Tagged in call center tips


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Customer Service Outsourcing: Five Qualities of Solution-Oriented Teams

January 15, 2019

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Great customer service, especially customer service outsourcing, is rooted in proactive behavior. Proactive customer service begins with empowered, resourceful, and thoughtful solution-oriented representatives who can think through scenarios independently and who feel empowered to offer suggestions that challenge existing processes. Outsourcing vendors with training programs that incorporate coursework to help customer service teams think critically and creatively can experience greater rates of customer satisfaction because they are nimbler and better able to handle more requests quickly and independently.   

Solution-oriented teams align well with and support continuous improvement methodologies. While many outsourcing vendors promote various improvement strategies, very few take that extra step to incorporate productive autonomy and creative problem solving into their call center management. If you’re looking at customer service outsourcing vendors and they exhibit these five qualities, you can be certain they’re focused on developing solution-oriented teams that will help set your call center apart.

They’re obsessed with hiring profiles

A successful call center with solution-oriented teams begins with looking at the candidates the vendor recruits and hires to handle your program. The best customer service representatives exhibit a genuine desire to help people, which requires a personality and demeanor to match. Politeness, patience, and sincerity go a long way in helping callers. While every organization has its own policies to follow and every industry has its nuances requiring subject matter experts, it is much easier and cost-effective in the long-run to train someone with the proper demeanor on this information than it is to shape someone’s personality.

They lean on front-line staff

Working directly with callers for hours a day, customer service representatives are invaluable resources when making strategic, outcome-based improvements. These team members are often underutilized during these processes despite being subject matter experts. They understand the daily challenges that create bottlenecks. They know better than anyone what’s frustrating their callers. To them, outcomes and data aren’t just numbers on a spreadsheet. They’re representations of the policies and actions that make their work lives either more difficult or more efficient.

They value empathy and innovation as routes to effective call resolution

In a call center environment, empathy and innovation work hand-in-hand. Ideas are the currency of innovation, and caller satisfaction thrives in environments where new ideas and approaches are weighed and explored. When vendors really believe in creating high-quality call center experiences, listening and thinking outside the box should be top skills they promote and continuously develop. They should exhibit true empathy with caller concerns and issues, making each caller feel valued and heard. But vendors also need to create an environment where those concerns are shared with leadership. Without consistent review, once-efficient customer service processes can grow stale and evolve into larger customer satisfaction issues or even contribute to employee turnover.

Flexible, customizable training programs

Developing representatives that thoughtfully analyze situations, think through different resolution routes, and understand the importance of improving value in the long-term starts at training. Training that primarily focuses on states of right and wrong or spend all their classroom time reinforcing policies and workflows risks falling flat once the trainees start taking calls. Effective customer service training strikes a delicate balance between process and skill building. 

Work with customer service outsourcing vendors who incorporate creative brainstorming and simple everyday critical thinking challenges into your training program. These steps encourage team members to challenge outdated processes and to weigh pros and cons before taking action. Building these skills from the outset and emphasizing their importance daily strengthens that innovative culture where flexible, empathetic, and solution-oriented talent thrives.

They encourage autonomy and understand there is more than one right answer

A primary goal of developing solution-oriented employees is getting to a state where representatives can rely on their managers for escalation but are largely equipped to understand when it’s appropriate (and more efficient) to tackle challenges themselves. Creative problem solvers understand there are many paths you can take to resolve an issue.

Being open to different ways of thinking and new possibilities can open up new pathways to increasing customer satisfaction, improving the efficiency of your team, and keeping employees happy and feeling valued. Embracing multiple routes to solving a problem allows each team member to work within their comfort zones while also tailoring solutions for the person they’re speaking with. Every caller is different, even if the issue presented is the same. 

Building and supporting solution-oriented customer service teams is no easy feat, but when leadership commits to working with vendors who mix true problem solving with great customer service, they open up more possibilities for boosting caller satisfaction in the most meaningful ways and building a more thoughtful workforce.

Featured Image: Shutterstock/RawPixel
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Building Effective Call Centers: Four Components for Success

June 5, 2018

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A high-quality, truly effective call center does more than just answer customer questions and resolve complaints. When properly managed, your call center can help drive profitability and customer retention. Regardless of whether you plan to service your call center in-house or outsource, there are four essential components you must consider if you want to achieve strong results and satisfy customers.

  1. People make the difference

The agents representing your company should be your priority. Without them, none of your other decisions really matter. Building friendly, knowledgeable teams takes time, but the investment in training and proper recruiting is worth it. If you don’t deliver a good call experience the first time, customers are more likely to criticize you online than they are to return. To avoid this, at a minimum you should:

  • Be represented by dedicated teams of experts who understand your industry
  • Ensure consistency from agent to agent with a robust training program
  • Develop plans for continuous development of those representatives as your company and industry evolve
  1. Build continuous improvement into your process

A defined process at the outset will help minimize service disruptions for your customers while reinforcing consistency. However, your process should also be flexible and adaptable enough to evolve as necessary to provide better customer service as customer demands and needs change.

That’s why it’s important to create channels, like surveys, where meaningful customer feedback can be collected. The main goal is to cure drivers of dissatisfaction that can lead to issues like brand abandonment or delinquency, although data on what customers especially like about their call experiences can become something to build from as well.

