As businesses around the world aim to develop effective customer relationships, the quality of a customer service call plays an increasingly important role in winning customer loyalty. A research carried out by Verint an analytical software supplier, across six countries concluded that only 22% of consumers were ready to accept poor customer service, in exchange for lower prices.
This shows that in exchange for distinctive customer service experience, an overwhelming majority of customers are willing to pay higher prices. Customer service calls are an integral part of the customer experience, since this is where the interactions between the customer and the company representative take place. Calls are a primary source of communication between the customers and the company; it gives the customers an opportunity to provide feedback, which leads to provision of better service in the future.
A recent survey carried out by Forrester Research found out that two third of businesses set competitive differentiation as a business goal, but more than 50% failed to devise an effective strategy to achieve this goal.
In order to provide excellence in customer call service, the business first needs to collect the right information regarding the issues customers are facing. Only then they can go about resolving those issues and providing a satisfying call experience. Managers need to determine what kind of service they aim to provide. Once this has been determined, the required information must be collected and a properly trained call team should be assigned to handle matters.
Call centers are generally classified as either in-bound or out-bound, the former aim to provide customer service or support. The in-bound call centers can be further divided into two categories: Handling queries (Helping out customers with information regarding the product or services) or handling sales transaction (Taking orders, payments and booking). The strategy must be devised keeping in view the mission and aims of the call center operation.
When it comes to evaluating call center performance, there are various key performance metrics that are commonly used, like average handle time, waiting time, and hold time. In the process of measuring these metrics some companies forget that one of the essential goals is to satisfy the customer through quality of the assistance provided.
One important indictor developed by CEB Customer Contact Leadership Council, takes into account the amount of time and effort customers are required to put in, in order to get their post-sales issues resolved. This index aims to measure the level of customer satisfaction by taking into account factors such as emotional and physical energy dispensed by the customers.
IVR (Interactive Voice Response service), is a technology which allows a computer to communicate with the customers. IVR mostly annoys customers, as they offer too many menus and choices, which not only confuses the callers, but also fails to resolve the issue. Even if the companies are using IVR, it should be kept simple, and the complex process of verifying identity should be simplified.
Traditionally, call center agents are given ready-made scripts, which they are required to memorize. This “one show fits” all approach doesn’t work, and it can’t possibly generate value for the customer. Customers often have unique problems which cannot be resolved through answers prepared in advance.
Availability of the correct information
Call center agents need to have a firm grip on all the information available regarding the product and services. Customers hate waiting around for the correct answers, and the first response should be ideally what the customers require.
Call center agents must be trained to take on all sorts of questions, their scope should not be limited to just what’s on the ready-made script. Ideally, agents should have an insight not only on the product/services, but the company itself, its mission and history.
Interaction between the service call agents and the customers should be monitored. When these interactions are being reviewed, assessment teams should gauge standards and look for loop holes to be fixed.
Customer feedback is important; it should be captured and recorded from all channels. Customers often have the greatest ideas to improve the services; the company must value these suggestions and make it a point to ask for feedback, which can help the company understand the key issues.
Monitoring the interactions can help the agents improve skills. Detailed evaluation can be conducted to identify and fill the gaps in skills and competency. This will also provide a learning opportunity for the firm and its employees. Agents need to be periodically coached, keeping in view the changing dynamics and needs of the customers. In order to provide consistent customer service, constant re-adjustment is required, which should be based on the customer feedback.
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