Customer support agents form the backbone of the customer service that you provide to your customers, so, it’s imperative that you prepare them in the most appropriate manner. Here are the best tips to make your support agents more productive and yield the best results through your customer service:
Workforce management is a term used for an institutional process that maximizes performance levels and competency for an organization. This process consists of all the activities needed to maintain a productive workforce, such as field service management, human resource management, performance and training management, data collection, recruiting, budgeting, forecasting, scheduling, and analytics. In other words, workforce management is an integrated set of processes that call centers use to optimize the productivity of its agents on the individual, departmental, and entity-wide levels. It also includes determining and providing schedules, forecasting, and adherence for a workforce in their future events.
The process provides a common set of performance-based tools and software for the service optimization in corporate management, front-line supervisors, store managers and workers across manufacturing, distribution, transportation, and retail operations.
The solutions using this management process can be deployed enterprise-wide and through mobile platforms. By using a software solution for demand-oriented workforce management, planners can optimize staffing by creating schedules that obey the forecasted requirements at all times. Moreover, it helps users to observe all relevant legislation, local agreements and the contracts of individual employees including work-life balance guidelines.
These efficient solutions are meant to satisfy the reality of the work that is being presented to agents. These solutions help the agents to inculcate a pool of in-depth and specific talent to be available in order to satisfy customers fully. Some of these talents include:
i) good listening ability
ii) familiarity with keyboard and IT skills and a
iii) knowledge of the business they are working in
iv) familiarity with either specific customers or customer subsets
v) specific technical knowledge
vi) exceptional customer experience and empowerment for the customer
vii) language skills (both in domestic and international markets)
viii) ability to deal with multimedia interactions
ix) Similar regional accent to the caller (where applicable).
In today’s era, quality customer service is a necessity when you are trying to stand out of the crowd. It helps you differentiate your competitors. Businesses with poor customer service risk losing revenues, profits and even going out of business. You need to know that dealing with difficult customers is a part of any business and it is inevitable that you will need to deal with a difficult customer from time to time. As a matter of fact, you can’t control anyone else’s behavior. All you have control over are your own actions. However, you can influence how customers respond to you to some extent. Here are some steps to handle such situations:
1.Listening is the key:
Understand that the customer desires to be listened. So, just tune in to the customer rather than looking for the nearest exit. Strive to acknowledge and understand the customer Let the person talk, and pay close attention to whatever he/ she says. You may even repeat or paraphrase some of what you hear.
2. Mirror your customers and connect accordingly:
In order to prepare yourself for handling difficult customers, you first need to mirror them. Some of your customers may have high technical knowledge and others may need high-level explanations. Some may need extra reassurance that things are going to be fine while others do not want to waste time unless you can offer a solution on the spot. Identifying and categorizing your customers accordingly can help you connect better with them. They will feel more like you truly understand what they want you to. Moreover, this will help them be more open to your assistance.
3. Never argue or show lack of interest:
Make it a point to never argue with customers when they are angry, displeased or complaining. When you allow a customer to push to an extent where you lose control of yourself, you lose control of the situation. Showing boredom, irritation, disdain or displeasure can make you lose a good customer.
4. Think before acting:
Dealing with difficult customers requires thinking before responding. Responding when angry can lead to nasty situations. Therefore, responses should exclude personal emotions and be given carefully.
In our previous post, we talked about the importance of FCR for call centers. You are now familiar with the numerous benefits that first call resolution can provide you once you start using it in your organization. Now, let’s look at the some of the effective strategies that can be employed to improve your first call resolution stats:
1. Leverage knowledge database:
In order to boost the FCR rate, knowledge database can be used as a powerful tool. Provide updated, highly informative and quality knowledge databases to your agents. Make sure that the articles in the database should be clear and concise, with good instructions on how to fix the issues. The knowledge database should be efficient enough so that the agents do not have to scroll through tons of unnecessary information.
