Published November 11, 2021 Call center customer service: How to provide great customer service

Call center customer service: How to provide great customer service

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For many customers, dialing customer service is a dreaded task. Over the years, call centers have gotten a bad rap, associated with cheesy hold music and clunky interactive voice response (IVR) systems.

But the call center has gone through a bit of a renaissance lately. Business leaders are recognizing them as a critical piece of the CX puzzle.

That’s because customers will always need to be able to reach out to businesses when they have issues.

And those service calls are an inflection point for the entire customer experience. Even one bad experience could send a customer away for good. But when designed with purpose, call centers can help boost customer satisfaction and reinforce loyalty.

Today, service leaders are challenged with optimizing call center experiences while keeping costs low. It’s a tricky balance to strike, but not impossible.

Back to basics: 3 tenants of great customer service

Any direct interaction with a customer can be considered customer service. Whether you work the call center or the sales floor, you’re answering customer questions, and likely trying to resolve issues and create a positive brand experience. And all of that is service.

And the goal is always to deliver the best possible service experience.

So what makes great customer service when it comes to call centers?

  1. Empathy
  2. Expertise
  3. Ease

1. Empathy: Hear me

Great customer service makes customers feel seen and understood.

We’ve all been on bad service calls, where the agent was clearly trying to rush us off the phone – if we were able to reach an agent at all. But hopefully, we’ve all had great experiences, too.

2. Expertise: Help me

People reach out to customer service when they have an issue that needs resolving.

In order to deliver a great service experience, you need to help resolve that issue.

For easier, or more common issues, providing clear, up-to-date self-service content that guides users to the right answers may suffice. For more complicated issues, customers will want to talk to an agent.

Staff your team with the right people, who have the right expertise, and train them so they’re ready to help as soon as they pick up the phone.

3. Ease: Guide me

From finding the customer service contact info to reaching a solution, customer service interactions should be easy for the customer.

Remember: by the time they reach you, they may already be frustrated. Maybe their product stopped working, or didn’t arrive on time. Maybe they’re trying to do something online that seems like it should be so simple, but they can’t find the right tool to make it happen.

Make it as easy as possible for them to get to the right channel the first time.

INFOGRAPHIC: How to provide great customer service

Research shows that businesses lose a whopping $75 million due to poor customer service, while 68% of consumers will pay more for products and services with a company who has a strong record of good customer service.

Shifting customer expectations are a big part of this pattern. As customers have become more powerful over the past two decades, with many more shopping choices in an era of e-commerce, social media, and mobile apps, it’s easier for them to jump ship.Image of a clipboard with a checklist for providing a great customer service experience . Make service fast, deconstruct silos, automate where possible, engage customers with conversations about how they feel.

Call center customer service + satisfaction: Strategies and tactics

For a lot of companies, the pandemic put a spotlight on their call centers. Customers reached out to customer service in droves, seeking answers in the face of disruption and uncertainty. And service agents became the primary face of their brands.

As a key player shaping the customer experience, some predict call centers will take full ownership of all inbound customer interactions – including revenue generation and affiliate marketing operations on top of customer support.

So it’s more important than ever that you deliver a call center experience that makes your customers happy.

92% of adults in the U.S. say they’d switch to another company after three or fewer negative customer service experiences.

Source: Customer Service Expectations Survey

Discover the ROI of modernizing your customer service with Service Cloud HERE.

3 ways to improve the call center experience for customer service

  1. Wrangle your wait times
    One of the biggest call center customer service challenges is managing long wait times that test customers’ patience. Have a strategy in place to manage expectations, and remember: it’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver. Set up a virtual queue to predict wait times, or offer call-back services so your customers don’t feel tied to their phones.
  2. Know your callers
    Invest in tech solutions that make it easier for your agents to understand the person at the other end of the line. Equip agents with tools that help them know the caller before they pick up. For example, some customer service AI solutions can collect pertinent information as the call is routed. And customer profiles provide valuable context of the customer beyond the issue they’re calling about.
  3. Redefine success
    Call center agents are often measured based on the number of calls they take per hour. But that leads to customers feeling rushed, or passed around from agent to agent. If you want to boost the customer experience, you have to prioritize quality over quantity. Instead of calls per hour, see if you can measure success based on customer satisfaction, or issue resolution.

The role of the call center has evolved. Are you ready to deliver customer service that improves customer satisfaction, boosts loyalty, and drives revenue? If not, it’s time to get ready, or you’ll risk getting left behind.

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Kirsi Tarvainen

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