Tagged in call center


customer-service-outsourcing

Customer Service Outsourcing: Award-winning Call Center Training Tips

October 31, 2018

customer-service-outsourcing

Your workforce is the backbone of your organization. Every customer interaction, every bill paid, every element of your day-to-day operations has a person responsible for it. When those people are given the tools they need to succeed from the start, your business thrives.

Effective training is critical for any business, but it’s especially important in customer service outsourcing, where the designated team represents the client’s brand and image. So, what are some of the essential elements of an effective training program? This was a question Windham’s human resources department examined closely, and with the support of the executive team, developed a comprehensive, effective approach to training our call center teams. Their efforts ultimately paid off, and landed Windham a Top 125 Training Award for 2018 from Training Magazine.

 Here’s how our team did it:

  1. Use the expertise on hand

Firstly, Windham capitalized on the resources we already had – in this case, a management team with years of customer service outsourcing and call center training expertise. We relied on these subject matter experts to help us create and refine our curriculum, from in-class training materials to role-playing to tests that would effectively measure each employee’s retention of the principles they had been taught. Rather than deal in the abstract, we made sure that the scenarios we used during training came from real-world examples our teams had addressed in the past.

  1. Recognize that one size does not fit all

Different people have different learning styles, and an effective training program is one that leverages that core aspect of adult education. Some employees learn better in a classroom environment, while others need a more hands-on approach to retain what they’ve learned. Our training program took all of that into consideration and provided a multifaceted approach to call center training and educating customer service outsourcing teams.

  1. View training as an ongoing process

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” Although often misattributed to Socrates, this philosophy is a driving force for our training teams, who recognize that the training process doesn’t have neat endpoints – nor should it. Our teams not only provide initial training for our new hires, but also focus on continuous improvement throughout each employee’s career at Windham.

We use customized score cards and deep auditing to identify areas where our groups are succeeding, as well as weaker areas that could be addressed by strengthening our training materials. This approach not only reinforces the initial training employees receive, but also provides clear pathways to advancement. We are far more likely to recruit from within for openings on our management and senior leader teams, as our employees have received in-depth training and already know Windham’s culture much better than an outside hire would.

  1. Engage, develop, and retain

One of the most important ways that our teams improved our employee training was to explore new ways to engage our personnel beyond just training. In 2015, we launched an internal program known as Dream Maker, designed to provide employees with tools and techniques to help them reach their financial goals.

In the ensuing three years, we have expanded this program to include a more robust financial education program called Financial Avenue, which includes structured, online courses to increase financial literacy among our workforce. These initiatives are designed to foster greater employee satisfaction while helping our employees achieve better control of their financial futures. A broader goal is that customers of Windham’s clients also will benefit from employees’ personal knowledge and experience in managing financial matters.

The Leadership Development Program, which started in 2017, is another employee enrichment program that has seen great success. The program is designed to provide training and professional development for members of management, whether seasoned leaders or newly promoted team members. Training is organized by role and core competencies, and includes skill building for driving performance, reducing attrition, and inspiring high-quality work. This further investment in professional development ensures we have a strong pipeline of future leaders for the organization.

When your organization is focused on the bottom line, it’s an understandable instinct to regard training as a luxury, rather than the necessity that it really is. The benefits for companies that invest the time and resources to develop a solid customer service training program, however, far outweigh the initial costs. Increased retention rates, fewer errors, and higher levels of customer satisfaction all stem from well-trained personnel.

The value of a multifaceted call center training program cannot be overestimated. By investing in your training group, you are communicating to your entire workforce that they matter, and that the company wants to give them the tools they need not just to succeed in their job, but to thrive in their career.

Want to experience the benefits of a well-trained customer service team for yourself? Learn more about our customer lifecycle solutions!

better-customer-service-phrases

7 Customer Service Phrases That Are Bound to Delight

February 14, 2018

better-customer-service-phrases

Effectively communicating with customers is an art, not an exact science. Using customer service phrases that delight customers and humanize interactions is essential for building rapport and gaining customers’ loyalty and trust. Some of these phrases may seem simple, but they hold tremendous weight for customers hungry for focused attention and answers. They leave behind a positive, customer-first impression that anyone can appreciate.

  1. Certainly, I’d be happy to help!

Seeking assistance can be awkward. Sometimes customers feel silly or even intrusive reaching out to your customer support teams. Being greeted by a friendly agent who is eager to help infuses the call with positivity from the start.

  1. Thanks for bringing this to our attention

When customers inform you of faulty products or service issues or even just a website glitch, they’re doing you a favor. They’re helping you with quality control and potentially improving the satisfaction of future customers. An appreciative thanks makes a complaining customer feel like an unsung hero for your organization.

  1. Thank you / you’re welcome

Despite being the building blocks of friendly conversation, these basic customer service phrases are used less frequently in call centers than customers would expect. Not hearing them can be jarring or even come across as disrespectful. Using similar phrases like “we appreciate your business” don’t always carry the same weight or sincerity as a simple “thank you.” 

