Customer service today is an essential part of any company.
Quality of service provided is a direct factor contributing to sales and overall profitability of the organisation.
Therefore, companies are investing more and more to better their customer service, be it in terms of bringing in the right call center software, hiring the best agents for the job, creating compartmentalized departments to deal with specifics, charting innovative marketing strategies, etc.
Call center solutions have evolved from answering the phone to comprehensively managing every aspect of operations, from product scenarios to market research, customer relationship management and data analysis.
With this transformation, the role of the modern call center agent has evolved as well.
In this article, we bring you some of the most common problems that modern call center agents face on a day to day basis, and discuss the most effective solutions they can apply to increase their productivity, make best use of resources and provide better quality of service.
Some of the most common operational problems that agents face are discussed below.
1. Customers sometimes express interest in a product or service, only to later opt out of buying it.
Agents spend their time and resources in conversation with those who show interest, hoping to convert the lead to a sale. When the sale falls through, it not only reflects on the agent’s KPIs, but also represents a waste of resource for the company.
2. There are times when customers catch agents off guard, and ask them questions that they do not know the answers to. Although agents must study the product extensively, there is the possibility of buyers asking them something out of their depth, or something they cannot recall at the given moment.
3. Agents are often buried in a queue of waiting calls, especially during peak business hours.
This means that an individual customer has stayed on the line for an inordinate amount of time before he could even get through to a customer service executive.
Very often, clients become frustrated when they are kept waiting. However, the agents are only human and it becomes impossible for them to go through calls at the same rate as they keep coming in.
4. Sometimes, agents need to transfer calls to a different department to provide the information that customers want. However, there is nothing a customer seems to hate more than hearing the automated voice asking them to hold the line while they are transferred.
This conundrum means the agent that now picks up the call has to deal with a less than amiable customer on the other end of the line.
5. Agents take a while to get used to new technology.
But with the environment as dynamic as it is, there is a new piece of tech rolling in every other week.
Adapting to the latest technology is always a challenge, and agents have to figure out not just how it works, but how it works best, so that they can increase their productivity.
6. Acting as a representative of the brand necessitates that agents operate within certain constraints.
This means that even if an agent has had a very long day, dealt with unfriendly customers and is five minutes away from clocking out, he has to deal with the last call of the day with just as much positivity as he did on his first.
This is challenging on both personal and professional fronts for the agent.
7. Understanding customers can be a problem in and of itself.
While some customers are expressive and easy to read, some others are reserved, making it difficult to gauge what their viewpoint is. Moreover, customers could be skeptic about the product you are trying to sell, making your job of convincing them that much more difficult.
8. In dealing with a crisis, agents are often left to make decisions on their own.
This could be regarding a shipment not being traced, quality issues being reported by a customer, technicalities that were not sufficiently explained, etc.
In these situations the agent is expected to pacify the customer, but no clear guideline is given on how to go about it.
9. Meeting, and then subsequently exceeding, customer expectations is the goal of every organization.
Companies ask agents to set realistic targets for their customers.
Now, the agents then have to take on the challenge of not just convincing the customer that the target is beneficial, but also of exceeding it to provide valuable service, hoping that the customer remains loyal because you exceeded expectation in your previous interactions.
10. Talking to angry customers is a problem every agent faces, almost every day of their working lives.
Angry customers are often unwilling to see rationality, listen to the agents or have their viewpoints questioned. Tackling them requires skill and patience, and can take a toll on the agent’s job satisfaction.
Some of the solutions that can be implemented at the workplace to help agents perform better and raise the level of customer service are as follows.
1. The best way to ensure more and more leads convert to actual sales is by following up regularly.
Stay in touch with everyone who shows interest, communicate your value proposition and convince them to buy.
Constant communication also helps build a rapport with the client, which contributes to better sales.
2. If an agent does not know the answer to a query, he should either bring an expert on to the conversation or ensure that he calls back at the earliest with the relevant information.
Simply saying “I don’t know” creates a very negative impression and hurts the image of the brand.
3. To avoid getting buried in peak traffic, agents should use callbacks and self-service options effectively.
Having simple FAQ pages, tutorials and DIY instructions helps reduce volume to a great extent. This allows agents to focus on the genuine queries better and come back to the ones which would require significant time after the peak hours are done and dusted.
