There is no question that customer service is changing quickly. From website FAQs, to live chat options, to social media platforms, there are an increasing amount of channels that consumers can use to reach out for help.
Still, even with all of these bells and whistles, nothing beats the emperor of all customer service options: Speaking to an actual human being.
And the research doesn’t lie: While customers certainly appreciate and use the options available to them, 79% would still prefer to talk to a call center representative over the phone than opt for self-serve online. And, call centers tend to be one of the most-used customer service channels, second only to FAQs. So, given that human-powered customer service is thriving, we call center folks need to ask: What are the key things that should happen on every call to ensure the highest level of customer satisfaction?
We all know what it feels like to have a conversation with someone who is really engaged and involved versus someone who is distracted and rushed. This is also the difference between active and passive listening, and customers are very adept at being able to discern between the two. Any good customer service call should begin with the call center agent patiently and actively listening to the customer’s concerns. Active listening means asking the right questions and gathering the correct information.
Ask (The Right) Questions
Asking questions is obviously very important, but asking the wrong questions can be disastrous. Nothing is more frustrating than having a call center agent ask you a question you have already answered (that’s why active listening is an important first step!). It is always best to start a call with open-ended questions that allow the customer a chance to provide all of the relevant information. Subsequently, a call center agent ask probing questions to get to the core of the issue, following by conclusion questions which ensure that the customer has a clear understanding of what was discussed.
It’s a no-brainer: We all feel better when we sense that we are being heard and validated. Simple, humane phrases like, “I can imagine that was very frustrating” go a long way in making disgruntled customers feel validated. This can set the tone for a calmer and more productive conversation and, subsequently, a more rapid resolution to the problem.
Empathy is a great first step in building rapport with a customer. Once that connection has been established, it is helpful for a call center agent to relate to and have compassion for the customer’s experience (such as saying, “That happens to me all the time, too!”). Really, in building rapport with a customer, it is integral to consistently remember the basic humanity of the interaction.
Call center agents are among the most valuable employees at any company because they are on the front-lines with customers. As such, they can provide a wealth of information about key pain points in the overall customer experience. That’s why it’s important to employ a system that allows call center agents to easily and efficiently record customer feedback from each call.
Despite the many different customer service channels available to consumers, a direct line to a call center agent remains an important avenue for customers. Ensuring that these five key components are a part of every call will contribute to building wonderful relationships with your (very happy) customers.