When a caller comes through it goes without saying that they can’t see our face, they can’t read our expressions and they can’t monitor our body language. They have only our tone to go off, our inflection and perhaps most importantly, the words of our carefully crafted scripts.
Our agents might know those scripts off by heart and the Compliance team monitoring and marking the calls will pick up if you’ve missed a few sentences or changed a few words, but the caller on the other hand has no idea. In fact, it’s most likely that they won’t remember the exact words you’ve used at all. What matters to the caller is the service you provided.
I called a contact centre only yesterday, less than 24 hours ago, and I wouldn’t be able to tell you everything we discussed. I don’t remember the agent’s name nor what exact words were shared between us. What I can remember however is that I was unhappy with the customer service. It wasn’t because the agent didn’t stick to the script or tick every box compliance-wise, I’m sure they did, but I was unhappy because customer service isn’t always about what you do, it’s about how you do it.
The job isn’t always an easy one, but the caller doesn’t need to know that. Tone and manner are just as important as a resolution. People will forget what you said, they may even forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel. When people call us it’s usually because they have a problem or a query. We need to make them feel listened to, understood and valued. We do this with our tone, not our script, and it’s service like this that makes the caller more willing to comply with a process or disregard how long a difficult call might take. It is this kind of service that sends the customer away feeling like the call wasn’t a waste of time.
Publish Date: August 29, 2017 5:00 AM
Patience, not all callers have it. They want everything and they want you to give it to them right now or else your NPS score will be terrible. The customer’s time is precious, we know this, but ours is too right? We have average call times to worry about, people waiting in queue and surveys to offer so when a lengthy struggle is thrown into the mix it gets pretty hard to keep patient yourself.
My first instinct in these times is to get rid of this caller and fast.
“Good morning Mr. Smith, yes here is all the information you require in one big gulp, take my survey thanks, bye.”
Right, on to the next call. But guess what? It’s Mr. Smith again with the exact same problem and the exact same questions. What is going on, why is Mr Smith doing this to me? I know he has the information he needs, I just gave it to him. But I gave it to him too fast and he has no idea what it means. We deal with these queries all day, every day and know our processes inside and out. But Mr. Smith is a plumber or a teacher or a doctor. This isn’t his specialty and he has no idea what to do with the lump of information I just spewed at him.
So here is Mr Smith, back again. I want my call to be compliant so I have to ask the same security questions again, have to ask him to explain his problem all over again even though I already know what he will say. I’m annoyed, he’s annoyed and suddenly our one quick call has turned into two calls, the second being much longer and more irate than the first.
This is where the patience comes in. If I had just taken that small amount of extra time to not just give MR Smith the information but explain thoroughly I could have prevented a repeat call. Less repeat calls means less people in the queues, less people refusing NPS because they’ve “already done it” and less pressure to hurry calls. More time to actually be patient, be understanding and show we care.
Publish Date: July 21, 2017 5:00 AM
Scripts are an easy way to remember everything and ensure that everything needing to be said and asked, gets said and asked.
But what are the issues that arise when creating and using scripts?
They’re too long
When a Sales person calls or when you call to complain about something, you can tell when something is scripted because it goes on for what seems a lifetime. When really, all you needed was the bare bones of the conversation.
When you call to have a query answered or just need information, some scripts don’t allow for the human touch. Again – you can tell when something is too scripted.
The scripts are out-dated
Having scripts is an easy way towards getting Customer Service ‘right’, but scripts do get out-dated. They need to be tested and re-evaluated often.
They’re hard to navigate
We’ve mentioned that putting your customer on hold is a terrible thing. So, we don’t need to go into detail about why, but putting your customers on hold while you find the right script and the right lines will never work in your favour.
They don’t allow for every problem to be fixed
Not having room in the script to add human conversation and allowing spontaneity will bite you when there’s a problem needing to be fixed but there’s no room for smaller problems to be solved.
Publish Date: June 15, 2017 5:00 AM
Is Customer Service what it used to be?
If you go back a few years, you’ll see that Customer Service was very different because of what was available at the time, what the emphasis was put on and the resources that were available at the time (eg. AI).
Let’s start with going over what Customer Service is. It’s the way you service your customers and the outcome should essentially be to have a happy customer.
