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Customer service is at its best when there is an in-depth understanding of the customer’s peculiarities. This becomes paramount when dealing with customers from a different country. There are subtle, and not so subtle cultural cues that should be taken into account when providing Multilingual call centre support.
Portuguese customer service is no exception to this rule. A proficient Portuguese call center agent is one who understands the nature of the average Portuguese. Hence, he is better equipped to render bespoke services to the customer. By employing cultural nuances as a disarming tool, the customer becomes receptive to the product and services of the business. Now, let us explore what the dos and don’ts to keep in mind while providing Portuguese call centre support.
Keep the Conversation Formal
The Portuguese prefer their business conversations to start in a business-like manner. Consequently, they expect their phone conversation to begin with a “hello” followed by a quick introduction of the caller. Starting the conversation in this manner sets the tone in the psyche of the customer. He immediately knows what purpose the call would serve.
When the ice has been broken, the Portuguese customer care agent can proceed with the conversation in a less formal format. The Portuguese are open to less formal talk as soon as they are familiar with the caller. At this point, it would be appropriate to ask about family and his work. However, in asking about personal details, care must be taken not to get too personal. The customer might become stiff when you ask about the intricate details of his life.
The official language in Portugal is the Portuguese language. You would, however, find that a large portion of the population is fluent in English. The reason is not so far fetched since the country has been largely open to English speaking tourists. This has encouraged a large portion of natives to learn the language. Hence, it would not be unusual for a Portuguese customer service agent to go about his business in English.
In providing Portuguese call centre support, it would be safe to initiate the conversation in Portuguese. As the conversation progresses, there might be a need to switch to another language depending on the preference of the customer, something that Portuguese call centre agents should be able to judge.
Get Comfortable With Small Talk
Though the Portuguese prefer their business conversations to be initiated formally, they do not like to dive straight into business. When time permits it, the Portuguese customer service agent should take off the edge, by talking about non-business topics. The conversation can drift to a topic such as the current weather conditions, the personal life of the customer or sport.
When discussing the personal life of the customer, it would be wise to stay on the surface. Ask about his job and family and you might get little or no resistance. However, when you delve into subjects such as personal finance and religion, the conversation might take a different turn. The Portuguese consider their finances a personal matter and won’t touch the subject unless they have to.
Football or soccer is the most played sport in the country. Thus, asking about a customer’s favorite team would definitely score some points. You might want to limit your sporting discussions to this singular sport. Extending the conversation to less popular sports might not produce a similar result. Portuguese customer service centre agents should be given extensive training to sensitize them about these cultural peculiarities unless you hire native Portuguese call centre agents.
Don’t Expect Straight Answers
Getting answers from a Portuguese isn’t as easy compared to some of their European counterparts. Take a German for instance; his answers would leave no room for doubt as to his intentions. The Portuguese on the other hand, are less generous with answers. This is so because it is in their nature to be polite and to avoid conversational directness.
Accordingly, to get answers, you would have to read between the lines. That is, analyze the statements of the customer to decipher what his intentions are. This also connotes that you shouldn’t push for straight answers when the customer is giving you kickbacks. This can land your Portuguese call centre agents in a tricky situation sometimes that they should be trained to deal with.
Easy With the Compliments
While you might want to say a few nice things to get comfy with the customer, it would serve you best to keep your compliments short. The Portuguese tend to smell a rat when you shower them with compliments. This is particularly true when you are kicking off the relationship but less true when you are familiar with the customer. Your Portuguese customer service agents should be careful not to be generous with compliments lest it backfires.
How the Portuguese Speak
The Portuguese, just like their Spanish neighbors have been judged to speak too loud and fast. This characterization might be subjective as some have argued that it is simply a matter of perception. That is, because most people aren’t familiar with the language, so they simply assume it’s a fact.
Whether you fall into this category or not, it is important to note that the volume and speed of the Portuguese customers’ voice has nothing to do with their love or hate for what is being said. It is simply the way they speak. This is however the general rule. It would be prudent to watch out for changes in the customers tone as the conversation progresses.
Connect on Social Media
Portugal has a population of over 10 million and more than half of that figure is active Internet users. Specifically, the Portuguese youth are active on social media platforms. Hence, if your company’s aim is to reach this demographic, you would find better luck by connecting with them on social media.
Also, where you choose not to use social media as a communication tool, it can be used as a gauge for public interest or opinion about your company’s product and services.
Though providing the best call center service in Portugal goes beyond understanding cultural nuances, knowing them would get you half way there. This and many other competencies are why you should choose LiveSalesman if you are looking for Portugal Call Centre Support. All our Portuguese Customer Service agents are natives. At LiveSalesman, we specialize in offering Multilingual Call Centre support in over 30 European and Asian languages including Portuguese Call Centre Services and Spanish Call Centre Support.
Publish Date: December 24, 2018 5:00 AM
The emergence and subsequent evolution of disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) have led many to believe that AI is now poised to penetrate and transform the way we conduct our day-to-day lives. Many are of the opinion that the day is not far when AI-driven automation will displace a variety of jobs in entirety, including human-oriented roles such as customer service. Such thoughts and beliefs have sparked a debate on whether the jobs of call center agents and live chat agents are at a threat.
Now, there’s no denying that AI will play a defining role in shaping the future of various contact center services such as inbound call center support, email support and live chat customer service. However, the prospect of AI fully replacing human customer service agents seems to be a far-fetched one. Especially considering the fact that AI itself is an evolving technology. And it has a long way to go before it reaches the stage where it sophisticates itself to the extent that it matches or surpasses the natural intelligence of humans.
So, will AI disrupt the call center industry? The answer is ‘YES’ as a digital transformation of the industry is inevitable. Will the technology completely replace call center agents in the days to come? The answer is ‘NO’ as corroborated by the following reasons:
Contact Center AI accuracy still has a long way to go
In content of Contact Center industry, AI come in the form of programmed automation in live chat automated responses, programmed email responses or IVR systems that are intended to reduce manual intervention, expedite the response time and improve the accuracy of the responses. However, contrary to the augmented perception of the experience artificial intelligence was supposed to bring in, in most instances, customers are increasingly left frustrated and disappointed with robotic, mindless chat bot responses that do nothing to resolve the issue. Customers constantly find themselves struggling to extricate themselves from the endless loop of automated responses to talk to a real human!
The matter of fact is that AI systems don’t yet have the potential to deliver impeccable precision as was assumed. For now, their level of accuracy depends on the expertise of their implementer. The much hyped and talked about Call Center AI in its current state is in-fact just a system that relies on keyword detection to retrieve information from the database and creating an exhaustive and fully comprehensive database that ensures good customer experience requires a great deal of effort, time and resources which most organizations can not afford to invest in. As a result, answers provided by chat-bots are not always accurate and customers have to try different keywords to arrive at the desired answer.