4. Be personalized and specific when you transfer a customer’s call.
Make sure they understand it is only being done because you want to serve them better, and that it is in their best interests to wait a short while to get the best answer.
Using positive phrases and words has a distinct effect on how the customer perceives you and your brand.
5. Managers should introduce training courses that help to familiarize agents with new technology, so that they can harness its full potential quickly and efficiently, and use it to raise the levels of productivity in the workplace, and stay ahead of their competitors in the modern market.
6. Agents should be given a certain amount of autonomy to take decisions on their own, but also be told about the responsibility that comes with it.
In this way, they will embrace the position they hold as a spokesman of the brand, and ensure their actions do not hurt its image.
7. Agents should give themselves some time in the beginning of the conversation to gauge what the customer is thinking. Attentive listening is a skill that not only helps you understand the customer, but subsequently allows you to connect with him better.
8. There should be a clear plan of action in place to deal with any crisis situation, so that agents may refer to it when they have a guide, a customer through a difficult situation.
This also ensure uniformity in dealing with such a scenario, which is important because you want to treat all customers equally and give them all your best solutions.
9. Doing extensive research and analysing data will help agents guide customers more effectively regarding the targets that should be set.
Once that is done, agents can put their best foot forward in trying to provide service that exceeds their expectations, earning themselves trust and loyalty in the process.
10. While dealing with angry customers, agents have to ensure that they do not insinuate blame when defending their own actions.
They need to remain polite and respectful, and ensure better service in the future.
Customers generally calm down after an initial flash of anger, so patiently dealing with them is the key.
11. Collecting customer feedback is a great way to know what you are doing wrong, and how you can improve on it in the future.
This could reduce most of the customer-related problems that agents face in the long run by tuning services to reflect the wishes of the majority of previous customers.
12. Agents require training in areas such as impactful communication, phone etiquette and marketing strategies.
Without the proper knowledge and resources, they tend to face roadblocks they cannot recover from – harming the company’s prospects in the process.
13. Personalization of information is a very powerful tool in modern day customer service.
Agents should be encouraged to study the customer and design the conversation in a manner that suits them best, to make maximum impact and reduce the chances of any antagonistic approach, frustration or complaint.
14. Clarity of communication is the one and only solution to problems such as misunderstanding between the agent and the customer, vagueness of instructions and incomprehensible jargons.
Being able to communicate fluently and effectively is an essential prerequisite for an agent.
15. The ability to manage time properly, while still ensuring the quality of interactions does not drop, is a great skill to have for a call center agent.
Unsatisfied customers is a company’s biggest problem, so serving more and serving better is the goal of the organization and the agents.
16. Staying cool under pressure can solve a lot of problems for agents.
Often, the job gets stressful and most people crack under the pressure.
The ones who can keep their head in trying situations turn out to be assets for their companies and find success in their job.
17. Team players are necessary for the organisation to move forward.
Agents need to prioritize the goals of the team over their own personal goals.
Agents who are willing to play along with the group are the ones who make the difference in the market.
18. No matter how much you study about it, as an agent, you are bound to have some surprises coming your way.
These unexpected situations require you to think on your feet and present a logical decision. Dealing with the unexpected goes a long way in shaping you as a leader.
19. Almost every problem in the world can be overcome if you are willing to learn.
For an agent, this is a key trait as he has to deal with something new every other day, so his willingness to learn from a particular situation determines how effective he is likely to be in a forthcoming situation.
20. Disgruntled customers, wayward supply chains, sketchy marketing and even derelict bosses can be overcomed by improving on your empathy.
Understanding situations from others’ point of view allows you to navigate solutions you did not even know were there. This is a very powerful tool that steers any situation towards a better outcome.
Thus, we have an overview of some of the challenges customer service executives find themselves in a while trying to provide telemarketing software solutions, and some of the strategies that should be implemented to deal with those challenges and foster a culture of shared goals and heightened productivity.
A call center is a very dynamic atmosphere, so bringing in solutions requires active communication, sufficient use of call center software solutions, positive plans of action, group brainstorming and monitoring performance indicators to take data-driven decisions.
With the right personnel in place, a smart investment in the best call center software to aid their work, a clear plan of action and managers who are involved in monitoring the work of their employees and providing constructive feedback, your company can soar head and shoulders ahead of your competition.
The tips mentioned here will surely help you integrate that winning culture in your teams and give you a jump-start towards success.