Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. Keep them happy, and they’ll buy from you time and time again and continue to send new customers your way.
You already know that providing great customer service is important, so if you have a call center in place, you’re more than halfway there. But how do you ensure that your support team is providing the best service possible?
The effectiveness of your call center depends on proper agent training, having the right tools in place, and focusing on continuous improvement.
In fact, there are many call center best practices you can implement today to keep your customers happy and coming back for more.
1. Have a Centralized Knowledge Base
As we always say, “Knowledge is power”, and having your organization’s knowledge right at your fingertips is the best way to provide great service to customers, fast.
An effective knowledge base organizes your company’s data, information, important documents, training materials, and more so it’s readily accessible to your customer support team.
With an efficient system in place, agents can pull up customer data, call scripts, FAQ documents, and the like to provide customers with the answers they need without delay.
Having this knowledge base in place also ensures consistency, as agents aren’t scrambling to find different answers or having to go “off the cuff”.
2. Aim to Serve
Many businesses see customer support as a tedious yet necessary component of running a business. But you shouldn’t treat call center service like a chore. Aim to serve by actively listening to customers and doing your very best to help them.
Your call center’s #1 priority is to resolve problems to make your customers happy. Begrudgingly answering calls won’t offer customers the service they deserve and may even result in some negative reviews for your company.
Focus on value, being as helpful as possible, and serving customers as if they’re the most important thing in your business (because they are!).
3. Avoid Negativity and Finger-Pointing
It’s easy to say “It’s not our fault” or “It’s not our problem”, but this gets you nowhere. What’s important is that your call center agents do everything in their power to resolve the issue and keep customers happy.
This starts with considering the language your agents use in dealing with customers.
Are they saying “You shouldn’t have done that”? Or are they saying “We’re sorry that happened. Here’s how we can fix it”?
Agents should take a positive tone and focus on solutions, not problems. It helps to have a script and/or thoroughly prepare agents with proper training on what to say and what not to say.
4. Create Call Center SOPs
Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are documents, videos, or processes that outline exactly how your team should handle certain situations or perform certain tasks.
When it comes to your call center, some smart SOPs to have might be:
- A training video on what to say and what not to say to customers over the phone
- A step-by-step process on how to access your company’s knowledge base to find information
- A document that outlines how to record customer information and inquiries
- A process for your support team on how to follow up with customers after the call
You can add these SOPs to your company’s knowledge management system for easy access. Make sure that all agents have reviewed these documents and know how to access them whenever they need them.
5. Show, Don’t Tell
As a customer, it can be frustrating to call customer support, just to not understand the instructions they are trying to give you.
Whenever possible, try to explain to customers step-by-step how to fix problems on their end if you aren’t able to fix it yourself. Be as detailed (and patient) as possible.
Sometimes simply telling customers what to do will add to more confusion and frustration. Screensharing and screenshots can help customers navigate complicated tools and troubleshoot problems with ease.
6. Provide Thorough Call Center Agent Training
Don’t leave new customer service agents to their own devices.
Offer proper training from the very beginning to help prevent costly mistakes. Your agents will thank you for not throwing them into a “sink or swim” situation and you’ll save yourself a lot of grief when it comes to disgruntled customers.
The SOPs you created previously can work as training tutorials. You can also instruct your top-performing agents to help new agents navigate your systems and learn how to provide high-quality service.
7. Utilize Call Monitoring Tools
You can use call tracking and monitoring tools to record customer information (name, phone number. etc.) to help your call center stay on top of inquiries.
In some US states, you can even listen to audio recording for quality assurance purposes and use this information to improve your call center’s service over time.
It’s always recommended that your call center take down the customer’s information so your team can follow up with them after the call. This gives you an opportunity to confirm that they found what they were looking for, and even pitch them on additional services.
8. Have a System for Organizing Customer Inquiries
As stated above, you should have a system in place to record customer information and inquiries.
9. Publish Helpful FAQ Content and Tutorials
Over time, you’ll realize that you receive many of the same questions over and over. At which point, it will be smart to publish content that you can send to customers in just a few clicks.
This content (like tutorials or FAQ pages) can be published on your website or be housed in a self-service knowledge base. Customers can search for their customers and get their questions answered right away.