This practice of utilizing keyword detection to solve customer queries is itself not foolproof. Human imagination has no limit. Thus, it’s near impossible to create an exhaustive list that accommodates every possible word or phrase that the human mind can fathom when searching for information on a particular topic. Consequently, you can never guarantee that your AI system is robust enough to decode every customer query to the T, or that it will always be able to provide the right answer that is relevant to what a customer is looking for.
Provided you have well-trained and efficient call center agents at your disposal, your odds of getting it right the first time is higher with call center agents and live chat agents as opposed to an AI program that simulates human interactions based on pre-determined user phrases and expressions.
Complex queries demand human intervention and assistance your customers truly need
When it comes to answering basic inquiries responding to simple questions that are predictable and repetitive, AI-enabled systems may be able serve purpose well if done right. However, when it comes to handling higher level complex issues, AI leaves a lot to be desired. With the advancement of technology, the complexity of the customer queries is also increasing. Sophisticated technology requires sophisticated answers, judgment, decision making and tactical handling that only humans are capable of and hence customer service agents have to step into the picture to ensure that all queries are dealt with efficiently for utmost satisfaction to the end users. For example, live call center agents will have to engage themselves when a customer contacts an inbound call center and demands to speak to a supervisor to discuss a late fee waiver as a goodwill gesture.
As much as businesses would like all support to be run by automated systems or self help tools, at present there is no way to resolve the whole length and breadth of complex issues faced by your customers without human customer support agents.
Artificial Empathy (AE) is still a distant reality
Interestingly, even if such self-service offerings and AI are efficient enough to handle routine queries, most customers still prefer communicating with live customer service agents vis-a-vis conversing with machines. And it’s got to do with the fact that automated responses and self-service interactions lack the “human touch” and the natural flow of a human-to-human conversation. That’s because, despite all its underlying sophistication and learning, AI as a technology is still not developed enough to detect and respond to human emotions accurately.
Machines cannot feel. They are not capable of gauging the mood of a customer or comprehending complex human expressions such as pun and sarcasm like human customer service agents can. They can’t judge if they should empathize with a customer who is having a bad day or if they should employ tact or humor to diffuse a tense situation. They may be cognitively smart but they are far from being emotionally intelligent. Given such shortcomings on their emotional front, it’s not surprising that conversations with automated systems often sound scripted and even awkward at times. One can hardly argue that human-to-machine interactions don’t come across half as warm, natural or personal as human-to-human conversations held by customer support agents. In fact, the former can be quite frustrating if the responses contradict a customer’s needs or are not suited to the situation at hand.
When providing service to end users, one must bear in mind that not every customer will voice their dissatisfaction in as many words. It is up to the call center representative on the other end of the line, whether human or robot, to recognize the subtle cues that could indicate a likely churn. With AI, we are not quite there yet where we can expect machines to understand a customer’s emotional state and act accordingly to appease him or her. Eventually, it comes down to the inbound call center team and live chat agents to salvage the situation and retain the customer with an empathic approach and tailored solutions.
AI solutions are expensive to fully implement
If you are the owner of a start-up or small business and thinking of automating your chat support, make sure you do your homework first and determine if it is worth investing thousands of dollars in expensive AI solutions as returns can be little or nil. Lots of small businesses fall for the low cost chat bots without considering the cost of valuable resources required to develop a worthwhile database for it to perform well as elaborated above. Unless you have a considerable call/ticket volumes…in hundreds or thousands per month, it makes no sense to spare that amount of money and manpower to implement and AI solution unless you reach that scale.
Before taking the plunge and integrating AI into contact center services, it will be wise of businesses to also take into consideration the demographics and willingness of their target audience to adopt automated live chat customer service or other AI based customer support systems. Independent studies reveal that demographic variables such as age, gender, geographic location etc. have a role to play in influencing one’s choice and usage of specific communication channels. According to a finding, customers, aged 35 and below, are more willing to embrace new-age contact solutions like live chat customer service as opposed to their older counterparts (aged over 35) who are more likely to opt for human interactions when seeking assistance. And then there are those who, regardless of their age, simply feel more comfortable talking to someone who is flesh and blood and not some form of programmed automation.
You may be better off engaging live chat agents and call center agents to impart the desired level of service without incurring the massive expenses that are typically associated with AI implementation.
As evident from the above, the use of AI in the context of the call center industry will be that of an enabler and not one that acts as a substitute for human representatives. Hence, the fear of AI replacing humans in contact centers is unfounded. Till such time the end user is not a robot, AI will have to go hand in hand with human involvement for positive customer experiences.
In the coming days, AI will get smarter for sure as machine learning continues to evolve and refine itself. As the technology gets mainstreamed and blended with the human touch, the call center industry will also get to benefit as it can be utilized to perform mundane call center tasks allowing the call center agents to focus on customer issues that require human intervention and judgment. The idea is to strike a balance between a hands-on and hands-off approach so that contact centers can deliver what they set out to do, i.e. focus on offering exemplary services that create customer delight.
If you don’t have the bandwidth or resources to run an in-house call center, outsourcing can be a cost effective and efficient alternative. If you intend to outsource chat support or inbound call center support, consider choosing an experienced service provider that assures you of friendly, professional and personalized services. Such bespoke services can go a long way in driving conversion rates and ensuring superior customer experiences - outcomes that technology cannot achieve on its own. When you decide to outsource inbound call center support or live chat support, look for a service provider that has the capability to offer multilingual live chat and multilingual call center solutions. This will hold you in good stead when your business grows and the need to provide 24/7 chat support in multiple languages becomes inevitable.
Publish Date: December 20, 2018 5:00 AM
“Use the right tone when speaking to customers.” If you are a calling agent providing phone support to customers, this oft-repeated guideline will surely ring a bell to you. Even if you’re not acquainted with the nuances of an inbound call center, chances are you must have replayed something similar in your mind when a certain verbal or written communication sounded rude or condescending to you. So, what is it about the “tone” that makes it so crucial in the context of customer service? Does it really matter whether you get the tone right or not? Read on to know more.
7-38-55 Rule of Personal Communication
According to Albert Mehrabian, an inconsistency of thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs arises when what we say is not in harmony with how we say it. He illustrates this point through his 7-38-55 Rule of Personal Communication which states that words only account for 7% of the essence of a message. The rest of the context is inferred from the speaker’s tone of voice (38%) and body language (55%).
In an inbound call center environment, assuming there is no video chat support involved, the relative impact of body language on the effectiveness of communication is null. For calling agents, non-verbal elements predominantly determine the quality of their phone conversations. Thus, unless the spoken words are congruent with the non-verbal cues (read tone, pitch, rate of speech etc.), there’s a risk of being misunderstood or being perceived as fake by the person on the other end of the line.
