What, according to you, forms the foundation for a strong customer – company relationship? This rather simple question deserves an equally straightforward answer. As it turns out, and as most of you know already, customer care helps build a harmonious relationship between the two parties in question here. Now, the question remains, what exactly does customer care entail? Does it simply entail using the best cloud contact center software? Or is it simply about the kind of people you have working for you?
Well, truth be told, the secret lies in creating a perfect blend of the two. You see, resources and the people handling it are like two sides of the same coin. One would be incomplete without the other. Since we have already discussed in detail about cloud calling solutions and what it can do for your business, now would be the time to get back to the very basics – to the humane aspect of customer care.
Customer care would be incomplete without customer service reps or agents to take care of it. At the end of the day, your customers don’t really care about whether you’re using the best possible software or if you’ve upgraded your software. However, they do care about who’s on the other end of the line and how they are behaving with them.
When your customers disconnect the call, this is the kind of impression they leave with. Yes, we know that agents too are human beings and that heat of the moment can be a crazy thing. Yet, you still have to keep in mind a few things. No matter what customers say or do, you really aren’t allowed to fly off the handle or retort back to the customer.
Similarly, in the business of cloud call center, there are certain phrases and terms that are like the forbidden fruit and must be avoided like the plague. These phrases, while they seem pretty commonplace and ordinary, are like ticking time bombs in the call center business. They might set off your customer or put them off further. And as we all know, furious customers can end up harming your business.
So here goes – here is a list of about 20 phrases and tactics that you must avoid while dealing with customer care:
1. You are our top priority– Well, your customers know this is a fib and although they wouldn’t call you out on it, you can expect them to smirk a little at least. Your customers know that you have a huge customer base and that you receive at least a thousand calls each day. They also know that you probably repeat the same phrase to every customer that calls. Replace it with anything – something like “We’re looking into it” will do as well.
2. Hold for a little while – Your customers hate this. We can bet on it. Look, your customers are calling you up because they have encountered a problem. They’re not calling you up to have a chat, are they? That probably means they’re in a hurry as well. So making them wait or hold the call would be improper. It might so happen that all your agents are busy tending to calls. In such a situation, you should ask the customer what they would prefer more – holding the call or waiting for a call back.
3. It is our policy – There is nothing more customers hate than this phrase. Oh please, aren’t customers supposed to be your first priority? Then you should be able to bend the rules and tweak the policy if your customers demand it! The first rule of your policy is to satisfy the needs of your customer, and you know it all too well. This phrase shows that you are completely insensitive to the issues of the customer and you simply don’t care about them. It makes the customers feel that they are speaking to a wall.
4. It’s not in my hands – If it isn’t in your hands, then whose is it? You have been entrusted to handle your customers and it is expected that you would have all answers ready irrespective of what the customer throws at you. By saying this, you reveal yourself to be incompetent and incapable of dealing with customers. It also makes the customer feel that you don’t care enough and that you’re not true to your word (remember those slogans of 100% customer care? Yes, we’re referring to that)
5. Why don’t you visit your website? – Look, your customers aren’t complete ignoramuses. They know you have a website and obviously that’s the first thing they do when they encounter a problem. Calling up customer care isn’t too pleasant for them either. As it turns out, they didn’t get their answer from your website or failed to access it. Unable to do anything else, they called you up. So asking them to visit your website shows you aren’t interested and is a tad bit redundant.
6. It’s the manufacturer’s fault – When customers are buying your product, they aren’t checking the name of the manufacturer. They’re looking at YOUR brand name and trusting YOU to live up to their expectations. If there’s a defect in your product, it is your responsibility to fix it, not the manufacturer’s. If there’s some problem with your cloud calling software, who would you call? The manufacturer or the vendor? The latter of course. The same goes for your customer.
7. I do not know – While operating cloud call center solutions, this is the worst possible thing you could say to a customer . You’re the agent, you represent the company. You are thus expected to know it all. That is your one job, and you must strive to do it well. Imagine a customer’s frustration when they call you up in a moment of panic and are looking for help and you greet them with an “I don’t know”.
8. This isn’t my department – When customers call you up, they do not really care about departments and neither should you. When you’re working as a call center rep, you do not really belong to any department. You need to have a thorough knowledge of all aspects of the business. You need to know the nitty-gritty of your cloud based call center solutions, little details about the product and so on. This is the least your customers expect of you and it is your duty to live up to them.
