Before reading this section you should write down 5 things that make you feel, as a customer, that you have been on a good call!
If you are either part of a call centre or your organisation has one, then the next time you call, think about whether these are true for the call you have just experienced!
Good call experiences
- I wasn’t kept waiting
- The agent was very competent and knew their stuff!
- I was listened to without any interruptions!
- Agent was pleased to talk to me and seemed genuinely keen to help!
- Agent used clear tone and understandable language – no jargon
- My request was completed when they said it would be – no need to call back.
A telephone call to a call centre is different from one you may make or take from a friend or family member. The call should be much more structured, so that it is handled as efficiently as it can be. If you break down a typical call, then you will see a series of steps. Agents will be trained on how to be the most effective in each of these steps and to provide the required company response. It is not always easy, as the question or content may change.
- Call Opening – the opening of the call is crucial as this often sets the scene for the whole call. The initial greeting is the Company brand, so it should be consistent across all Agents and give the Company identity and voice! As an Agent you will be expected to give this company greeting
- Identification – who is your customer (legal and company requirements)
- Customer requirements – why are they calling and what do they want you to do!
- Clarification – ensure the Agent knows fully what it is the customer needs, as this may not always be clear!
- Action/respond – completion of the request or provision of information or explanation as to why not able to!
- Summarise steps or actions that will be taken so the customer is clear on what the Agent will do!
- Offer – anything else where assistance can be provided!
- Close – very important – thank the customer for calling and say Good bye!
In most centres, Agents will be trained on the most commonly asked customer questions. By ensuring an Agent knows the answer to and how to process the information on the computer as efficiently as they can, will ensure that the call duration is the best it can be. However, what is as critical to an organisation is that the Agent does what they promise to do that is in line with company policy and meets the needs of the customer. This is the effectiveness of the call. By promising to do something that they are not able to do or to give a discount that the customer is not eligible for, just to complete a call, will not be acceptable to the company and will also lead to unsatisfied customers.
The Best Call Openings
Beyond saying hello, there are some key elements that should be included in the beginning of every customer conversation to get things off to the best possible start – as efficiently as possible.
Make It Clear Who You Are and Where You Work
“Hello, how can I help you?” is a fairly standard opening line in a contact centre, but are all of your agents introducing the business too? To remove any chance of confusion, agents should always introduce themselves AND the business as soon as possible.
To remove any chance of confusion, agents should always introduce themselves AND the business as soon as possible.
For example, “Call Centre Helper, you’re speaking to Robyn. How can I help you?” offers far more clarity earlier on than a simple “Hello, how can I help?”
This is particularly pertinent for outbound calls, as asking straightaway to speak to Mr Jones can also be a bit of a faux pas. Whoever has picked up the phone needs to know who they are speaking to first. The agent could also risk putting the customer on the defensive not knowing who they are speaking to – and getting the call off to a very bad start.
For more information on call openings – we have a useful article that looks at the best call openings and closings
Many thanks to Paul Weald for providing this information.