There is far more emphasis on Customer Service and the Customer Experience now that there are so many ways to do it. You can have it online, in person, via chat, Social Media, messaging, AI or even using chatbots.
Going back 20 years, Customer Service could be 100% by flashing a smile and helping the customer with their inquiry. There wasn’t a Social Media page to vent about your experience back then, so no one knew if the company was great until you told them. You can have as many options as you like when it comes to your customers, but having the right channel and the right approach is what matters.
Navigating the maze of Customer Service can be tricky with so many different options. First, you should look at your target market and their habits – Are they going into a shop and doing business face to face? Are they chatting online? Are they researching your website and reviews before they even consider coming in to see you? Having this information would be your starting point.
Publish Date: June 9, 2017 5:00 AM
What we’ve noticed with Customer Experience in 2017, so far.
It’s becoming increasingly important
Some would argue that it’s more important than beating price, products or anything else that you would compete with. People are willing to pay more and travel more – for a better experience.
An increase in assistance
Chatbots and AI are becoming increasingly popular in helping achieve a better Customer Experience. Companies are relying less and less on humans to be solely responsible.
Companies have realized that not all customers are the same – so not all Customer Experiences should be. Each customer is different, and it’s good that companies are catching on.
More is being done about keeping customers, and not just gaining new ones. Companies have started to realise that there is more return to be made when you keep current customers.
Publish Date: June 6, 2017 5:00 AM
Let’s say that you don’t know anything about what happens in a contact centre. You may read our blogs where you see ‘Inbound’ and ‘Outbound’ used so often and have no idea what these terms even mean. Let’s look at what these terms are and what they mean.
An Inbound Contact Centre
This means that calls come in. Essentially, this is the Customer Service part of the contact centre where a sales pitch isn’t usually necessary. It’s this part of the contact centre that will solve customer problems and queries they might have.
If you’ve had any issues with a product, want to make a complaint or simply want to speak to someone – if you dial the phone, it is an Inbound contact centre that you will be transferred to.
An Outbound Contact Centre
What may come to mind is the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ movie, because these teams work hard and they sell. They are the people who will call you with a sales pitch and something to offer.
You may be thinking of those people who call you at dinner time with something you’ve never thought of, for a price you probably can’t afford. But there is more than just the stereotype.
These teams do cross-selling, upselling, debt collection, market research, contract renewals, appointment making, contract renewals and so much more.
The basic rule of thumb is – if they call you, they are Outbound calling. If you call them, you are calling an Inbound Contact Centre.
Publish Date: May 25, 2017 5:00 AM
It doesn’t take much to ruin a great experience. Let’s look at a few things that can take a great experience and make it into a bad one.
Saying you can’t help
When you’re in a department store and so desperately need help, or when you’ve been on hold for what seems like a lifetime, the last thing you need is to finally find someone who then simply says ‘sorry, that’s not my department. I can’t help’ Or something along those lines. Say goodbye to a great customer experience.
Not greeting your customer
Similarly, what will ruin the efforts of giving great customer experience, is failing to acknowledge the customer. Not smiling at or greeting your customer is a fast way to send them away from your business.
Getting annoyed or frustrated
Showing that you are less than happy or less than enthused to be helping your customer will make them feel as though they aren’t wanted in your business. Even if it’s fake, you need to be happy around your customers. They don’t need to know the issues that your company is having.
Are things too complicated for your customers? Do they just want to make a simple purchase but the need to sign up to every loyalty scheme seems to be turning them away? Having things that are too time-consuming or too complicated can really put a dent in the Customer Experience.
Not having the after-sales support
Not necessarily just with sales, but when a transaction takes place, there is a need to have support if anything does go wrong. This can either be with a phone call, email, or even somewhere you can go to have things sorted for you.
Publish Date: May 19, 2017 5:00 AM
Customer Experience Management
What is it?
Let’s break it down.
Customer Experience is the experience or feeling that customers get when they have an interaction with your business.
Why does it matter?
This is where Customer Experience Management plays a role in your business. The needs and wants of your customers will always be changing, as the experience should be.
The ‘management’ part of this is asking what your customers want and need from your business and then making sure that the ‘experience’ is catering to this. These needs change over time, and so should your approach.
Think about it, once you have a business up and running, are you still asking what the customer ‘wants’ or ‘needs’? Or are you keeping to your tried and true method and not changing the way you approach your Customer Service? This is something that needs to be managed to ensure that your business is changing the approach to Customer Experience, at the same rate as what needs are changing.