9. May I transfer your call? – Your customer calls you up with a sever issue plaguing them. They hold for a while as you free yourself to speak to them. You listen to them ramble on about their problem. Next, you tell them you don’t have a solution and ask them if you could transfer their call to a superior or to another department? Imagine their fury. Your customers are not going to wait around as you pass them around from person to person.
10. You made a mistake – If you don’t want your customers to fly off the handle, do not tell them where they went wrong. Yes, probably the customer landed himself in a pickle and are to blame for the issue. But that’s not what they want to hear when they call you up. They would like to hear the solution and would like you to be a little empathetic to their problem. No one wants to be told “you made a mistake”. You don’t either. So don’t expect your customers to be too kind when you say this to them.
11. Could you please repeat? – You may very well expect your customers to hang up the moment they hear this. They rant about their problem for five minutes and you actually have the audacity to ask them to repeat it all over again? It is quite outrageous and unacceptable to say the least. Part of being a rep in a call center cloud solutions company is being a good listener. This is a skill that can be acquired and you need to start working on it from the very beginning.
12. We apologize – Now you might think that that’s a polite way of speaking to your customer; but if there’s one universal fact in the world, it is this – most people aren’t really sorry when they apologize. Your customers wouldn’t look too kindly on this either and might even end up being all the more infuriated. Instead of saying sorry, start working on the solution as soon as possible. That would be the best way of making up for your mistakes.
13. We’ll call you back – Even customers know that that almost never happens. You might tell them you’re going to call them back and your customers might even trust you in good faith. Eventually, you never get around to it.
14. We appreciate your feedback – An auto generated response saying “thank you for the feedback” is pretty annoying to say the least. Your customers are providing you with feedback for a reason. They want you to keep up the good work or pull up your socks. Show them that you care and that you’re looking into it.
15. You weren’t speaking to me right now – Even if such a situation arises, do not let your customers find out! Modern cloud contact center software allows you to have the caller’s information at your fingertips. Why not simply glance through it once before you speak to your customers?
16. You can do that yourself – There is nothing more people hate than depending on someone else on the other end of the line to help them out. Telling them they could just do it themselves is not only rude but also insensitive. If your customers could indeed do it themselves, do you think they would’ve called you up?
17. We will look into it – This seems like a perfectly harmless (even helpful) phrase to you, doesn’t it? However, there’s a problem with pronouns here. The moment you use “we”, it creates an image of an invisible force working on it in the minds of the customer – and they aren’t sure if they can trust it. Instead, use “I”…that always helps.
18. That’s not my fault – No one’s blaming you here. But YOU are representing the company here. If there is a problem with the product your company sells, then your company is at fault. And as part of the company, it is your responsibility to accept the fact and deal with it in a humble and courteous manner. Don’t wash your hands off the matter.
19. Interruption – When your customers are speaking to you, the worst thing you can do is cut them off in the middle and interrupt them. You’ll get your chance to justify your point and defend yourself. Let your customer finish. Once that’s done, your customer is in a better position to hear and process what you have to say.
20. We can’t help you – So your customer goes on and on about their problem and you hit them back with a “we can’t help you”. How would you feel if something similar happened to you? It might happen that you do not have answers to the customer’s questions. However, it is your duty to ensure that you do whatever it takes to help them out or come to their rescue.
The case study
We have already stressed on the importance of good behaviour and excellent communication skills when it comes to call centers. After all, the agent is expected to be on his best behaviour at all times. You see, we aren’t speaking without evidence. We’ve seen companies rise to the top and we know what drives them. Abaseguros is an insurance company based in Mexico.
In Mexico, most people purchase insurance through brokers and consequently, this company has a wide customer base of at least 480,000 customers. When it comes to matters of insurance, customers tend to have a lot of questions. Let’s face it, it is always better to be safe rather than sorry. Now as a result, the company receives a huge number of calls and tends to a large number of customers each day.
The problem and the solution
Given its wide customer base, the company paid a great deal of attention to its human resource. It was imperative for the reps (who deal with customers directly) to work on their communication skills and pick up on cues that can help with customer needs (which aren’t always all that obvious). Simply having the right answers to the problems of customers wouldn’t suffice – agents need to be able to demonstrate a genuine interest in solving the problem.
Eventually, Abaseguros came up with a new solution that enables them to record all calls and screen them. Also, the customer care reps are evaluated at regular intervals as well. The feedback and evaluation scores are taken into account while assessing their progress. This has led to an increase in customer satisfaction levels and has also reaffirmed the loyalty of their customers.
You see, the loyalty of customers is what will carry you to the top. With customer satisfaction and loyalty backing you, what more could you ask for? Memorize these phases, so that the next time you speak to a customer, you can steer clear of them.