Tagged in customer service


Customer Service Outsourcing: Five Qualities of Solution-Oriented Teams

January 15, 2019


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

Building Effective Call Centers: Four Components for Success

June 5, 2018


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

Improving Customer Relationships: The Four Pillars of Proactive Customer Service

April 3, 2018


A reactive customer service model used to be enough for a company to survive. However, social media and the emphasis on customer experience has made proactive customer service essential to building a loyal customer base that helps a company thrive. Proactive customer service is rooted in responsive behaviors like adapting processes and technology to better suit the needs and wants of customers.

That kind of ongoing evolution requires departments across the company to be aligned—both in purpose and execution. These four pillars are the foundational elements that uphold the many complicated aspects of proactive customer service:

  1. Customer-Centricity

Becoming customer-centric means always focusing your attention on the needs of the customer. Every decision made should involve considering how this will affect customers both directly and indirectly. Customers are more committed to a brand when they feel respected and appreciated. Forecasting and monitoring satisfaction will only take you so far if you’re not committed to customer-centricity as a mission.

Companies collect a lot of information about the customers they serve. Analyzing this data for existing trends and to predict upcoming needs is a great way to get started with a customer-centric approach. Even departments that don’t directly interact with customers should still consider how their role plays into overall customer satisfaction.

  1. Customer Experience Monitoring

As more potential customers seek out reviews on sites like Yelp and Facebook, real experiences and reputation have become major criteria for purchasing decisions. For long-term success and growth, companies must actively and regularly monitor the customer experience so that existing customers stay and new customers feel confident trying you out.

Customer experience monitoring requires designing a customer feedback process. Truly effective processes include several ways for customers to offer their opinions. This can be done through many ways, including:

  • Customer surveys
  • Social listening
  • Capturing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) from calls
  • Reviewing queries entered in to your site’s search function
  1. Forecasting

Customer service needs ebb and flow, but some spikes and lulls are more predictable than others. Data like previous product launch numbers, web traffic patterns, and seasonal call volume trends allow proactive call centers to predict (or forecast) future needs and respond accordingly. This often includes increased staffing at high-need times or writing out FAQs and their answers to emphasize the consistency and accuracy of information given to customers. These practices can reduce wait and handle times—two huge pain points for customers—allowing call centers to remain cost-effective while offering excellent support.

  1. Continuous Improvement Focus

Sharing the gathered information helps steer management towards making intelligent, informed decisions. Companies can capitalize on what’s working well. At the same time, processes that irritate customers or create more work for them can be changed to serve everyone better. This can lead to cost savings and higher customer retention numbers. When customers know you’re continually working to improve their experience and satisfaction, they often express their appreciation through brand loyalty.

Together, these pillars create a firm foundation for more thoughtful and precise customer relationship management. Changes in service expectations and technology mean that even excellent customer service will continue to evolve as time goes on. Relationships between companies and their customers morph organically, and truly customer-centric companies must have the flexibility to alter and respond to new challenges and goals.


Featured image: Shutterstock/Itummy