Correlation between the Tone of Your Voice and the Communication Channel in Use
In today’s digital age, phone and email are no longer the only modes of providing service to customers. Live chat, mobile and social media are also popular channels for customers to communicate with brands. Every communication channel has its own nuances around formality, tone, language style, etc. For example, emails are considered to be more formal than live chat or mobile communication. Thus, while it may be acceptable to use an informal tone when responding over live chat or mobile, the same may be looked upon as inappropriate when offering phone support or assistance via email.
The same goes for the use of emojis and emoticons. It is not uncommon to use emojis when communicating over channels that allow customer service agents to be more spontaneous. However, emojis are not recommended for relatively more formal communication channels like email. Occasionally, the use of emoticons (facial expressions created using keyboard characters) may be permissible for email responses. In most cases, it’s usually safe to replicate a customer’s communication style and tone, i.e., you can follow suit if you notice a customer using icons and digital images to convey his or her feelings and emotions.
Importance of Mirroring Your Customer’s Tone and Conversational Style
Ever wondered why it is so important for calling agents to adapt their tones and communication styles to that of their customers? That’s because no two customers are alike and conversational styles also differ from one to the other. Thus, while an unscripted and informal conversational beat may work for today’s millennials, the same approach may misfire when dealing with traditional users who may prefer a more formal style of customer service. Also, bear in mind that today’s customers seek a more authentic and personalized service experience. Hence, addressing callers using their names and doing away with a cookie-cutter style of customer service are good strategies to accommodate changing customer tastes.
It is equally imperative for inbound call center agents to ensure that their tone is a reflection of the voice of their customers. Thus, if a caller exhibits a warm and friendly demeanor, one should reciprocate likewise using an amiable and easy-going tone (of course, without sounding too casual). Alternately, if a caller sounds formal or distant, care should be taken to avoid an overly friendly or conversational tone that may irk him or her. When declining requests or dealing with angry customers, a formal but compassionate attitude is suggested as a casual approach may be interpreted as insensitive or uncaring. Furthermore, instead of using intensely negative words to communicate the “No”, leverage “Service No” or “Positive No” to pass on the message without sounding rude or unemphatic.
Despite being popular as “web lingo” or casual forms of conversation, words or phrases like “LOL”, “TTYL”, “BRB”, “Wassup”, “Kinda”, “No worries”, “stuff like these” etc. lack a professional tone and are not suitable for use in customer service. Similarly, the use of heavily idiomatic language is not desirable as colloquial expressions that are specific to one’s regional or local dialect may not be comprehensible or relevant for callers from other regions. Thus, while phrases like “push the boat out”, “put the cat among the pigeons” and “over-egg the pudding” may sound familiar to the average British, they may be confusing or indecipherable for the French, Korean or Japanese.
Lastly, in their efforts to get the tone right or when attempting to adapt their language style based on who they are speaking to or the context of their conversations, phone support agents must ensure they do not come across as unprofessional or inelegant in their discussions. And regardless of whether the tone of their discussions is friendly, humorous, formal, distant or casual, customer service agents should not forget the basic customer service etiquettes of active listening, politeness, empathy, and patience when assisting customers with their queries and issues.
Degree of Politeness
A warm, sincere, friendly and polite tone can go a long way in improving customer experience, cementing customer relationships and building brand loyalty. However, how polite is polite or what is the desired level of politeness in customer care support service is something that merits careful consideration. That’s because the perception of politeness varies from people to people. The ‘Politeness Theory’ of Penelope Brown and Stephen C. Levinson asserts that conversationalists employ four main types of politeness strategies when attempting to mitigate face threats. Two of these strategies are positive politeness and negative politeness. Both emphasize avoidance of offense to the listener. However, while the former does this through friendliness, the latter exploits deference to achieve the outcome.
When attempting positive politeness, the addresser assumes a proactive and optimistic approach and strives to offer the addressee a sense of belonging by prioritizing his or her needs and interests. In contrast, those engaging in negative politeness strategies assume a distancing style which is marked by a pessimistic, apologetic and indirect approach. Such speakers are reluctant to communicate anything that can be objectionable, disrespectful or imposing to the listener. As an inbound call center agent, is it up to you to judge which politeness strategy best suits your customers, keeping in mind the latter’s expectations, communication styles, likes and dislikes.
Tweaking the Language to Elevate the Comfort Level of the Callers
Words to soften conversations and make them sound less direct and more polite:
Altering certain verb forms and tenses or making use of words and phrases that indicate possibility, ability, permission, obligation etc. can significantly reduce the impact of face-threatening utterances and enhance the level of politeness in your conversations.
Case in point is the use of hedges (mitigating words, expressions and sounds), past forms of modal verbs (“could” instead of “can”, “might” in place of “may”, “would” as opposed to “will” etc.) and past simple or past continuous tense for verbs like “hope”, “want”, and “wonder”.
Consider the following examples:
“I expect a response within a day.” vs. “I was wondering if I could get a response within a day.”
“Restart the computer.” vs. “Could you just try restarting the computer once again, please?”
“This is not possible.” vs. “This seems less likely.”
“The service has deteriorated over time.” vs. “The service has somewhat deteriorated over time.”
In all of the above constructions, the use of words or expressions such as “was wondering”, “less likely”, “somewhat” etc. make the tone of the statements less forceful and more polite.
Another tactic to make your conversations seem less direct or assertive is to introduce vagueness into your constructions. Thus, rather than saying “It got uncomfortable after a point”, you could say “It got kind of uncomfortable after a point”.
When conversing with a customer, avoiding verbs and phrases that denote an imperative mood is a good strategy to make your discussions sound less commanding, indifferent or uncaring. Hence, instead of saying, “Pass me the file” which comes across as a command, you can say “Could you pass me the file, please?” to make it sound like a request. Bear in mind though that when issuing warnings, offering advice, giving instructions and directions, or making requests, the use of imperatives is allowable. Hence, exclamations like “Watch out, there is danger ahead!” or “Have a good day!” are acceptable.
Instilling confidence in the callers through added positivity and affirmation:
There’s no denying that a positive attitude is crucial to positive customer experiences. When rendering phone support, inbound call center agents can demonstrate a positive attitude in their communication through the use of affirmatives or positive customer service phrases. Expressions, injected with intensifiers such as positive adjectives and adverbs, sound assuring to callers. For example, “I will surely look into this” sounds much more positive and affirmative than “I will look into this” or “I can look into this”.
As a customer service agent, it will be wise of you to master the art of leveraging the above-mentioned techniques to minimize the impact of certain utterances on the listeners; in other words, you must learn how to “soften the blow”.
