Call centers get a bad rap for being stress inducing, soul sucking, and just plain dreadful places to work. That may be true for some, but if you’re a savvy call center leader, making the most of your work, and walking away from each day unscathed, is completely possible. Not all of us know the secret to keeping a positive and productive outlook at work, but thankfully we have the Internet for that. Reddit, the popular site best known for viral memes and gifs, has a number of threads dedicated to the contact center. In these ingenious forums, veteran call center employees share tricks of the trade, words of wisdom, and general hacks that have helped them to enjoy working in this environment.
We’ve compiled 25 of the best contact center hacks from these Reddit threads, to help you become more successful in this field of work (and avoid sitting in a straitjacket):
1. The mute button is a great feature for venting (very cathartic on stressful calls). Just keep in mind it can be your best friend when it works, and your worst enemy when it’s not working.
2. NEVER say or give off any kind of hints to the customer that you’re a newbie. Why? It makes the customer less confident in you and they could use it against you in the call.
3. Make your notes as you go. Most employee computers have access to a note pad. Open it up and (briefly) write down the steps you take while you are helping the customer. Then when it’s time to close the call, you will have your notes already done, and just copy/paste into your Call Log.
5. You’ll learn best through experience, so don’t be hard on yourself! Analyze the complicated calls and take notes in case the issue comes up again. Also…don’t be afraid to seek the help from your colleagues. Listen to their calls when you’re not on one yourself, and pick up on what you like or what you think are good techniques.
6. Show empathy to the clients, not sympathy. Don’t cry with them, but let them know that you’re there to help and listen. You’ll take care of their situation the best you can. If the customer knows that you genuinely want to help it will calm them down.
7. If you have a question, research it then ask your supervisor. If the supervisor tells you something that conflicts with your research then press the issue and ask more questions, don’t just go with what they tell you.
8. Use your natural speaking voice and cadence whenever possible. If you sound relaxed, it can help relax the customer in turn, leading to better calls.
9. Don’t be afraid to put a customer on hold so you can ask for advice from a colleague or supervisor.
11. Buy silly putty, a Rubik’s cube, or other fiddle toy. Do you macramé? Bring your cord. You’ll be sitting a lot, with varying periods between phone calls. The goal here is to keep yourself engaged one way or another.
12. Have fun with your callers. Talk with a smile on your face; the caller can literally hear it. Make a fake grimace until it becomes natural; no one can tell the difference, except for the guy in the cubicle across from you, and I guarantee you, he’s seen worse.
13. Be nice to all your coworkers. You don’t want them to hate you. If they do hate you, it’s not the end of the world. Eight months ago, I had a call center nemesis. Nowadays, we’re buying each other birthday presents and making inappropriate jokes.
14. If you get a weird caller, share the story. At least some of your coworkers thrive on gossip, and can probably give you tips for handling situations in the future.
16. If you mess up, tell your supervisor IMMEDIATELY. Firstly, because they’re probably going to find out anyway, and secondly because you want to establish a reputation as a trustworthy, honorable person for when you really mess up.
17. Learn your agent information database. Learn how to get around it quickly. If it has a search engine, which most do, focus on putting in the correct keywords to get the script or article that you need to solve the customer’s problem. For example, sometimes “credits” will be found under “adjustments”.
18. Troubleshoot the issue that is actually happening, not what the customer believes is happening. For example, the customer says, “My router isn’t working”. Instead of just taking that at face value, ask probing questions to find out the true problem, like “Are you seeing any error messages on your computer screen? Are the status lights on your router off, on or flashing?”
19. Understand that many elderly people do not see the computer and the internet service as separate entities. When they say “My internet is broken”, they may very well mean that they don’t see a particular desktop icon they are used to seeing, or that their homepage has changed. Many detailed probing questions are necessary to deal with these type of folks correctly.
21. Bring a book, crochet needle and yarn, cards to play solitaire, school books or something that can help you study between calls. Also bring snacks (healthy preferably) and sit next to someone you enjoy speaking with.
22. If you’re able to grow from being an agent to being a manager or director, do it. We need more people who have been in the agent’s shoes leading the team.
For Call Center Managers:
23. Get plenty of spare equipment for your agents. Phone bases, headsets, keyboards, mice, screens and seats will all get broken, some within the first week, as a few agents will play employment roulette just to find out what they can get away with.
24. Go cloud. It will be cheaper and less maintenance.
25. Take calls. When a site director frequently sits with agents and takes calls it helps to create a positive team environment. Some will even take calls and transfer the “sales” to agents to bolster their numbers.
In this handy playbook, contact center leaders will learn the ins and outs of improving customer satisfaction.
- What is CSat, NPS, and CES
- Understanding Industry Benchmarks
- Making the Most of Customer Feedback
- Know What Makes Customers Tick
- Plus So Much More!