2. Train your agents and provide them superior analytical tools:
Invest in training your front line agents in all the necessary elements related to your business operations. Properly trained agents can do little even if they do not have good customer service tools and resources at their disposal. To boost the FCR stats further, you can even consider investing in an efficient live chat solution that identifies where the other person is chatting from. You can deploy tools with superior analytics capabilities and knowledge resources that make updating your FAQs and knowledge base easy.
3. Monitor call quality:
Monitoring involves checking call quality, making sure the agents are not being rude and checking that the right processes were followed . In cases where the agents miss an easy FCR, a helpful email should be sent informing them of where they went wrong and what they can do next time. Meetings can be set up in those cases where the agent is making consistent mistakes and the FCR level is far below what it should be.
1. Inculcate short and pleasant customer greetings:
Visitors love being treated appropriately. Therefore, opening and closing greetings are critical to create a positive customer experience and also help in reducing average handle time. Whether automated or manual, it needs to be ensured that such greetings are short and pleasant. Instead of asking unnecessary questions, relevant questions should be asked such as “Hello Mr. ABC, how may I help you?”. Apart from reducing the average handle time, this would also instigate the customer to come directly to the point. Moreover, he/ she would definitely get impressed with the brand’s friendly attitude. Conversations can also be personalized by keeping the customer’s data up-to-date.
2. Ensure system efficiency:
Call center managers must ensure the system’s efficiency. In other words, every aspect of the system should be efficacious including the load time, number of window tabs that could be opened at one time etc. This is crucial because when system response time is slow, agents wait longer for their computer screens to refresh which adds unnecessary minutes to the overall call. Therefore, managers can take note of their system efficiency during the busiest hours of operation in order to employ strategies to reduce AHT. Moreover, the telephone lines should be up and running, with 100% voice clarity and multiple menu options such as mute/un-mute, record, etc.
3. Leverage knowledge repository:
The call center agents should be provided with necessary knowledge base so that they can quickly identify the relevant answers to some tough queries. Such that instead of thinking about the tough questions asked by the customers, the agents can quickly check the knowledge base to find the right answer, hence reducing the average hold time and eliminating customers’ dissatisfaction.
4. Make use of self service technologies:
Self service technologies such as the IVR technology helps in improving the efficiency of the customer support system. IVR collects basic customer information, presents answers to common queries such as address, hours of operations, and routes the calls to the right agent, which saves a considerable amount of time. Therefore, you need to make sure that your call center is equipped with an efficient call center software with features such as ACD, intelligent IVR system and skill-based routing. These self service technologies reduce the workload of the agents to a large extent.
1. Arrange weekly meetings:
Arrange regular meetings for knowledge sharing. The basic idea is to discuss and understand the overall experience of your support agents with your clients. Try to understand what obstacles they face while they carry out a live chat with the website visitors, what kind of tricky questions customers may ask and how to resolve their queries. Agents can uncover important techniques of live chat support in this knowledge sharing process. This can aid in improving their overall performance.
2. Club videos with training sessions:
As a matter of fact, humans are visual learners. They tend to learn things more effectively if taught through graphics and videos. You don’t need to spend extra bucks on video tutorials. There are thousands of useful videos available on YouTube which can be utilized for this purpose. This is one of the best customer service training ideas that gives tremendous results.
3. Help them know their actual roles:
Yet another concept of your training should be to help your chat agents understand the actual role they need to play in building customer relationships. Educate them about the lifetime value of a customer as well as the consequences of a bad customer interaction. Let them know how the quality of customer support impacts on sales conversion, customer retention, and brand image. Once the support agents have this basic understanding, they will be more efficient in providing top-notch service.
4. Train them practically:
Practicing something practically helps you learn it better. Team up all of your agents and assign them different chat scenarios. Encourage them to try their best to deal with those given situations. Give them enough time to understand the whole support process, your products/services and most importantly, how to manage the live chat software. These practical sessions are very important to cultivate a capable workforce.