Paraphrase to Achieve Greater Clarity and Demonstrate Active Listening
When you are unsure of what’s been communicated to you, paraphrase the comment or feedback to seek clarity. When you paraphrase, you demonstrate to the customers that they have been heard, plus you express your intention to get more clarity to avoid any misunderstanding or misinterpretation of facts. A word of caution here. Paraphrasing doesn’t mean parroting back information as that’s plain annoying to the hearer. Rather it implies summarizing and restating facts in your own words to fully uncover the explicit and implicit meaning of the comment or feedback.
At LiveSalesman, we understand how important it is for your international customers to be able to speak to native customer service representatives who are familiar with their accents and cultural nuances. Hence, our multilingual inbound call center solutions are designed to employ the services of bilingual calling agents who are well-versed with English as well as the foreign language in focus. Our phone support agents are adept in adapting their tones and conversational styles based on a myriad of factors, including the tone of the callers, the specific communication channel in use and the nature of the conversations. Feel free to give us a call, email us or contact us today via live chat to get more insights into our outsourced services.
Publish Date: December 6, 2018 5:00 AM
Peak or holiday seasons like Christmas or New Year, are most important seasons for e-retailers from sales and revenue point of view. During these periods, e-retailers plan to earn big money and attract new customers by offering good discounts and schemes. On the other hand, even customers sail high on expectations’.
It all sounds great until you find yourself inundated with customer support emails, non-stop phone calls, live chat messages that can be exciting for you as it means more customers but can be very stressful for your customer support staff. Long working hours and handling innumerable customers’ queries take a toll on employees’ health. On the other hand, inadequate responses accompanied by long waiting time infuriate customers to a great extent. So, during peak holiday seasons, businesses face dual challenges of satisfying customers and keeping employees motivated
Thus, it is vital for business to take pro-active actions for maintaining festive spirit of the customers and offering them great customer experiences. Below are the few ways that enable e-businesses to improve their customer services during peak season.
Prepare Concrete Plan Beforehand – As the adage says “Better safe than sorry”, it is always better to prepare an action plan prior 2-3 months of festive or holiday season. In order to create full-proof plan, collect facts like current workflow rate and expected rate in peak season, understanding expectations of customers, reasons of customers’ dissatisfaction, whether to hire temporary staffing solutions or not. All the important details are easy to extract from the last year’s data. Plan ahead and make it understand to each and every employee of company so that everybody remains on the same page when peak season starts.
Empower Team by Providing Training – Customers do not appreciate if they need to wait a lot for getting their calls answered. Moreover, if customer support staff is unable to solve the query and passes the call to seniors, customers definitely feel disappointed. So first of all, it is crucial to train your employees thoroughly. Provide them crystal clear understanding about your products and services. Conduct regular knowledge transfer sessions and role plays to lower call turnaround times. Suggest ways about how to handle customers’ queries quickly yet efficiently. Invest in building an easy to use and search product knowledge base with detailed FAQs, step by step instructions, and troubleshooting guidelines, manuals and pictures. Of course, it is a daunting task to please every customer during peak season, but little effort in the right direction will definitely go a long way.
Staff up for holiday season – Whether you decide to hire temporary staff or decide to get on a board a customer service outsourcing company for holiday season staffing, you do need to prepare well in advance for additional holiday staffing. Outsourcing to an experienced BPO company does have a lot more benefit than hiring temporary staff directly in-house. Such companies usually offer seasonal staffing solutions and have required tools and hands-on experience of handling high customers’ traffic during holiday season and their customer support agents are ready to hit the ground running. The last thing you want to do is deal with hiring, training, managing and retaining in house temporary staff during your busy season. The smarter choice is to take advantage of temporary staffing solutions from an expert call center provider, be it an offshore call center or onshore.
Motivate Employees to Motivate Customers – Employees with happy state of mind are more productive and offer adequate solutions to customers’ queries. When businesses expect something extra from employees, it is equally important to offer them extra – in the form of incentives, recognitions or cash rewards. Allow them to take frequent breaks, praise them for their achievements, roll-out extra hours’ incentive scheme, etc. After all, holiday season is for everybody- be it customers or employees. If employees are working hard to build and retain your brand reputation, business should not also stay behind to show their fondness towards them.
Personalize your Response –Businesses do follow offering customized services to customers in ordinary days, but due to peak season’s rush, they often forgo it. Customers always expect special treatment from the service providers and seldom pay heed to peak or off season. So, do not forget to add a touch of personalization and treat them like a “VIP or KING” during holiday season as well. Send personalized email addressing them by their names and messages like “ Dear ABC, you have not purchase anything from us in the last 3 weeks”, “ ABC, we are really missing you at XYZ”, etc.
Learn Lessons from Customers’ Feedback - Always remember, it may happen that happy customers do not applaud you but dissatisfied customers tend to complain. Therefore, spare some time from your busy schedule to understand what are customers’ trends and expectations during holiday season. Take a look at their feedback forms filled by them during last year peak season and try to fix all loopholes this time. Indubitably, customers’ feedback encompasses scores of ideas for businesses improve their customer services and increase customers’ satisfaction level.
To conclude, holiday or peak season is the best time to offer unique shopping experience to your valuable customers. Thus, avoid following “one size fits all” approach. Gear up yourself to provide such level of customer service which actually sets a benchmark for others to follow. Share your thoughts about strategies followed by you for handling customers’ queries during peak time.
Publish Date: December 3, 2018 5:00 AM
In today’s multicultural business environment, there’s no way you can undermine the importance of cultural awareness. Whether providing customer service in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Arabic or any other foreign language, it is essential that you take cultural peculiarities into consideration in your everyday communication. Failing to do so can not only make the conversations seem strange to your international callers but can also lead to a complete communication breakdown. Not to forget the resulting customer dissatisfaction and potential loss of business.
The scenario is no different when dealing with German customers. Germans have their own quirks which distinguish them from many others. Hence, if your business requires you to deal with German clients, your customer experience strategy must incorporate their cultural nuances to ensure stellar service to this set of customers. Here are a few of the cultural peculiarities that any German call center team should be cognizant of when assisting the Huns.
In Germany, the use of the first name is reserved for one’s family and close friends. Formality is the norm in business dealings. Thus, when offering German customer support services, it is crucial that your German call center agents address callers appropriately, greeting them using their titles and surnames. Typically “Herr” and “Frau” are used to address German-speaking men and married/ widowed women respectively. The usage of “Sie” and “Du” also merits careful consideration. While both imply “you”, the former is more formal and polite while the latter is informal. So, unless one claims to know the person on the other end well enough, they should stick to “Sie”.
Another interesting fact for your German call center team to make a note of is that when picking up the phone, Germans tend to introduce themselves using their last name. Hence, one shouldn’t be surprised if they don’t hear the expected “Guten Morgen” (Good Morning) or “Guten Abend” (Good Evening) when making outbound calls to customers from Germany. Also, call center agents should identify themselves first before requesting for a concerned person else they may be perceived as rude. Germans commonly give out their phone numbers in double digits - minutiae worth keeping in mind when sharing or jotting down contact information.
