Reference: www.talkdesk.com. Shauna Geraghty, 2013
Call center agents can be the first and only contact point for customers and are therefore often the face of a company.
Every positive interaction a customer has with a company can turn them into a loyal customer and evangelist. Thus, positive interactions with well-trained agent will increase customer lifetime value and brand awareness. Apart from providing your call center agents with an intuitive and easy-to-use call center software, giving them the proper training to treat every customer with courtesy and grace is extremely important.
Below are 10 tips for call center etiquette excellence agents and managers should always be aware of when interacting with customers.
1. Be courteous
Agents should always treat each caller with courtesy. Ask how they prefer to be addressed, make every attempt to pronounce their name correctly and use this name consistently. Talk with a smile, remain calm and speak clearly. Wait for the person to finish speaking before speaking. These simple tips will go a long way in interacting with the caller in a positive and professional manner.
2. Be professional
Agents should maintain a level of professionalism throughout the entire conversation. They are the face of the company, so they should have adequate training and should be monitored for adherence to quality standards. All conversations should be in line with corporate values and goals.
3. Be respectful
All customers should be treated with respect. Throughout each interaction, agents should remain calm, act rationally and treat the caller as if they were the most valued customer. Respect also involves understanding the caller’s needs and making an effort to accommodate them. Agents should attempt to understand the causes of the customer’s problem, realize how their problem affects their behavior and respond with compassion.
4. Be honest
Agents should always be honest with their customers and with themselves. Agents should never lie, guess or make up an answer. If the customer’s problem is beyond their competence level, the agent should politely explain that they will transfer the customer to an employee who can better address their needs.
5. Be trustworthy
Building trust is essential, not only for the interaction to progress smoothly, but also to build positive brand awareness for the company. Trust is based on ethical principles such as character and competence. It requires truthfulness, honesty, reliability, loyalty and integrity. In order to ensure that your staff is trustworthy, monitor for their adherence to these character traits and the values of your company.
6. Be confident
Confidence is critical for any productive interaction. Ensure that your staff is well trained, well managed and properly equipped to handle difficult situations. This will instill confidence, interactions will be more effective and the image of the company will be more positive.
7. Be competent
Agents must demonstrate a certain level of competence to adequately address the customer’s needs. When the customer’s demands are too high, they must refer them to someone with more experience who can effectively handle their issue or concern.
8. Be interested
Agents must take a genuine interest in the customer’s question or concerns. This will make the process more enjoyable for both the agent and the caller. Call center work can be very monotonous. Agents should keep it fresh by taking a genuine interest in each caller’s unique situation, asking personal questions and attempting to make a quick connection.
9. Be neutral
Agents should not offer opinions or introduce their own biases into the conversation. They should always take a neutral stance on issues, but empathize with the caller’s needs. Taking a neutral stance will allow agents to more effectively solve problems in an efficient manner.
10. Be flexible
Agents should anticipate the unexpected and be prepared to change course when necessary. Sometimes pertinent information will be obtained that can change the course of the problem solving efforts. Agents should always be flexible, welcome the change and keep the customer informed of the reasons for the change.
Providing quality service to each customer should be a priority of every call center. Managers and decision makers should define call center etiquette guidelines, allocate sufficient funds for proper training and monitor for adherence to the guidelines. When all agents adhere to etiquette guidelines, companies will gain an image of trustworthiness, honesty and effectiveness. This positive brand awareness is critical to any company’s success.