10. Encourage Creative Problem Solving
Sometimes your call center agents will get questions that truly stump them. But when you empower your agents to use creative problem solving, they can solve just about any problem that comes their way.
Encourage your team to seek out-of-the-box solutions when there isn’t other information available. At the very least, your customers will appreciate the effort. If they can’t resolve the issue, then they can refer the customer to the manager or head of customer support.
11. Score Calls to Improve Service Over Time
With call monitoring, you may be able to listen to call after-the-fact and score them (1-10 or “Poor” to “Great”) based on how the agent handled the call.
This isn’t to put an agent on the spot but to identify areas of improvement. You can then set a standard score you want all agents to hit to ensure that everyone in your call center is providing the best customer support possible.
12. Offer Incentives to Agents
Your agents do the heavy lifting when it comes to providing customer service. Reward them for great performance and incentivize them with bonuses to do even better.
An investment in your team is an investment in your business. The better your call center is, the happier your customers will be and they more likely they will be to work with your company again. Words of encouragement alone can do much to improve employee satisfaction and company culture.
13. Establish and Measure Important KPIs
What qualifies as “great customer support”? To answer that question, your company should determine which key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure when it comes to agent performance and customer satisfaction.
Some metrics to measure may include:
- Number of customers served
- Number of tickets successfully resolved
- Customer satisfaction ratings
- Whether a resolution ended in a positive review
- Speed of resolving customer issues
Whichever metrics you choose, it’s important to establish these KPIs so you can set benchmarks for performance. Discuss these as goals at your next call center training meeting and include them in your agent performance reviews.
14. Communicate with Call Center Agents Effectively (and Often)
One important call center best practice is to check in on your agents on a regular basis. They are one of your main sources of insight into how your customer service process is doing.
Ask them where they see areas for improvement, how you can better assist them, and if they need additional tools to help them on the job. You can even create an SOP on how to communicate any issues effectively to avoid delays.
15. Keep Your Door Open
Make sure your agents know that your virtual (or physical) door is always open if they have feedback, issues, or complaints.
While it’s not always fun to address conflict, it helps keep that line of communication open and improve your business over time. The worst thing would be you getting left in the dark because your employees are afraid to approach you about important problems.
16. Use Customer Surveys to Evaluate Service
You can offer surveys to customers (at the end of the call or via email) to receive feedback on your call center’s performance.
Again, this feedback won’t always be pretty, but it is important when it comes to improving your call center. Make the changes and this will surely pay off in terms of happy customers and repeat business.
17. Focus on Continuous Improvement
You and your call center agents should always be looking for ways to improve. Part of this involves keeping your eyes and ears open to what customers are saying. Another part is staying on top of the latest technology and trends.
The best way to make sure you are continuously improving is to stay up to date on the latest news. The Helpjuice blog covers all things customer support, company culture, knowledge management, and more.
18. Schedule Regular Check-Ins and Training Sessions
Implement what you learn from your customer surveys and the latest trends by offering regular training sessions to your call center team.
Every meeting or training should have a clear agenda. Outline what is going to be learned, what tools you are introducing, and where agents can find SOPs.
Again, your knowledge management system is a great place to house this information after the meeting or session so agents can access it whenever they need it.
19. Follow Up with Customers
An essential call center best practice to follow is following up with customers after the call.
Once an issue is resolved, have an agent send the customer an email to confirm that the issue was resolved effectively. If it was, they can kindly ask for a positive review. If it wasn’t, they can take additional steps to resolve the issue.
This is crucial because it prevents any customers from being left hanging. You have a second chance to fix the problem and make them happy!
20. Reach Out for Positive Reviews
If a customer is happy with the service they receive, they may be inclined to write a positive review. It’s best practice to ask customers for a review if you get the opportunity to do so. Agents can direct customers to your business’s Facebook page, Yelp listing, Google listing, or other review platforms.
Doing so can actually improve your website’s Google rankings, as well as entice more customers to buy your products or work with your company.
Does Your Call Center Follow Quality Assurance Best Practices?
Improve customer service with a call center that runs like a well-oiled machine. By following the best practices above, you’ll be well on your way to having happier agents and happier customers.
Helpjuice makes it easy to organize customer information, training SOPs, and all the information your team needs to do their job well. Create your knowledge base today and start seeing happier customers tomorrow.