The principles of good customer service should be frequently re-visited – by call center customer service representatives and their call center services managers. What seems obvious can sometimes become forgotten.
Here’s Part I of a two-part series providing pointers on how to keep customer service alive and well:
1. Be Sure You Understand the Customer’s Problem
Customers can be inarticulate as they explain an issue or problem. They may be unsure of what the issue is regarding a product or service, they could be angry or frustrated, impairing their ability to be understood. For quickly and effective customer service call center resolution of the problem, the call center services representative must use effective communications techniques.
Open-ended questions – who, what, where, when and how – deliver good information because they require more than a simple one-word answer, while closed-ended questions generate confirmation. Use closed questions, which can be answered by a simple “yes” or “no,” to control the conversation and let the call center services agent move toward resolution. When additional information is needed, use open questions but use the word ‘exactly’ to get the customer to be specific about the problem being discussed.
“Can you tell me exactly when this problem started?’ as opposed to ‘Please tell me when the problem started?”
Using “exactly” will induce the customer to be more exact with their response, which will allow you to understand and address the problem more effectively.
2. Whatever you tell yourself – it’s true
You’ve probably heard the theory that the more you tell yourself something the more likely it is to happen. Tell yourself that you are good at your work and you may well become more focused and more effective. This simple act of telling yourself something and believing it delivers results.
It’s because when you start to believe something it manifests itself in body language and voice expression. So if you believe that your next call will get a disappointing result, the emotion expressed in your voice will convey disappointment and undermine your effectiveness on the phone.
No one calling a customer service call center wants to listen to someone who sounds disappointed on the phone. When it comes to delivering call center services, upselling and cross-selling, if you expect a bad outcome, the person on the other end of the phone will pick up on that and will refuse your invitation to buy.
Use this technique in a positive way. Tell yourself that you are great at delivering call center customer service and that your calls are getting better. Tell yourself you are happy, optimistic and confident. Get that feeling into your voice. That’s what your customer wants to listen to, and it will make them open to an informed decision to buy. Believe in your call center services skills and in your abilities. You will become more successful.
3. Smash your negative beliefs
Similar to point No. 2 is the importance of putting yourself in a positive frame of mind before taking a customer call.
It is uncanny how we can be enthusiastic and upbeat about handling a call and just as we are about to answer the phone a little voice in our head says something negative about the task ahead. Then, to no one’s surprise, the call does not go particularly well and opportunities for cross-selling or upselling – never mind delivering great customer service – are lost. Negativity becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Instead of thinking negatively, we should think positively and in the process trigger positive beliefs. Get in the habit of telling your brain: This could be my best call of the day. And at some point you will be right – there will be a best call of the day.
4. Be quick – every time
Consistency is important – consistently good and fast, that is. Pick up the phone by the fourth ring, use your skills to handle each call effectively and efficiently – thus supporting your First Call Resolution program goals – and keep your average talk time to a minimum. All of this require consistent focus, effort and call center customer service skill development.
5. Make proactive service contacts
Effective customer life-cycle management isn’t just about responding to customers’ requests – it’s also about anticipating customers’ needs and building on their consumer interest. It’s about being a call center customer service representative with active listening skills who responds to customers’ buying signals. Sure, they have called your customer service call center to place an order, but they could be in a buying mood and open to suggestion for other, complementary products sold by your client.
So why stop with the initial order? Suggest other products along the line of the one the customer has expressed interest in. Take pride and satisfaction in increasing the order size and maximizing your clients’ revenues. Go the extra mile with a proactive approach to call center services and sales. Think of every inbound call center call as a sales opportunity.
Mark Fichera, CEO
Call Center Services