Call Centres – What can we learn from them?

1Whether we love or hate them, we all spend time talking to Call Centres.  I am sure we have all come across those recorded messages of press 1 for this, press 2 for that, press 3 for a bit of this and that, and press 4 for anything else.

I am also sure we have also been in the position of hearing that friendly and polite automated voice of ‘your call is important to us’. You are probably hearing this message for the tenth time after being on hold for the last 20 minutes thinking if you care, why don’t you hire more people to answer my call. The less patient among us are probably cursing this message and by now probably forgotten who and why we called in the first place!

Anyway, if and when we get to speak to a real person I find it interesting how the large organisations dramatically differ in their approach in attempting to provide you with a customer experience which will potentially make or brek your relationship with them.

A regular good experience for me is in communications with Sky. You tend to wait an age to get through, however when you do, I find that the team member does welcome you warmly, attempt to build rapport,  proceeds to listen to why you called and then go about helping you. If they need to put you on hold, they ask permission and manage your expectations by saying how long they may be. What more could you want? You are speaking to someone at the company who can help you and the majority of the time they solve your problem, in the one call.

The problem…

For the call centre leaders it’s a dilemma. They either have technically trained staff to answer and solve your query on the first call but then you have to wait longer, or have non technically trained staff to answer, who resolve your query by contacting another team in the business. This in turn leads to:

  • A lack of ownership – If you can’t speak to the experts you will have a call back while a message is internally passed around to resolve your problem.
  • A complaint – Another two weeks have passed and you need to call again as you have heard nothing. This internal lack of ownership now makes you even more grumpy. So you make a complaint. This escalates your issue and low and behold it is solved in no time at all, as it’s generally a technically trained staff member who deals with the complaint.

What can you do?

Getting the right team members at the front line can be difficult. Here are five simple tips to help you get an edge on your competition when dealing with customer queries over the phone:

  1. Make sure every customer knows who they can speak to if they have a query and the number they should call
  2. Make sure your team explain to the customer the steps that are made to resolve the query – for example, how long it will take to solve the query, what happens if the customer is still not happy with the resolution and who will be overall responsible
  3. Ensure you have an internal measurement system to track and log queries, so you can then work on the processes to eliminate future queries
  4. Once the issue is resolved ask the customer how well your team did to resolve it and then openly communicate the feedback
  5. Reward the staff members who “go the extra” mile to ensure customers have a good experience when raising a query.

Remember : A complaint or query from a customer is a gift.

By Ian Sadler – Shopper Anonymous – North Yorkshire

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