How can you utilize this?
When in business, it is easy to fall into the method that has worked for you since a long time ago. But, the world (customers) is something that is ever-changing and that same method or approach may not work anymore. This is a common pitfall for businesses, where they get surpassed by a newer and younger company that has done this investigation and know what the current market is expecting of you and your business.
Publish Date: April 28, 2017 5:00 AM
Outsourcing when there is an area of your business being run by another business. You can outsource anything, an example could be IT support, Social Media, your Contact Centre, anything! So why would you do it? Here are 5 reasons why.
Reduce your costs
Outsourcing will save your business money by no staff costs, training costs, hiring costs, etc. You get to decide the pay structure and work with the chosen outsourcing business to have a plan that fits you.
Outsourcing means that you will have skilled and experienced staff working on your campaign, without you needing to find or train them.
Reach a new target audience
If you aren’t in the country that you are outsourcing to, you will be entering a new market and will have new possibilities in front of you.
You get advice from professionals
The company you are outsourcing to will have had a lot of experience and will be equipped with a lot of knowledge. This means you can quickly gain advice and recommendations from people who have already been through this with other companies.
You will have a competitive advantage with a cost structure. You will be spending less money on your fixed costs, as they become variable costs. You will also have more money to re-invest into your business.
Publish Date: April 28, 2017 5:00 AM
Yes and No’s to giving great customer service when working in a contact centre
Give the customer their identity
Remember their name and use it in the conversation you have with them.
Talk AND listen
Remember that when you are dealing with a customer, they are wanting you to fix their problem and they are wanting you to reassure them that everything will work out in their favour. It is important to listen as much, if not more than you talk.
What does the Customer want?
Do you know what the customer is wanting and do you know their problem? You need to focus on that, rather than the ‘aim’ or ‘goal’ of up selling or closing a sale. You are solving a problem, NOT being a Sales Shark.
We honestly can’t put enough stress on this and we mention it any chance we get. You need to measure the success of a call, or the satisfaction of the service you have given. If you aren’t measuring, how do you know if you are doing a good job, or solving the issues at hand?
Do not get frustrated with the customer
Sometimes the customer can get you frustrated and can make you want to lose the plot with them. Not everyone has unlimited patience come to them naturally.
Don’t only rely on the script
Scripts are great to use when you are in training, or when situations are getting tricky. Sticking to a script will save you. However, what about the conversation that makes you human? You can have conversations with you customers without breaking any rules.
Don’t admit that you have no idea.
You can say that you are unsure but that you will find the information out, but you can’t admit that you have no clue. That will not only upset the customer, but they will quickly start to doubt you and your job.
Don’t put your customer on hold
This is another killer of Customer Service. No one enjoys being put on hold, it’s irritating. Sometimes it is necessary so that you can find the information you need. However, you can’t constantly do this to your customers, it gets annoying and becomes frustrating.
Publish Date: April 18, 2017 5:00 AM
Working in a contact centre, you have scripts and strict processes to follow. But that shouldn’t stop you from going the extra mile.
How does Telnet do it?
Quite often, you can walk by our agents who will be looking up directions for customers or searching a number for them. Sometimes, they will even give local knowledge on an area or tips and tricks.
This is not in the script and isn’t expected by anyone. Yet, we do it.
Why? Well, isn’t that how you would like to be treated? You would want to call someone, and if they had the means or the knowledge that you don’t, you would want help from them? Yes, you would. Because that is Customer Service and that’s what helping people is all about.
If you call people and all they do is read from a script, is that not too robotic that it makes you feel as though you are talking to AI? There are some things that simply can’t be replaced – like the need to help the customer by going that little bit extra for your customers, the extra knowledge and experience you may have and then the emotional attachment can’t be replicated by something without a heart.
Sharing these experiences or heartfelt conversations are sometimes all that is needed to make your customers feel special.
Going the extra mile doesn’t need to be extreme and you don’t need to do things that really do put you out, it can really be as simple as giving a little extra conversation or a tip on where to buy the best ice-cream in the area you’re traveling to.
Sometimes, that’s all it takes.
