Call handling is an important part of every business. Whether it means more sales, brand building, reducing time spent dealing with enquiries or just great customer service here are ten telephone skills and tips for an improved customer service experience.
Call handling tips for before the call:
1) Set Goals. Provide your staff with key performance indicators and objectives so they know what is expected of them. I am not talking stick carrot/stick here but just knowing the path. By setting clear call handling standards and call handling performance metrics you can motivate your staff to improve their performance.
2) Ditch the ‘bots… Get people picking up the phone. If you’re a contact centre you may have to go with recorded messages and IVRs due to sheer volume of calls but it is far better to have a real person picking up the phone as soon as you can. As we know, first impressions really matter.
3) Get your staff asking for caller’s details so you can follow up. Whether you want to get a second chance to close the deal or just get feedback on how you can better inspire your customers to spread the word about your business, getting caller’s details can be invaluable.
4) Manage busy periods. Overstretched staff can’t answer the phone in a relaxed and prepared manner. Not can they spend the time needed to develop their relationship with the caller. Give your staff room to breathe if you want them to do a good job and to stick around and put your training to good use…for you.
Call handling tips for on the call:
5) Provide your staff with call handling training. Stressed staff will not cope very well with difficult callers and customer objections. Training will help prepare them for difficult situations so that a polite response becomes second nature when faced with an agitated caller. Callers want to feel valued, appreciated, respected and understood. Training can help your staff have the right skill sets to optimise those calls when they roll in.
6) Segment the calls. Customer service and support skills differ from sales skills. If possible use unique telephone tracking numbers, separate sales support, and admin numbers to ensure the best teams for that enquiry are dealing with each call.
7) Review the call statistics. Call Volumes and call volume patterns, service levels attained, abandonment rates, how many calls, where they are from, and pick up times can all give you good indicators as to how your call handling teams are performing. From this information you can see whether they are over-stressed, over-stretched or over-friendly.
8) Measure the First Call Resolution rate. Audit the calls, consider BridgeBox Call Quality Monitoring to see how you can get better results from your calls and what it is that generating more positive outcomes.
9) Ensure your teams are projecting a positive image over the telephone. Their voice, words, posture, background noise, call quality, and listening skills all help to create a positive call experience for the caller and to build the trust that they need to feel if they are to part with their cash for your services.
10) Provide your staff with accurate, reliable and up-to-the-minute information. By keeping your staff fully informed you can help them to improve their own performance and drive their career, upping the service that you provide on calls to your clients. Share successes and learn collaboratively (but sensitively) from things that haven’t worked.
Focusing on improving the telephone skills of your customer service teams will give you an insight into how your customers see you the first time they deal with you. Don’t let your great customer service, expert project management, or state of the art products down with poor call handling.