Extremely direct in their approach, Germans generally don’t bother much with niceties when conducting business. You can even argue that they lack humor and are too pragmatic to be emotional. The average German would rather get straight down to business than invest precious time in exchanging pleasantries. Getting overfriendly or talking about one’s personal life is a ‘no-no’ in Germany as German business protocol demands formality. So, while small talk may be your German call center agents’ strategy to break the ice with a customer, they must engage in it with caution as it may not strike a chord with your German callers. Even if your team makes small talk, it will be wise of them to center the conversations on safer topics such as football, business and beer.
Directness vs. Rudeness
If your team is already acquainted with German stereotypes, they will probably know that the Huns carry an infamous reputation of being direct to the point of rudeness. Not that it implies that they are intentionally curt. It doesn’t. It’s just that the honest and straightforward communication style of Germans manifests itself in their lack of tact when speaking their mind, calling a spade a spade without batting an eyelid! Your team can actually leverage this trait of to their advantage as they know that any feedback coming their way is brutally honest - telling them exactly what works and what doesn’t!
Aptitude for Risk and Level of Flexibility
Their inherent anxious nature makes Germans averse to risks. Extremely meticulous in their approach, they detest chaos and uncertainty in any form, including poor planning, ambiguous statements and disorganized meetings. Business meetings are generally scheduled in advance, aiming for specific outcomes and requiring all parties to adhere to the set agenda shared with them beforehand. Expect a slow decision-making process in the hierarchy-driven business culture. Last-minute adjustments and abrupt changes to the planned scope are not taken kindly and are bound to raise a few eyebrows.
What this implies for your support staff is that they should be thoroughly prepared when providing German customer support services. Likewise, they should not count on on-the-spot judgments in matters that may necessitate the involvement of a decision-making authority - be it the purchase of a relatively more expensive product/service or an alteration to the original scope of the project.
Efficiency coupled with Rationality
Handling German callers with all their idiosyncrasies can sure be challenging for your German call center. However, not so much so if your team makes efforts to delve into the psyche of the Germans to understand why they behave in the way they do. Germans are highly efficient themselves and they seek perfection in everything. This explains why they are so hard to please. They are also a stickler for rules and like to follow policies and procedures to the T. Demonstrating a rational approach in their way of working, they stress more on facts and logic than hyperbole. Thus, instead of trying to impress your German callers with tall claims and glitzy advertising, your team must strive to get it right the first time - ensuring they verify all facts before presenting them to the callers.
Consensual Business Mentality
In Germany, business negotiations are typically consensual and the goal is to achieve a win-win situation for both parties. Thus, when engaged in discussions with German callers, your team should try to come up with resolutions that not only adhere to your business protocols but also accommodate the interest of the callers. Even though discussions are direct and frank, Germans make efforts to keep them non-argumentative. Raising voices or emotional outbursts are not common during business negotiations - something to keep in mind when offering German customer support services.
Response to Hard-selling Techniques
Driven by facts and logic, Germans don’t respond well to marketing gimmicks and overt sales messages. Hence, coach your German call center agents to make a conscious effort to refrain from employing hard-selling techniques when attempting to sell complementary or comparatively higher-end products and services to the callers.
Already dreading the idea of dealing with German callers, fearing they will make you go insane with their finicky nature and demand for perfection? Don’t shun them yet as there are a lot of positives that Germans bring to the table, including their long-term mindset and willingness to invest in lasting business relationships. Germans make reliable and trustworthy partners who like to fulfill their promises and do not shy away from openly highlighting the shortcomings of your products and services. Neither do they mince words when suggesting ways to improve your offerings - a trait worth appreciating if you are serious about elevating your service levels through honest customer feedback.
At LiveSalesman, we specialize in multilingual support, including call center services in German. Our call center agents are fluent in both written and spoken English and German. Moreover, we do not limit our German customer support services to phone alone and also extend support to live chat, mobile and social media. Furthermore, we have the capability to offer your German callers round-the-clock support to ensure they are never left wanting for service because of time difference or limited hours of operation. Reach out to us today to find out how you can leverage our German call center service to add more value to your business without breaking the bank!
Publish Date: November 27, 2018 5:00 AM
For businesses with a global footprint, managing a geographically dispersed customer base means much more than overcoming language barriers. It also entails adapting to the cultural differences of your international audience and meeting the latter’s expectation from customer service. Cultural nuances vary from region to region. What may be the norm for people of a particular social group may not be relevant to those from a different geographical territory. The same holds true for the French culture. It has its own peculiarities and subtleties that you must bear in mind when strategizing your French call center services. Here are a few of the dos and don’ts that will hold your French call center team in good stead when dealing with the Mesdames and Messieurs.
Prioritize the French Language over English
The famous saying of “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” is also applicable to telephonic conversations. So what if you are not having face-to-face interactions in the land of CHANEL, Hermes and LOUIS VUITTON? You still need to make an effort to uphold the conventions of the area if you genuinely wish to provide exemplary call center services in French. It is common knowledge that the French love their language and hold it in high regards. So much so that their pride may translate into your French callers not being willing to converse in any other language. In such scenarios, a heartfelt apology for not knowing the language or not perfecting it to the level of a native may get your support staff some consolation points.
Even if your French callers are comfortable with your agents communicating in English, the sheer range of dialects can mean they are unable to comprehend your team’s way of speaking the English language and find it strange or confusing. So, it is advisable that your customer service associates don’t make use of idioms and colloquialisms that are specific to their local regions.
Offering multilingual support is an effective way to replicate the experience of a French caller when contacting a customer service team in France. Seeking the services of a company like LiveSalesman can greatly benefit you here. LiveSalesman is a leading provider of multilingual customer contact solutions which include French customer support. Employing bilingual call center agents who are fluent in both English and French, its 24/7 French call center can help you render the desired level of service as expected by your high-quality-seeking French customers.
Maintain Professionalism in Your Customer Interactions
Known to be private people, the French usually keep their personal and professional lives separate. While they feel comfortable loosening up in front of their family and close friends, the scenario is different in their business dealings - characterized by a high degree of formality in verbal and written communications. When engaging in rapport building activities such as small talk, be sure to keep the tone of your conversations formal and professional. Avoid getting too personal too soon or revealing too much too early. Neither of the two is desirable or appreciated. Similarly, respect your French customers’ need for privacy and refrain from asking intrusive questions that may be discomforting to them.