Publish Date: March 29, 2017 5:00 AM
Ministry for Primary Industries (‘MPI’) has announced the award of a contract to Telnet Services Limited for the delivery of Contact Centre Services. From mid-March 2017, Telnet will assume responsibility for the provision of year-round, 24/7 contact centre services for two 0800 lines: the MPI General Enquiries line and the MPI Pest and Disease line. Telnet is delighted to have been selected to provide these important services to MPI.
Publish Date: March 20, 2017 5:00 AM
Call centres handle a huge amount of calls and are sometimes stressful places where you can forget the basics. But being in a call centre, you are often the only point of contact customers have with the company. Here are a few starter tips on how to work in a call centre.
First and foremost, customers hate bad Customer Service. Being polite will not only make your customers feel special, but they will most likely be more willing to co-operate.
Treat customers like individuals:
Understand that each customer is an individual with individual needs is the first step to a happy customer. Treating all customers as if you are a robot will only anger them and probably make them regret calling in the first place.
The worst thing you can do it get angry or worked up. In a call centre, you will come across so many different callers so it’s essential that you keep calm, even when this isn’t your first instinct.
Or if not, at least act interested. This will help to make the customer feel relaxed and makes you seem personable. Great Customer Service starter tip.
When someone has called for help, the worst thing is when they feel that the person on the other end has no idea what they are doing. Show that they are wrong. Be confident that you know what you are doing. Not only does this help the whole situation by making the customer feel at ease, but it will stop the situation from getting out of hand.
Show that you care
In fact, one of Telnet’s core values is that ‘We Care.’ This applies in every situation in life. But when in Customer Service, showing the customer that you care will make the whole conversation flow with ease.
Don’t be biased
When a customer calls with an issue, they will be wanting help. You can’t go into the situation already thinking that they are wrong and not wanting to help them. You must take every interaction as a new one, with a fresh mindset and understand that the customer doesn’t know everything that you do.
Publish Date: March 10, 2017 5:00 AM
Are your customers having a great experience with your company?
Sure, your sales may be increasing and the word on the street is that your company is great, but are they coming back and do they have a good feeling when they think of your business? The true test here is that you will have people who leave and say a lot about your business, but are they wanting to come back and do further business with you?
Basically, you want your customers to self-confirm the sale. Sometimes the X-factor or better Customer Experience comes after the sale or business transaction. After a sale, the customer may need help, advice, an exchange or maybe even refund their product. Are you handling this well?
I was watching cartoons on the weekend, (one of those ‘putting good ethics into children’ type of cartoons) and one character opened a burger shop. Their burgers were delicious and everyone loved them. But after they had purchased their burgers, customers were not given the time to enjoy their meals before being pushed out for the next lot of customers. They all ended up leaving and going elsewhere, where the service was great and the after-service was even better.
This is not just applicable in cartoons, it’s a real-life theory that crosses over into the way of business. You need to take care of your customers, right from the moment they cross your path and remember that there are usually problems after the transaction has occurred.
Publish Date: February 28, 2017 5:00 AM
Can you imagine working in a job where you are constantly being told ‘no thanks. Not today. Nope, not interested…’ and then hung up on? That is what Sales people put up with. It certainly would take a certain type of person, right? Right.
So that is why taking a walk through the outbound area of our office, or heading to our North West office, you will hear cheering and music with words of encouragement being yelled out. There is so much life and excitement within our Outbound teams that it makes you wonder why. It’s needed.
If you were only hearing negative things from customers, imagine what that would do to your mindset. Especially given the fact that Sales people are trained, and have the mentality that they must ‘Always Be Closing.’
There are also briefings where you hear so much laughter and chanting from the outside. This got me intrigued, so I had to sit in on a few.
They play games
I got to play games with one team. After they have their lunch break, they will huddle together and play competitive but fun games to lift spirits and help you forget any bad call you may have had that day.
Jokes, jokes, and more jokes!
There were so many jokes and so much laughter in between motivational speeches that would make you want to join Sales if you hadn’t already.
The jokes between calls also keep the whole floor alive and in such good spirits. Everyone is so happy and lively that it makes you want to stay around them, more!
So why does this happen?
It is all about lifting staff, because we understand that it is hard working in Sales and it can be tough when sales aren’t being made and targets aren’t being met. But instead of picking our agents out and making them feel worse, we make an effort to pick all sales members up and lift their spirits in between calls.
Publish Date: January 25, 2017 5:00 AM