Your call center is usually the only direct contact that a representative has with your company. Is the call center leaving a good impression? Here are 11 tips you can use to improve customer interactions in your call center:
Tip One: A successful call center must recruit and retain excellent problem solvers and communicators. Calls into a call center from independent representatives often focus on problems requiring immediate solutions. An operator must quickly understand and resolve these problems. The operator, therefore, must be confident and knowledgeable to handle these calls satisfactorily. To ensure such an outcome, call center staff should be capable, well-trained, and well-paid.
As e-mail responses become more common, written communication skills become increasingly important. People with such skills are increasingly rare. Operators who work directly with independent representatives should be the best a company has to offer. The opportunity to work as the voice of the company should be a step up in such an employee’s career. If the position of call-center operator is perceived as a dead-end job, those positions will not be adequately filled.
Tip Two: Role-playing can be an excellent way to demonstrate and solidify positive techniques. Role-playing works best when the topic and pattern closely match the real conversation. Taped calls can be transcribed and modified (to protect independent representatives/operators) for use in these exercises. Call rehearsal helps operators become comfortable with the problems presented and learn to solve them with confidently. Taping calls may also allow operators to analyze their own communication styles.
Tip Three: Gender may affect the interaction expectations. In our culture, men and women have different styles of communication. Operators perform their better if they understand these differences. Books about gender differences in communication styles can be quite helpful.
Tip Four: Identifying the independent representative is essential for the operator to access information. Identification of the independent representative need not come in the first line. However, identification allows for accurate information and produces data vital for tracking the needs of those representatives.
Tip Five: The need for a sense of community may be a reason to emphasize a more personal greeting in a direct sales organization. People often become involved in network marketing to fulfill that need for a sense of community. They may feel anxious or betrayed if they find themselves in an environment they perceive as impersonal or even hostile.
Tip Six: The operator should seize the opportunity to further establish a positive tone by following certain steps within the call. Restating the solution, complimenting a recent promotion, or giving tips on sales promotions help improve call quality. The operator has a powerful influence in a call-in center as he or she clearly opens, and most often closes, the interaction.
Tip Seven: Excellent operators notice opportunities to help the independent distributor and offer that help. A dedicated operator can give the caller more assistance than originally solicited. (Of course, the option should always be the independent representative’s choice.)
Tip Eight: Independent representatives should regularly review their listening skills. Such techniques as paraphrasing, asking open-ended questions, and clarifying important information like credit card numbers can improve when reviewed and practiced.
Tip Nine: Research indicates that the ability to handle a question or concern in one call saves money and boosts customer satisfaction. Consequently, the more training on services, products, policies, typical exceptions, problem-solving, and positive call conclusion helps reduce the need to transfer calls.
Tip Ten: Operators who use questions effectively can serve as examples for others. Questions have a powerful influence with effective interaction. The wide variety of purposes for questions may also provide an excellent training topic.
Tip Eleven: The perception of hostile and angry calls could affect successful operator interaction with callers. Training for operators may help them understand their own tendencies to react when conflict arises and offer tips for diffusing angry callers. Debriefing sessions may also be necessary to help operators analyze problem calls and discover ways to handle future calls with more success and with less stress.
**These tips are based on an analysis of over 400 calls in a large network marketing company.