Bringing politics into your conversations or talking about money matters and religion is also a strict ‘no-no’ in the French business culture. Unless the caller himself or herself initiates such topics, it’s wise to steer your discussions towards relatively neutral subjects such as food, art, culture, music, and movies. Generally, humor and wit are well-received if you use them in the right context or setting. Exercise caution when cracking a joke as it may not go down well with the situation or the timing may be inappropriate.
Your support team may think the cultural peculiarities, as mentioned above, are too subtle to make any difference in their day-to-day interactions with French callers. What they may not realize is that taking care of these nuances can positively impact the experience of your French customers when they contact your French call center. Hence, make sure you bake these cultural uniquenesses into your service guidelines when preparing to deliver call center services in French.
Backed with over 15 years of experience, LiveSalesman specializes in French call center services for diverse and global businesses. Its omnichannel French customer support team comprises native French speakers who are well-versed with the French culture and regional accents of France. Hence, it becomes easier for them to strike a natural conversation that does not sound forced or fake to your French-speaking callers.
Get the Titles and Pleasantries Right
Every customer contact is an opportunity to reinforce your brand and garner customer loyalty. Likewise, addressing your callers in the right manner is essential for projecting a professional image of your business. The use of honorific titles is ingrained in the French culture. French business etiquette dictates the use of a “Monsieur” or “Madame” followed by the last name when addressing someone who you are not well acquainted with. This is regardless of a person’s rank or position.
In France, it’s not the norm to be on a first-name basis with someone unless told to do so. Only family members and those in one’s inner circle enjoy this privilege. Referring to a young French woman as “Mademoiselle” is perfectly acceptable socially but not when the setting is a professional one. ‘Bonjour’, ‘Bonsoir’ and ‘Bonne Journée’ are standard French greetings and equivalent for “Good morning”, “Good afternoon” and “Have a good day”.
Whether to use “tu” or vous” is the dilemma of many non-native speakers. Both mean the same, i.e. “you”. However, the first is an informal version of “you” while “vous” is the formal variant and mandated in business communication. You can get away with an incorrectly used “vous” instead of “tu” but the other way round can offend a French person if you are not close enough with him or her. Ensuring this degree of familiarity with French greetings and expressions can be challenging for your support staff if they don’t boast expertise in French customer support - a niche area. Partnering with LiveSalesman can be a wise move to create memorable customer experiences with the help of cost-effective and experienced French call center services.
Expect polite but forthright conversations
Dealing with the French can be both pleasant and startling for you and your team. On the one hand, the French can instantly put you at ease with their courteous and respectful nature. On the other hand, they can take you by surprise with their straightforward approach. Asking probing questions to decipher the underlying meaning of what is being said is something that comes naturally to them. Clarity of thought, good debating skills, keen attention to details and logical reasoning are a few of the traits that appeal to their intellect. Famous as good conversationalists, the French have a thing for brainy discussions which can turn into spirited conversations in no time. Hence, don’t be taken aback if you suddenly find yourself embroiled in a lively exchange!
It is not unusual for the average French person to enjoy a good debate more than idle chit-chat. So, coach your team not to get upset if their attempts to make small talk fall flat on French callers. Conversely, the support agents offering call center services in French can look forward to some intellectually stimulating discussions during the course of their day.
Don’t Resort to Hard Selling
Considering how detail-oriented the French are, it’s not surprising that they like to analyze business proposals in depth and at length. Patience is required when attempting to close business deals as making hasty and on-the-spot decisions is not something that the French are used to or that sits well with them. Their direct nature also makes them unappreciative of hyperbole. Tall and false claims are sure turn-offs. Thus, it will be wise of your support team to ensure they are not getting into an overtly pushy mode or resorting to pressurizing sales techniques when trying to upsell or cross-sell products and services to your French callers.
It goes without saying that there’s a lot that needs to be factored in when planning the ideal support framework to serve your French customers. Running a full-fledged, in-house French call center, replete with native speakers, may not be an economically viable option for you, especially if your business is starting out or yet to assume the scale of a self-sufficient establishment. Also, bear in mind that providing top-notch French call center services is not just about timely and accurate responses to calls and emails. It’s also about an all-encompassing support package that covers all possible modes of customer contact, including live chat, mobile and social media.
At LiveSalesman, we pride ourselves on our high-end multilingual customer contact solutions that can address the needs of different industries and business lines. Contact us today to know more about how our call center services in French can elevate the experience of your French customers.
Publish Date: November 19, 2018 5:00 AM
As more and more businesses go online or opt for a multi-channel retail approach, the need to bolster’s one’s online reputation with excellent customer care support service has become non-negotiable. When it comes to providing top-notch customer support, the underlying principles remain the same - regardless of whether you are operating a brick-and-mortar store or an e-commerce site. However, e-commerce customer service has its nuances that are quite different from that of in-store customer support. The differences may manifest themselves in support timings (unlike physical stores that have fixed operating hours, virtual stores are open round-the-clock), support tools, or the customer service approach itself. So, how can you ensure that the service you are providing online is translating into an experience that’s worth repeating for your customers? Read on to know more.
1. Analyze customer needs to determine appropriate support channels
You can only design an optimal online support framework provided you have a fair understanding of what your customers are looking for in the context of support. Customer needs vary from one to the other, based on their personal preferences and what they are buying. For example, some online shoppers are not a fan of lengthy wait times and seek prompt customer care support service in the form of live chat for real-time responses. Others are more comfortable with conventional support modes such as phone and email. Knowing your customers’ wants up front will help you serve them better using appropriate support channels that do not come across as alien or cumbersome to your online shoppers.
Live chat customer support is especially handy when you wish to recreate the experience of shopping in a physical store under the expert guidance of a store assistant. When offering live chat support, the idea is to provide friendly, timely and round-the-clock service to your online visitors. Failing to do so may lead to unhappy customers - detrimental to your e-commerce business and brand image. Hence, make sure your chat support has dedicated personnel in place to keep the conversations going even at ungodly hours.
If you are considering a phone & email support system with a global client base in mind, you cannot but not factor in cultural nuances as they are instrumental in generating pleasant user experiences. Employing the services of native speakers can translate to smoother customer interactions as natives are well-versed with colloquialisms and local consumer traits which can make the conversations seem more credible to your international callers.
Likewise, when providing email support, ask yourself what kind of image do you want to portray to your online shoppers? If you are an up-and-coming brand, you may want to create the impression of a young, fun company. On the other hand, a formal and sophisticated tone would be apt for your business if it is a premium brand catering to an upscale market. Ensuring the right kind of tone that is consistent with your company’s image is crucial when assisting customers as it can amplify or diminish your brand’s credibility.
Still unsure of what could be the right support channel for your business? Why not entail the professional services of reputed customer service outsourcing companies such as LiveSalesman that offers an array of result-driven e-commerce customer service solutions? Initiate a chat to speak to one of its support agents in real time or submit your requirements online for an advisor to get in touch with you.
