With the market so competitive, it’s never been more important to ramp up your customer service game. Here are our top customer service tips to help your cause.
What’s one of the biggest ways you can improve customer retention and stand out from your competitors?
The answer is your customer service.
Your business can provide customer service through several channels. However, your phone support is one of the most important and customer-facing channels that need the most attention.
Phone support agents are typically the most consumer-focused part of your business, and it’s never been more important to get your phone support up to standard.
That’s why this blog post pulls together the very best customer service tips that your call center agents can use to retain as much business as possible.
Whilst interactions have diversified over recent years, with customers communicating via email, live chat, post, and social media as well as over the phone, a personal, human response remains crucial to success.
So we’re going to take a look at:
- How to effectively equip your agents
- Key tips to look out for during customer calls
- How to close conversations and follow up interactions
First off, what’s the aim?
Whenever a customer contacts your business, they have some kind of problem. It might be something significant, like a full system breakdown, or it might be a quick question about billing.
Regardless of its scope, you want the caller to leave that conversation feeling satisfied that they’ve been listened to and understood, every time. That tangible steps have been taken to resolve the issue by someone who cares about getting it sorted.
Ideally, the issue has been solved in one call, but if not, they’ll feel confident that steps will be taken after the call to problem-solve.
So how can you give yourself the best chance of doing just that?
Equipping your agents with the right tools
In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Consistently high-quality interactions are key to success, and that means giving your agents the right equipment for the job.
1. Have a good customer database, and make maximum use of it
How many times have you been put on hold while a customer service agent “finds your file”?
Immediate access to relevant, useful information on a caller goes a long way to making interactions seamless, swift, and ultimately satisfactory. As well as the basic name and contact data, your database should also include the customer’s full communication history, complete with all previous tickets and notes.
That level of detail will allow agents to get up to speed fast, and get straight to the heart of the caller’s problem. There’s a direct correlation between the speed at which a solution is found and the customer’s satisfaction level, so making sure agents have all the resources they require in a well-organized system is essential.
2. Audit your tool rack
With that in mind, it’s worth regularly checking through your resources to see what’s working, and where there’s room for improvement. The ways customers reach your company change all the time, so you need to keep adapting too.
Is there a new screen-sharing integration that would make problem reporting easier? Or could you build a product diagnostic tool to give your agents a quick and detailed report? By analyzing call patterns and common fixes, you’ll find ways of making problem-solving smoother and less troublesome.
Equally, keep an eye out for overload. There’s no use adding functions for their own sake, so don’t be afraid to strip away anything that’s slowing the process down. If something isn’t working, fix it or kill it.
3. Make it easy for customers to reach you
This might seem counter-intuitive these days, with so many large corporations attempting to hide their customer service number behind layers of automated assistance. But whilst some automation is worthwhile, there’s no true replacement for speaking to a person.
By engaging customers earlier your team will find themselves advising as much as fire-fighting, which creates an active relationship with the caller. You’ll learn much more about their needs and opinions, so make your number accessible, then answer each call within three rings.
4. Break the autopilot
To stay actively engaged in conversations, agents need variety. Breaks might include short walks, time to stretch, or simply a moment to look out of a window. 87% of 1,073 business leaders recently surveyed found that prioritizing worker happiness gives a competitive advantage. So keep your staff relaxed, happy and engaged. They’ll do their job better, and your profits will reap the rewards.
By keeping training updated and using non-intrusive call monitoring you can keep an eye on the results.
How to get the call just right
The biggest part of customer service is how the conversation happens with the customer. If the conversation and the resolution delivered delights the customers, it is a stamp of approval for great customer service. Here are some ways how you can get a customer service call just right.
5. Show empathy
This is essential for agents to approach calls in the best way. It’s impossible to know what’s going on in your caller’s day: they might have had a terrible morning or be in a huge rush. If they’re flustered or upset, it’s not personal, and it’s important to offer them answers and solutions in an effective manner.
The best thing to do is align yourself with their needs: you’re on the same side, working together to solve the issue. By making it collaborative and using positive language, you’ll show that you care about their problem, and are working hard to allow them to continue with their day.
6. Be polite
Agents should never allow their mood to affect the service. Stay polite, and use the customer’s name, with the correct pronunciation. Don’t interrupt them, and if you need to ask them to do something, make sure it’s a request, not a demand.
7. Give clear information
If you need to put the caller on hold, explain why, how long it’s likely to be, and thank them for patiently waiting. Don’t be afraid to use short holds to track down a piece of information, especially if it will help to resolve the problem on the first call.
The same applies to transferring the caller. Explain why you’re doing it, and make sure the new agent is prepped with the customer’s name and the reason for their call.
Finally, avoid jargon, keeping your language straightforward, professional, concise, and clear.
8. Practice active listening
When we call a helpline, we all want to be understood. To demonstrate that, reflect their main concern back to them, asking meaningful questions that help you understand their struggle. This shows your genuine interest and engagement. If you need to clarify something, it can be good to explain why you’re asking the question.
By ensuring you understand their needs before you start to problem-solve, you might even be able to provide a more comprehensive solution than the temporary fix that seems obvious at first.
9. Be proactive
Most callers want to see active steps taken to resolve their issues. Not only should you keep the process moving, but also look for ways to give them something extra. Speed isn’t the only metric here—that extra piece of advice or those additional few minutes can significantly affect the caller’s long-term relationship with your business.
10. Empower the caller
If you can keep the customer involved in the process, they’ll likely feel far more satisfied by the interaction. Give them enough information to make informed decisions along the way, highlighting the upsides and downsides of each option. Together, that will build trust and make them feel in control.
11. Dealing with a tricky customer
If you find yourself in a difficult situation with an unhappy, impatient, or demanding caller, it’s important to stay calm. Apologize, accept responsibility, and then keep listening. That way you can provide them with clear information that can solve their problem.
How to wrap up a call
12. Summarize what happened, and the follow-up steps you’re going to take
The end of a call is a good chance to offer to follow up with the customer on another channel and to confirm what further communications they’ll receive. If the issue hasn’t been fully resolved, this tip is especially relevant.
13. Ask if there’s anything else you can help them with
Customers don’t want to feel like they’ve been cut off, but nor should your calls drag on. Asking a simple question will not only give them space and ensure nothing gets missed, but it will also act as a polite signal, allowing for a clean, professional end to the interaction.
14. Make clear notes
A thorough call log is crucial so other agents can pick up the trail. Take the time to clearly state what happened in the call, as well as any follow-up actions you have planned.
A call for better customer service
There has never been a time in history where customer service has been so pivotal to business growth. It has also become a staple ingredient for boosting loyalty and for improving customer retention rates.
When it comes to delivering customer service, your call center is perhaps the most important channel through which you can delight your customers. Even with the best customer support agents on your side, delivering stellar customer service is not an easy task.
With your agents properly prepared thanks to these customer service tips, you’ll be able to provide a far richer and more satisfying experience to everyone who engages with your company.
Have any more customer service tips up your sleeve? Sharing is caring. Drop them in the comments below and let the world become better at providing customer service.
Illustrations by Mahalakshmi Anantharaman
Freshcaller is a modern-day cloud phone system for customer support, sales, and remote working teams. With its cloud-based architecture, Freshcaller brings together the best of legacy features like IVR and advanced call routing capabilities like Smart Escalations, Customizable Performance Reporting to help you set up state-of-the-art phone operations. Freshcaller offers phone numbers in 90+ countries, requires zero phone hardware, and is extremely easy to use.
Visit the Freshcaller website for more information.