According to customer service statistics, 91% of unhappy customers aren’t willing to do repeat business with a company they’ve had contact with. However, if you can resolve an issue in their favour, 70% of customers are willing to continue doing business again.
Statistics like these show just how important great customer support and call handling are to your bottom line and customer retention.
A massive amount of business is done over the phone these days and so one of the most critical areas for a business to focus its attention on is customer interactions on telephone calls. Customers rely on phoning companies to get things done. Being able to pick up the phone and speak directly to one of your representatives can be a reassuring first point of contact for new customers. For existing customers, potentialy experiencing any issues, this can also be the quickest way for them to get an answer and a resolution. Because of this, customers hold the telephone as a very important tool in dealing with businesses.
So, consequently, when dealing with their customers over the phone, it’s vital to maintain a consistently high level of customer service on calls. Because of this, we’ve put together a collection of tips to help you implement exceptional customer interactions over the telephone. Let’s take a look…
Customer Response Times
Let’s start from the beginning of the journey. A customer calls your business…
- How long does the customer have to wait for an answer?
- What’s your typical pickup/response time?
- Is your system automated in any way?
- If your callers are waiting, are they queued?
- Are they listening to options to direct the call more efficiently or is the line just ringing and ringing…
As callers are actively waiting, hold times can feel a lot longer than they actually are. According to research, consumers’ perception of hold times is often far longer than the actual duration.
Remember, customers are tied to the phone during this time, waiting for a response. Minimising the holding time, keeping the caller stimulated, and using this time productively is vital to minimising hang-up rates and therefore a negative experience.
Tackling the above will give the caller a more positive experience whilst waiting sets the tone, whilst showing respect for their time.
Following a potential waiting period, the next step is nailing a greeting with warmth and with enthusiasm.
If your business handles a lot of incoming calls throughout the day, it’s easy for the person or people answering the calls to fall into a less-than-warm welcome. After a few phone calls, it’s easy to slip into a memorised, scripted auto-pilot. This may seem fine for the one answering the call, however, this can seem robotic and insincere to the caller.
Therefore, at periodic parts of the day, remind those agents dealing with call handling to keep up the enthusiasm and answer the calls with genuine warmth and friendliness. Each customer contacting your business needs to feel valued and not just another customer amongst many that day.
You’ll probably be able to recall a time when you’ve spoken to a company to raise an issue and, when speaking to the agent, you just get the feeling they’re not listening and don’t actually care. This is an example of the difference between HEARING you and LISTENING to you.
Call handling is all about solutions – and proactive solutions start with active listening. Not only does this give your agents the information they need to resolve the issue and avoid any rework, but it also gives assurance to the customer that they’re being heard – much like the previous point.
Practising Empathy With All Customers
Besides active listening, call handlers should show empathy in all situations. Easier said than done maybe. But if your customers feel like your business doesn’t care about them or their issues, it’s highly likely that those customers are going to find another business, like yours, that does.
Therefore, even if they are being unreasonable or not being patient, the call handler must not respond simply in kind. Instead, they should express sympathy and empathise with the customer about the issue.
Aside from verbally expressing empathy, the call handlers should also provide audible queues. These should show the caller that they are listening and are in sympathy with the customer.
Avoid Placing Blame
Call handlers should at all costs avoid placing blame during a call on the phone with a customer.
Even if the issue is partially the customer’s fault, the last thing they’d want is to hear this. Having it pointed out to them will only make matters worse. Always steer clear of allocating blame and focus on resolving the problem. Call handling is all about keeping smooth operations whilst keeping customers happy, so handlers should always be looking to deescalate and resolve.
Validating The Customer
Clients who aren’t having a good customer experience need to feel heard. Validating the way an unhappy customer is feeling can go a long way to reversing their experience.
If a customer is airing frustration, a valid response might be: “It’s completely understandable that you feel this way. I am going to do my best to see how we can resolve this for you.” Validating the customer’s feelings, empathising with them and reassuring the customer that you want to help them resolve the issue. Callers just want to be heard, so validating a customer is sometimes enough.
Keeping The Customer Informed On The Call
Keeping customers informed is another way to optimise calls. Whilst on the phone, things like long pauses and unexpected transfers can be highly offputting, especially if the customer is looking for a speedy resolution to something.
To prevent this from happening, call handlers should communicate with the customers what they are busy doing, if there is a pause, say something along the lines of “I’m just reviewing your account, give me one moment while I check the status”. This information lets them know you’re actively working on something. Not just holding in silence. These very quick prompts could make all the difference in a customer’s perception.
Conveying A Sense Of Urgency
Conveying a sense of urgency is another effective method for re-establishing customer trust.
If a customer is having an issue and the representative they speak to doesn’t seem in a hurry to resolve it—this can give a strong impression that your business doesn’t care. They want you to care as much as they do.
So, to get this, your call handler should convey a sense of urgency. Whilst on the phone with customers, any actions that can be done there and then should be done on-the-spot, such as sending a quick note to another department or consulting a colleague. Reassurance is key when communicating with customers over the phone and so letting them know that you are putting the first domino in place can really help make them feel as though they are in safe hands.
So you’re ready to upgrade your organisation’s customer interactions over the phone? Hopefully from this blog you’ve learnt a lot about call handling and keeping callers happy – but do you have the Telephone System to implement full efficiency and optimisation?
Modern telephone systems come with a vast collection of features that are very customer-centric, whilst providing the tools to you, the business owner, to maximise every opportunity, to never miss a call, automate answering, customise on-hold messaging and much, much more.
If you would like to see a demonstration of a Yo Telecom telephone system complete our simple contact form below where we’ll come with everything you need to see.