2. Be responsive to customer queries and issues
Responsiveness to customers’ needs, wants, and problems is a tangible demonstration of exemplary customer care support service. In today’s fast-paced and tech-driven world, customers look for timely and swift responses, more so when shopping online. They are too busy to be left waiting for a reply. Neither do they have the time nor inclination to go back and forth indefinitely, chasing your support team for an answer or resolution. Delaying responses, providing incomplete/inaccurate solutions, or not replying at all are traits of poor online customer support. Your customers may give your business a second chance to rectify mistakes; however, they may not be willing to go easy if you don’t value their time. Hence, coach your support team to show a sense of urgency when dealing with customer issues. Doing so can prevent you from losing your potential and existing customers to your competitors.
3.Track crucial customer service metrics via reporting tools
Establishing, tracking, and monitoring the right customer service metrics is essential for all modes of business - be it online or offline, or a blend of both. That’s because metrics are a good indicator of your customers’ satisfaction levels. They provide you with critical insights into your support desk’s performance. Customer satisfaction score (CSAT), average first response time, average resolution time, resolution rate, and first contact resolution (FCR) are a few of the commonly tracked metrics in customer service. When exploring reliable customer service outsourcing companies, choose one that offers robust business intelligence and reporting tools as part of its e-commerce support package. Leverage these tools to proactively identify areas of improvement/optimization and take data-backed decisions when making modifications or upgrades to your existing support processes and systems.
4. Personalize your service for memorable customer interactions
Gone are the days when exemplary customer service was equivalent to providing formal and speedy responses, often parroted in a matter-of-fact style and rendered via scripted replies. While a professional tone may still work with customers who like to keep things formal, the young and more informal millennial generation of today may not find it relatable. And regardless of who your target audience is, a scripted customer service style is a definite no-no. Personalized service is the need of the hour as customers no longer want to engage in conversations that come across as insincere, fake or robotic. Hence, exercise caution to avoid a stilted or cookie-cutter style in your e-commerce customer service, making sure your team’s email and chat response do not lack genuineness, warmth, or personalization.
Addressing customers by name, mirroring their tones and conversational styles, keeping customer interactions unscripted and human, and offering custom solutions tailored to one’s needs are techniques that you can exploit to build rapport and personalize a customer’s online shopping experience. They go a long way in instilling trust in first-time visitors, converting casual shoppers into lifetime buyers.
If your online business caters to a global audience, a multilingual contact center can be an apt choice to avoid communication gaps and make your French, German, or Spanish customer feel at ease when calling up support. Experienced customer service outsourcing companies like LiveSalesman specialize in cutting-edge call center solutions in a range of languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Korean, and Portuguese. Reach out to us today to find out how your business can benefit from their multilingual customer contact solutions.
5.Create a support team is knowledgeable, well-equipped, and empowered
It is often said that customer service is not a department; it’s an attitude. And it holds true even for online support. A customer-centric attitude or the lack of it determines how you or your team look at serving customers - whether as a privilege or as a chore. No matter what tools or knowledge base your e-commerce customer service team may have at their disposal, they cannot create customer delight without providing heartfelt service or adopting a customer-focused approach.
Unless you are a one-man army in a start-up, you probably have a full-fledged helpdesk team at your disposal. Make sure every contact with your helpdesk team is smooth and fruitful for your online shoppers by training your front-line staff well. Ensure your helpdesk team knows your business offerings inside out so that they can better assist your customers with expert advice and valuable product/service recommendations. Equip your staff with the right tools and documentation that will enable them to respond to customers faster and competently. Customers prefer dealing with support desk members who are knowledgeable and can help them make informed choices.
It is a known fact that every support team, whether online or offline, has to deal with many complex scenarios on a day-to-day basis. It is not uncommon for a customer to throw a curveball that may take an online support agent by surprise. Nothing can be more frustrating for a customer than an agent putting him or her on hold for every query or request that is not outlined in the standard operating procedures. Hence, take out time to empower your helpdesk staff and entrust them with a certain degree of autonomy with regards to decision-making. Encourage your team to look beyond the rule book and think out of the box to offer innovative but judiciously thought-through solutions to customers, without having to seek approval for every act of theirs.
Considering the inherent complexities of customer care support service and how demanding tech-savvy shoppers can be with online support, merely being helpful, responsive or consistent is not good enough. You also need to embrace technology to boost your team’s efficiency, accuracy, and productivity. Leading customer service outsourcing companies such as LiveSalesman come with years of experience in supporting e-commerce businesses with high-end yet affordable customer experience solutions. Take advantage of their creative contact center solutions that not only save you time and money but also contribute to positive customer experiences.
Publish Date: October 28, 2018 5:00 AM
Managing multicultural teams can present its own unique set of challenges and obstacles. Not only will you have to effectively manage language barriers, but there are also cultural and training barriers to overcome, as well. What may make sense to employees from a Western culture may not make sense for hires from Eastern cultures. We often of miscontrue people’s behaviour from other cultures and spend invaluable time on sorting out misunderstandings and setting expectations. The right solution to all of these types of challenges requires careful thought, cultural understanding and dexterity, and a highly diplomatic approach.
Continue reading to learn more.
1. Language Barrier
The way we speak, and the words we use, are tools we use to convey our feelings, hopes, and dreams. We are all tied to our language, which is why it can be difficult traveling to a foreign country where most residents speak a different language. Now, imagine managing a multicultural team where many of the members speak a different language.
Not only do you have to make sure they understand company procedures, and policies, but you must also ensure everyone has an effective method of communicating with one another. To say this task is challenging would be an understatement. At the same time, the main language spoken at the office might be the second or third language for some employees, so they might not understand colloquialisms.
Moreover, they can unintentionally take slang and jokes the wrong way since they would interpret them in a very literal context. Not to mention, team members who are not fully comfortable in the language spoken at the office may feel out of place and less inclined to share their opinions.
Find a way to get your messages across in a way that everyone will fully understand. You can incorporate multilingual translators onto your teams. In addition, make use of functional translation software an apps. You can also offer ongoing language classes in the company’s primary language. The objective is to ensure every single team member feels included and valued. Also, try not to convey any bias towards team members who are fluent in our native tongue. Everyone should feel that they are treated fairly, regardless of what language they speak.
2. Cultural differences
Similar to the language barrier, people from Eastern cultures will have varying cultural norms from those in a Western culture. For instance, a Western manager may seem too assertive, loud or direct for a team member from Japan or other Asian countries where requests are made more politely and indirectly.
On the other hand, an employee from a Western background may be more inclined to speak up when something feels wrong as opposed to someone from an Eastern culture who might have been taught to never question the boss, even when they are wrong.