  1. Don’t slack on training and brand protection

Each customer interaction is an opportunity to protect or tarnish your brand’s public image and reputation. This largely boils down to your agents, which is why training and regular feedback are so important in building an effective call center. Your initial training should outline what a good call sounds like and achieves, creating a benchmark for performance. Then, monitor live and recorded calls for quality assurance and share your findings with your agents for improvement. Recurring issues should be turned into more formal refresher training lessons for the group.

  1. Leverage the right technology

Technology plays an integral role in your call center and is the foundation for efficiency. The right tools can help you:

  • Staff smarter
  • Assist with call monitoring and quality control initiatives
  • Capture customer feedback to make informed changes
  • Reduce customer effort
  • Improve “contactability” – your customers are more likely to reach you when you offer the communication channels they prefer
  • Streamline your customers’ inbound calling experience

There’s a lot that you can (and need to) accomplish. Because your call center will continually evolve, it’s important to focus on flexibility first when choosing technology. Keep in mind that these tools are only as effective as the people managing and using it. It’s a big spend area that usually leads companies towards call center outsourcing because vendors already have this technology on hand and know how to best implement them for your needs.

An effective call center is a strategic advantage for businesses in today’s competitive and crowded markets. A call center that drives profitability and customer satisfaction doesn’t happen by accident, though. Whether you dedicate the time and resources to manage your call center in-house or choose to keep things simple and outsource, balancing these four areas is crucial to building the kind of call center that will delight customers and improve your business.

 

Featured Image: Shutterstock/nmedia
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7 TED Talks to Inspire Customer Service Call Center Leaders

March 1, 2018

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Delivering high-quality customer service requires a passion for innovation and staying current with fluctuating trends and evolving demands. TED Talks are a great source for focused information and “out of the box” thinking that can transform your customer service call center.

With each one clocking it at eighteen minutes or less, these seven bite-sized presentations are perfect for busy call center leaders. Some address customer relationships and management directly, while others provide more abstract and inspirational guidance. All of them, however, can help you tackle customer service call center challenges in new and thoughtful ways.

  1. Leveraging customer feedback to develop superior service

Andy Porter discusses the role of customer feedback in developing stronger customer service. He breaks the complicated process down into three steps: gathering, sharing, and discussing. One of the best parts of this twelve-minute video is when he sheds new light on the sales mantra “the customer is always right” and how that often leads to the mishandling of negative customer feedback.

  1. Outstanding customer service starts with your employees

Former CEO of HCL Technologies, Vineet Nayar, makes an impassioned plea for putting your customers second instead of first. Why? It sounds counterintuitive, but Nayar proposes that satisfying, unique customer experiences can only be delivered by engaged, satisfied employees. Innovation and market differentiation doesn’t only apply to your products. Now it extends to your team members and how you treat them.

  1. Managing organizational transformation in the era of constant change

Jim Hemerling of The Boston Consulting Group acknowledges that business transformations can be exhausting, but much of that has to do with the timing of the change and the processes we use to handle those changes. Using Hemerling’s five people-centered strategic imperatives, your changes can be less time consuming and more cost-effective while delivering better results.

  1. Ask and engage to build stronger customer relationships

Amanda Palmer, a professional musician, recounts the many times she’s turned to her fan base, asking for support and input on her projects. That process of inclusion has ultimately led to a stronger bond and greater financial success. She argues that asking establishes a connection and connection builds trust simply because everyone likes to feel included in the decisions that ultimately affect them.

  1. Relevance and spreading ideas

Seth Godin, best-selling author and modern marketing guru, emphasizes selling to the right people over trying to sell to everyone. When you try to sell to everyone, you risk delivering nothing of value to anyone. Attracting the right customers and keeping them engaged boils down to relevance and building remarkable experiences that are worth sharing with their like-minded friends and families.

  1. Choice overload and the no-decision-making process

Sheena Iyengar, a distinguished Columbia Business School professor, highlights “choice overload,” a paralysis that occurs when customers are faced with too many choices. She notes how one grocery store thought providing more choices, like 75 kinds of olive oil, would attract more customers and therefore increase sales. However, she frequently left the store with nothing simply because she couldn’t decide. Through a series of experiments and data analysis, Iyengar exposes why a little choice is good, but too many choices are a detriment.

  1. Delivering experiences with brand authenticity

Best-selling author Joseph Pine urges brands to reconsider the definition of economic value, going beyond mere price points. Unique, customized experiences that make customers go “wow” are what distinguishes brands today. Customers want products and services that create memorable, remarkable moments that also ring with authenticity (think Disney). That’s where Pine says things get a little difficult. There’s what’s authentic to your business, and then there’s what your customers consider authentic.

Improving your customer service call center begins with understanding your customers and what they consider valuable. That definition of value changes over time, and it’s up to you to keep up. TED Talks are just one of the ways you can stay innovative and current.

About the Writer

Stephanie Libby is a Content Marketing Specialist who’s been a part of the Windham Team for nearly 8 years with experience ranging from front-line collections to RFPs and copy writing. When she’s not raving about the newest and best ways to advance your business, you can find her with her nose in a good book.