Here is a round up of some of the best call centre hints and tips that have been sent in by our readers.
Please add your own tips at the bottom of the page.
Use positive words and Phrases
Positive phrases add life to the advisors tone at all times, but advisors mostly forget to use them.
Not that they are not aware, but its just that they forget to use them. The simplest way is to put the “Top Reassuring phrases” on every advisors soft boards, for their ease and for them to add value to the interaction.
Pinaz Hansotia, Business Unit Head and Relationship Manager, Seamless Connections
Click here to see the Top 25 positive words & phrases
Change is a fantastic thing if introduced correctly.
At all stages a forum of team members (not team leaders all the time ) should be consulted and given the opportunity to voice their valuable input before any decisions are made. All members of the teams should be given the chance to attend these meetings on a rotational basis (not favourites all the time), they should have the opportunity to refer to their team members and attend a further forum to discuss the teams views.
Avoiding the opinionated is a massive mistake to avoid confrontation. This way the workforce have the ownership in agreeing with management on the best way forward and everyone has had input. “A Successful All Round Solution”.
Sherie Beazley, Accredited Trainer, TSC Aviemore
Encourage teams to improve their customer services skills
As a telephony coach to encourage teams to improve their customer services skills, each team has a customer service super stars board with their names displayed in the team.
Team members have to achieve 90% and above constantly on 3 telephone audits (not as easy as they think)! Each audit over 90% receives a star and once they have 3 they are rewarded in their team meetings with gift certificate etc.
Doing this has made everyone more aware of their customer service skills on the telephone and has encouraged friendly competition amongst the team members.
– Chelsea Purvis, Telephony Coach, Southend Commercial Property Claims
Answer e-mails from junior people before more senior ones.
Junior people have further to go and tend to remember who slighted them.
– Keith Stagg, Secretary, CCMA (UK)
Find the right stimulant for each agent
From working in a target driven environment, I’ve found that you are forced to develop and change as necessary at an instant to stay on top of the game.
One major factor to this to develop sales is as small as managing each member of your team in a slightly different way. To maximise sales potential find out how your agents tick, if they respond to praise, praise them. If they respond to criticism, criticise them, if they flourish under pressure, pressurise them etc… Like every sale, every agent is different and will respond in different ways to different stimuli. Find the right stimulant for each agent and you will only succeed. Sales is a constantly moving environment, if you don’t stimulate the potential of your agents in the right way all of the time all you will find is that there heads will drop, or they get lazy. You need to be proactive rather then reactive to succeed.
– Nathan Winstanley, Compliance Manager, ClearAnswer Call Centres
Don’t follow the script – build rapport
I encourage my staff to build rapport with callers, rather than following a script.
Instead of just simply entering details into the computer we use the opportunity to make the call into a conversation.
For example a caller may look for a quote for travel insurance. We would normally ask “Where are you travelling to?”
Rather than simply plugging the details into the computer we encourage our agents to build rapport with caller and something like “I bet that it would be lovely at this time of year” or “I’ve heard that it’s a great place to go to”. The caller has a bit of a chance to build the conversation.
Talk times have not increased very much but our conversion rates have improved.
– Amy Rose, Call Centre Manager at CPLTD
As a coach for BT I always encourage my teams to smile when they are on a call.
Always treat your Customer as if they were the first Customer of the day, no matter what time it is or how tired you are, smile while you talk.
This in itself can take the heat out of most situations, brings an immense amount of positive feedback – and actually costs nothing.
I encourage this with positive enforcement and always praise my team for doing it. We have seen vast improvements in Advisors attitudes toward Customers and also toward one another
You can actually hear the change in an advisors voice when they smile and it also helps when dealing with a complaint.
It makes for a much nicer experience overall and EDCSM (event driven customer satisfaction measures) results have proved that it really works.
– Deb Evans, BT Coach, Newport (South Wales)
Great people are at the heart of every good call centre, but effective processes are the real brains of the operation.
Having fantastic people is only half the battle; making sure they can satisfy every customer’s enquiry by having the right information at the right time and in the right place is the only way to achieve real customer service.
– Paul White, chief executive officer at the outsourcer Message Pad
Outsourcing telemarketing is not a quick fix solution.
Understand that telemarketing is an ongoing process which requires time and patience. Don’t expect massive returns in short spaces of time.
It may sound obvious, but here’s something that many contact centres often overlook when hiring new staff. A candidate may come across extremely well in a face-to-face briefing, but it is also vital to carry out a ‘telephone interview’ too.
– Dino Forte, director at Converso Contact Centres
You don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel.