These cultural barriers can lead to confusion among team members and, in the worst-case scenario, a lack of cohesion. In another example, Americans may come across as more informal and casual with the employee and manager relationship where someone from a place like Japan would prefer or is used to more formal constructs.
Take the time to learn about the different cultural norms of your team members, understand how they perceive assertiveness and communicate appropriately. Furthermore, encourage your employees to learn about their colleague’s cultures, as well.
3. Technical Challenges
An employee from the U.S. is often used to using many of the most popular tech offerings available today. They would need little training in this regard. On the other hand, an employee who hails from a more provincial location in another country such as China, might not be as used to working with popular American tech and software. Similarly, while it can be taken for granted that a team member for West would be fully familiar with Google search Engine while it may be completely foreign to someone from China where Baidu search engine reigns.
Just ask which technologies they’re familiar with, and which ones could benefit from more training. Then, offer classes or online training course for those who need it to ensure the entire team is up to speed and on the same page.
4. The decision-making process
Cultures have different styles of making decisions. In America, managers are expected to make decisions quickly where in other cultures managers take their time for due diligence, gathering more information and often consult team members to make sure that the decision is arrived at unanimously. Furthermore, in some cultures, managers are looked upon with utmost reverence and the decisions made by them are never questioned; and, aren’t questioned by employees even when they may be wrong. So, how should decisions be made to avoid conflicting situations in culturally diverse environment?
Diverse employees will have different expectations. What you can do is to ensure every member of your multicultural teams understands your process when making decisions.
Learn about the differences of each of your team members, and then determine how decisions will be executed. Next, make it a priority to talk to each employee individually to ask how they feel about your management style and decision making process to see if they can feel comfortable with it.
5. Styles of communication: Aggression and tone
Cultures have different styles of communication. As mentioned earlier, American managers tend to be more aggressive and straightforward than their Easter counterparts. For some team members, this can come across as too direct. This can also relate to cultural norms of each member of your multicultural teams.
You can’t change your style overnight. What you can do is to ensure every member of your multicultural teams understands your process when making decisions. Then, make it a priority to talk to each employee individually to ask how they feel about your management style and if they can feel comfortable with it.
6. Challenge of motivating a culturally diverse team
The perception of motivation may vary from one culture to another. What can be motivating for you may be regarded as de-motivating for people from another culture. Trying to enforce a universal motivation and reward system based on norms and culture of your company may actually backfire and you may experience decline in employee satisfaction and efficiency level. Similarly, some people perform a lot better when they are left on their own to figure out how to get the job done while people from other cultures may find themselves groping in the dark unless the manager defines a clear roadmap for them on how to do their job.
Speak with people from different cultures individually to discover what motivates them and what extent of manager intervention is acceptable to them. Come to common grounds with them on the expected results if their suggestions are implemented and observe the impact.
Managing multicultural teams isn’t faint hearted. It requires learning, due diligence, and diplomacy. As the old saying goes: If you want to be understood, seek first to understand.
If you don’t wish to deal with the challenges of managing a culturally diverse team, consider outsourcing functions that are not core to your business, such as Multilingual customer service. Multilingual Call Centers are adept at managing people from different cultures. They understand how to reconcile these cultural differences and make everyone on the team chase the same goals despite the opposing views.
Publish Date: October 17, 2018 5:00 AM
Have you wondered why only a few companies deliver great customer support? Is it because they lack the right strategy and process? Or does it have to do with the company culture?
While there can be quite a few reasons, one of the most common ones is the quality of support agents. They are the face of your company – the employees who interact with customers the most.
If you’re an agent unable to deliver on customer expectations, it’s time to make a few changes. Read on to find out the 10 simple tips for support agents to bring their A-game to work!
Know the product/service inside out
Great service starts with deep knowledge. Know the products or services of your company inside out. Learn the nuances of how things work. This equips you to handle any sort of customer complaint or query in a timely and effective way.
Be a great listener
Humans, as a species, are resigned to being poor listeners. But that shouldn’t stop you from hearing out what your customer has to say. Pay complete attention to the customer and you’re halfway closer to solving the issue at hand. On the other hand, interrupting not only makes you sound rude, but you wouldn’t be able to grasp the entire context around what the customer is saying.
Go the extra mile
The support agents at Amazon and Zappos always standout. Want to know why? They always rise above what is expected of them. In fact, it’s second nature for them! Look at every customer call as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship and win more of their trust. If the customer is angry about an experience, offer a discount on their next purchase. If the customer wants a replacement, do it for free!
Communicate clearly with your customers
As much as what you say is important, ‘how’ you say it equally matters. Be clear and crisp in communicating your point across to the customer. Remember, they don’t have all the time in the world. Don’t have an immediate solution? Let the customer know that you’ve escalated it. A confident and clear tone of voice also makes it easier for the customer to empathize with you
Do not sound like a robot!
Gone for the days where you could look at customer calls as mere tickets. Customers today want to be treated well. Dull, uninspiring agents reading out from templates are a turn-off. Personalize the experience. Remember their first name when you do a follow-up. Ask them about their day. Show that you care.
Have bundles of patience and empathy
Being a support agent is not a rosy job. You’re going to get severe flak from some customers whilst others are going to be quite arrogant. That being said, it’s also your job to handle all these customers intelligently without letting them get to you. Take a step back and put yourself in their shoes before you start talking. Once you understand where they are coming from, it’s become a lot easier to diffuse these tricky situations.
Be in the I-want-to-constantly-learn mindset
Feeling bored talking to customers all day? Maybe you aren’t focused on learning more and pushing your boundaries. Keep yourself constantly updated with how support is changing today. Are there new technologies that help you serve customers better? Is there a more tactful approach to handle angry customers? It’s up to you to turn the boring day job into a role where you build quality customer relationships.
Keep your personal stuff aside
Being in a customer-facing role comes with a sort of discipline that can be hard to live up to. But, you cannot let your personal feelings get in the middle of your job. Be it a fight with your spouse, a disagreement with relatives, or a lack of motivation to get to work, we cannot stress how important it is to stay focused on the customer.
Always close the feedback loop
Empathizing and replying back to customers politely amounts to very little if you aren’t able to offer tangible solutions. As a customer support agent, your ultimate goal has to be closing the feedback loop and ensuring that the customer is delighted. If this involves doing multiple internal follow-ups, and updating the customer proactively, so be it. Closing the feedback loop is also an important metric that is used to track agent performance.
Work as a team
As much as customer support can be a lonely and tiresome job, it does involve a fair amount of teamwork. Knowing who to reach out for certain shares, share ideas with, and collaborate to solve complaints, can be extremely helpful in your personal career growth as well as in getting the customer query solved in time.
Do you tick all these qualities as an agent? If you think we’ve missed out on anything that is needed to be a top support agent, let us know in the comments below.
Publish Date: September 23, 2018 5:00 AM
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