  1. I’d be frustrated too

Customers crave empathy. When they’ve encountered a problem, of course they want resolution, but first, they want you to hear their situation and acknowledge how it impacted them. If they find you’re sincere in your understanding or that you can relate to the inconvenience, they’re more likely to trust that you’ll take the proper steps to resolve and prevent it from happening again.

  1. As much as I’d like to help…

There will come a time when a customer’s request is beyond your service capacity or maybe it just goes against a company policy. Whatever the case, if you must let someone down, it’s best to do it gently. “I can’t help you with that” is simply too negative. Starting with “as much as I’d like to help…” adds a little bit of courtesy and friendliness to the rejection or rerouting to another department.

  1. Let me look into that for you

When faced with a question they aren’t sure of the answer, too many agents simply say, “I don’t know.” Others will justify that lack of knowledge with a “Sorry, I’m new.” While that does make your staff seem relatable, it also makes them seem uninformed and unreliable. Looking into the issue further to gather the right information makes your agent seem less like a road block to resolution and more like a team player ready to go the extra mile to help a customer.

  1. I appreciate your patience

Customer service phrases like this are crucial, especially if you know your call center has longer wait times. Starting off a call acknowledging that you respect the customer’s time doesn’t change the fact that you kept them waiting, but it can diffuse disappointment and frustration. Like #4, they want you to acknowledge the inconvenience and be sincere about it.

Delivering high-quality customer service starts with the way you speak to your customers. Always strive for conversations over robotic exchanges. To achieve this, your customer service phrases should exude respect, appreciation, and kindness. That’s how you keep the conversation moving towards a productive resolution and keep your customers.

call center tips 2018

Call Center Dos and Don’ts for a More Productive 2018

January 15, 2018

call center tips 2018

Call centers and customer support are evolving at an incredible rate to keep up with customer demand, and 2018 will be no exception. As more brands acknowledge the value of call centers in growing revenue and retaining customers, your own customers’ expectations of service quality will follow suit. From the technology we use to interact with customers to the treatment of agents and callers, get ahead of your competition in 2018 with our list of call center dos and don’ts.

Technology

DO explore AI and cognitive technologies

Brand investments in AI and cognitive technologies within call centers are growing (a 2016 Business Insider survey showed that 80% of respondents want to implement some form of chatbot by 2020)—and for good reason. Bots provide tremendous value to growing companies by routing low-level calls and messages away from your agents, allowing them to focus on more urgent, complicated, or sensitive customer requests. This can save costs in training, personnel, and overhead, depending on how your call volume and drivers break down.

DON’T push your agents to the side

AI is not an alternative to live agents. It’s best used as a support tool for your team, so embrace a hybrid workforce that incorporates both. Bots are great tools for standardized, simpler tasks like assisting with product information and availability, answering policy questions, or business hours. More complex inquires, especially ones dealing with private personal information, still need to be handled by a live person.

Employee Happiness

DO pay attention to employee happiness scores

Yes, high turnover in your call center can negatively impact staffing costs (each individual turnover can cost a company over $6,000), but don’t overlook the cost to your customer experience and satisfaction. Losing knowledgeable agents can mean longer talk and hold times, increased pressure on your other agents, and more frustrated customers as new agents get up to speed. To keep employees happy at work, think about extending financial wellness programs, appreciation events, call center environment, and improved work/life balance to employees.

DON’T make changes without getting employee feedback

Employees will tell you what they want if you ask. Initiating engagement programs without feedback or understanding the level of employee interest costs you both time and money. You also risk looking out of touch by your employees. Find out what’s keeping your employees up at night and see if there’s a way your company can help.

Customer Experience

DO invest in user-friendly online experiences

The demand for chat, mobile apps, and self-service portals is rising. 73% of millennials prefer self-serve options and 66% of consumers overall would rather message support than call. If you’re planning to invest in chatbots, online experiences are a great deployment use and would align two major customer satisfaction strategies.

DON’T discount personalized services and support

Each digital interaction leaves behind a “breadcrumb”, small bits of customer data that can tell companies a whole lot about their behavior, demographics, needs, and wants. Using this data to route customer support calls can help companies provide easy, frictionless service that makes their purchasing decisions simpler and talking to customer service more pleasant.

Analytics

DO expand your analysis capabilities

Sophisticated and real-time data analytics can help you identify reoccurring issues in your processes and services. Better analytics means more constructive feedback to your agents and decreasing inefficiencies for your company. You can pinpoint your most popular communication channels and re-staff or re-prioritize accordingly.  Making informed changes across your call center operations to remove points where your customers are most frustrated shows them that you listen and care about their experience.

DON’T overlook call recording and monitoring

New technology is addictive, fun, and makes our work lives easier. While deep analytics are great for assessing long-term improvement, call monitoring and recording still reigns supreme for understanding agent performance. Big data can show you a call was resolved, but listening in will show you how it was resolved. Demeanor, empathy, tone, word choice, and rapport all impact the way customers perceive a call’s effectiveness and success.

Not every change listed here is appropriate for every brand. Whatever changes you implement this year, be certain they’re thoughtful and well executed on.