How to Improve Customer Service in a Call Center

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Keep your employees happyIt might be an upside or a downside, depending on your personality – but not being able to look your customers in the eyes is a huge disadvantage when you try to provide excellent customer service. There is one great thing with any call center; there is always room to improve. So the question I am asking today is this: How to Improve Customer Service in a Call Center.

I will provide you with these ten advices today:

  1. Don’t look too much at the numbers
  2. Technology
  3. People
  4. Troubleshooting
  5. Self-Service
  6. Eliminate unnecessary contacts
  7. Hire a coach
  8. Listen to the customers
  9. Play the blame game
  10. Be happy!

     

1. Don’t look too much at the numbers

The numbers are indicators and should never be considered the truth. Use the numbers carefully because the side effect is really bad service. Some service agents might get so caught up in answering the most. This could lead to short cuts and cutting off customers to early. You should try to improve the numbers, but NEVER at the cost of poorer service. Look for trends in your numbers. Are there peak times you can’t handle? Look for obvious seasonal trends. Make sure everybody knows how to work with numbers to avoid unwanted results. Look at trends, by hour, lunch time, days, weeks, months and so on. You might find that you have peaks you can’t handle or downs where you don’t use the free time effectively.

2. Technology

Do you have the tools you need? And does the technology give you benefits? Are there ways to improve how you work with them? Eliminate unwanted clicks and searches. No need to search for a customer if you could automatically trigger a customer database lookup based on the caller’s phone number. Bad technology might be a huge frustration in your call center. Listen to your staff and try to make some improvements. Find your top 3 improvements and work to solve them before addressing another issue. Here is a hot warning as well: How do you motivate your employees to come to work if their gadgets at home are more up to date then at work? Whatever problem you face at work, there might be a gadget solving that issue, it might not even cost that much.

3. People

You need a motivated staff. On average during my seven years in a call center I can claim that a demotivated employee is 20 % less effective, monotone in his voice and have a high dissatisfied customer rate. A highly motivated employee is 10 – 15 % more effective and has a high happy customer rate. You need to work with your staff every single day, providing feedback and engaging them. Make sure they all understand your goals and empower them to find solutions.

4. Troubleshooting

Make sure you have a good system for troubleshooting both for internal and external faults. You might want to use your ticketing system to solve customer issues. But as soon as the trouble is solved for the customer – do not close the issue. Is this an issue that can be prevented in the future? If so keep it open until the root cause is fixed. I know companies that stop selling a product if they find ONE faulty product, until they are sure that this isn’t a beginning trend. It is easy to keep sending new products to your customers, but it might be expensive in the long run.

5. Self-Service

Do you have customers calling asking for a copy of their invoice or order details? Create an online self-service portal and teach your customers to use it. Customers like to solve their own issues. Placing orders online, checking for ticket status, copy of documents and more. Online product information is also important. Any repeat contact made for your call center that could be online in the self-service center. But you need your employees to listen and look for those contacts.

6. Eliminate unnecessary contacts

A bit like self-service, but there is more to this. You might have a dead link on your website leading customers to a non-existing webpage. Either fix the link or remove it. Do you know that your customers keep calling because they complain about the package? Fix the package. Do they contact your call center because they can’t find information on your website? Make it easier to find it. There could be information missing, no user guide with your products. They can’t find your stores and so on. If you analyze why your customers is contacting you, I am sure that 10-30 % of your contact could be eliminated. How would that affect your call center? Yes this is a very important bullet point. What you should look for is illogical things your customers don’t understand, faults in your service/website/online presence. Combine it with a great self-service and you are making progress.

7. Hire a coach

You might not have the time to provide the time necessary to improve your staff and service levels. One of my best experiences I have ever had as a leader was when I decided to remove one of my employees from the phone and he got one mission: Make the rest 10 % more effective. I instantly reduced capacity with 50 handled calls per day, but he was successful and the rest of the team increased their capacity with about 150 calls per day, giving me a coach, freeing up my time, and the employees got more attention. A win win win situation resulting in the team managing to handle the amount without hiring more staff. As you see, this has a great payoff. Either use the talent in your staff or hire an external coach for some time. It is absolutely worth it.

8. Listen to the customers

You customers are not complaining, they are providing valuable feedback. As you see from many of the other bullet points here, you might find solutions resulting in better service, lower costs, happier employees and more. But listen with a purpose; look for things you can solve for the bunch. If we apply the Pareto principle the top 20 % of issues is resulting in 80 % of your contacts. So to be able to find this, you need to listen. And in combination with a good ticket system you have good tools to find out where you should focus your attention.

9. Play the blame game

One of the best things about working with customer service, you are very seldom the cause of the trouble. If your product department messes up a product, you get the heat. If your billing team is creating unwanted additional costs – customer service gets the heat. If your marketing department creates a campaign resulting in more questions than sales, CS gets the heat. Guess you got the picture? This is why the customer service team needs to find the cause of the problems and be able to make other department leaders accountable for their faults. If you have a good contact resolution system you could easily address where the problem spawned. And the customer service managers should get feedback and reports from the rest of the organization – “What do you do to reduce the number of contacts?” “Why are your numbers not declining?” – as a call center manager you need to get in this situation. If not, you might be the one who takes the heat. The call center is the best tool for any CEO that want information on what’s going on.

10. Be Happy!

Happy employees are producing great results. Make sure that the environment is good. Have some fun, arrange teambuilding events. Create time to improve and make sure that you have the best technological solutions. Redecorate the office once in a while. Be a little crazy, arrange a carnival at work, weird tie day, all dress in blue day. Be creative and have fun. You can hear if the person on the phone is smiling.

 

As you see, there are many aspects in creating a great customer service center. You can contribute even if you are an employee, manager or work in other departments. Everybody in a company can improve customer service. What is your best tip?

Thanks for reading – Have a great day!

Frode Heimen

Twitter: @frodeheimenI am on facebook too – Have you read my book? Becoming Great at Work – 120 pages of great advice!

Please do follow me on Twitter: I do not spam, and try to provide good motivational content. I am starting my own company this summer as well, so following me might be fun!

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2 Comments on "How to Improve Customer Service in a Call Center"

  1. Tips for improve customer service in a call center are awesome and interesting, technology is really very important in every field and happiness also important for calls.

  2. Yes, I agree with all your tips. We should always have time listening to customers, deal with complaints and to stay positive in the midst of trouble so that it will not affect on how you approach the customers. This article is helping our fellow call center agents and to other aspects of providing service to people. Call Center Philippines, a recognized service provider, aims to provide the best customer service that is cost effective and in high quality. With the great talents and skilled workforce, it will surely be the most sought-after call center service level by international companies.

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