.
90% of customers actually prefer an omnichannel experience. Offering multiple options for follow-ups is a great way to ensure customers get their outstanding issues taken care of!
10. Don’t hesitate to escalate a situation or ask for help
When required, your agents shouldn’t hesitate to escalate the issue to another department or call center manager. Escalation should be a last-ditch effort, but sometimes it’s the exact thing needed to retain the customer. For this reason, call center agents should be comfortable asking for help from their manager or other agents when they are dealing with a particularly challenging call or difficult customers. Supervisors may be better placed to provide the solutions, rather than an agent bluffing their way through the call.
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