Most problems have been experienced by other team leaders, call centre managers and trainers, and they will have tried to solve them in different ways with varying success. Tapping in to this knowledge will save you a lot of time and heartache.
There are lots of ways to get the answers. You need to read the trade magazines and, of course, Call Centre Helper. But also take every possible opportunity to meet people from other call centres and visit their sites.
This can be done through industry organisations such as the CCA, CCMA and PPF, but also just through chatting to people sitting near to you at conference sessions at Call Centre Expo. You can also use technology user groups or get your suppliers to make the necessary introductions. Finally, there are a surprising number of blogs and forums, such as Call Centre Voice, where operational questions can be posed and technical forums such as Tek-tips for the infuriating switch configurations.
– Paul Miller, contact centre director at Prolog Connect
Quality is key.
As soon as quality is gone, productivity diminishes and once-achievable goals become far from close.
Quality monitoring and score marking is imperative. Keep on top of it and you have an easy job, people perform and your customers remain happy. Let it slip and productivity will go down and you risk losing customers.
– Nathan Winstanley, floor manager at Clearanswer Call Centres
I have discovered that the word I use the most in a day is ‘hello’.
People do not take long enough to ponder the value and potential of this simple word, especially in the work environment. Some senior and middle management feel that they are above this word. They spend hours looking for motivational games when a simple ‘hello’ would kick-start the day and make the employee more receptive to suggestions.
Ignoring a colleague or not responding to their ‘hello’ is one of the most demotivational factors in their working day. The worry and fret that this causes – due to the fact they feel they may have done something wrong, or that they spend their day telling others about the rudeness they have received – does not contribute towards reducing absenteeism, attrition and creating motivation.
If you are one of those who work in a call centre environment and cannot say ‘hello’ is the word you use most in a day, please sit back and ask yourself why. ‘Hello’ instils value and motivation in to anyone’s day.
– Sherie Beazley, learning and development trainer at the outsourcer TSC
Other top tips from call centre professionals:
Work to get staff buy in to the process
Accept the fact that no-one really wants to be a call centre agent. A mutual understanding that this is not their first choice career will produce agents that respect your choice as a manager to further yourself in this profession while acknowledging that, while they will always do their absolute best for you, they are not looking at this as a career. This will produce much better results than trying to force industry wide taught motivational skills down their throats.
When setting tasks, objectives or targets for staff or implementing change, always hold workshops and, wherever possible, work to get staff buy in to the process. If staff feel at the very least their voice has been heard then they are more inclined to accept the change rather than resist what they would normally see as Managers enforcing working practices upon them.
– Dean Hurst, operations director at RSVP
Quality over quantity
Prioritise quality over quantity in generating leads, and ensure that efforts are not being wasted. A simple re-evaluation of procedures and the introduction of third party tracking will result in significant advances and better efficiency within the sales department, and fewer, if any, leads being lost in processes.
– Anna Leahey
Avoid ‘feature spraying’
Understand the needs of the customer and match the benefits of your service to those needs rather than ‘feature spraying’ and hoping some of it has some relevance to the customer.
– Jamie Vaughan, md at V2 Communications
Turn off answer machine detection (AMD)
“Although there is a widespread belief that by running outbound campaigns using answer machine detection (AMD) functionality you will improve overall productivity, ask yourself: what are the REAL results? Yes, on paper it may increase the number of potential conversations with existing or potential customers, but is it necessarily going to lead to a higher conversion or retention rate?
– Stephen Jacobs, general manager at DirectExcellence
Our recent experience with contact centres that have decided to turn off AMD has actually shown an overall increase in new customers and brand loyalty. Why not trial it for yourselves, work with a few outbound campaigns without AMD and compare the difference? You may just find that you need to re-assess the metrics that are used for measuring success.
It’s no longer about the number of connects made, but how many calls leave the customer with a positive experience. Eliminating the exasperating delays caused by AMD could be the first step to focusing on the quality not the quantity of calls.”
Catherine Pearce, client services manager at Amcat
your views are really outstanding.
When training an Agent for inbound Hotel reservations and we have to direct the caller back to the Hotel for a specific reason. Always make sure you let that guest know that the Hotel looks after their requests because they are special and they like to handle the special rates or special requests personally. This way the guest does not feel like they are being put back and forth and the ‘call center’ does not know what they are doing. Making that guest feel special is always important and always do it with a smile they can hear.
The voice tonality of the agent should be an emblem of the centre.
For me it is not just the advisor following a process but also truly getting and understanding what the customer’s requirements are. It is not about being robots but employing people with personalities who can and are giving the freedom to think for themselves