A while ago I wrote about how “Smart brands have integrated their social media responses team into the customer call centre. It makes sense that you create a single point of contact for customers to contact. Whether on a phone, SMS, Facebook, twitter or other platform the customer chooses, brands are gearing their call centres to handle these requests. This is why call centres are now being called customer contact centres.”

In that article I spoke about brand schizophrenia, today I thought it would be valuable to explore a few ways to improve your call centre. After all most businesses want to ensure that their customers are happy, that they feel they are receiving the best service possible and that they can be supported if  there’s an issue.

Any support request needs to be completed in a timely manner, and effectively. For that reason, when training your support staff, it’s very important to embody the four principles of any solid support call. No matter if you’re on the phone, speaking through emails, direct social media messaging or live chat, the results are the same. Let us approach what this might mean together, to come to some sense of mutual support. Please consider:

Immediacy

There’s nothing that can aggravate a customer more than making them wait hours to have their call answered. However, managing expectations is also an important thing to get right. If someone sends you an email, naturally they will be happy to wait a day or two for you to get back to them. But if someone calls, they expect that call to be answered. The same goes for your live chat, or if you offer a social media direct message potential. Immediacy is a big part of making support work correctly.

For this reason, consider your reach and potential approach. It might be that you haven’t the resources to work an large call centre, then perhaps using answering services could help you mitigate some of that problem. Today businesses use artificial intelligence or scripted bots to deal with customer queries. They are even sounding and feeling more human than ever. Using bots can help deal with high volume queries on social media and differ negative sentiment complaints to a private chat channel rather than your public profile page.

Upholding Standards

It might not seem like something that benefits the consumer, but allowing your support staff their basic right to respect can help them remain more confident and comfortable on the phone. Let’s say a customer calls the company shouting at the support staff. Instead of having your support staff bend over backwards and take this abuse while apologising, grant them the ability to warn the person and then hang up the call. If you accept any treatment from your consumers, you start a worrying precedent that you need to resolve. On top of that, this can lead to a weak corporate image that will only suggest your firm isn’t worth appreciating as it should be. That helps no one.

Flexibility

 If your support staff cannot implement a solution with authority, they have been neutered. They will stick to the boring script over and over again, and this can prevent solutions with some nuance from being resolved. On top of that, it leaves your support staff turning into automatons. Writing a script can be useful, as well as having a crystal clear contact policy. But instead of telling them specific actions, allowing your support staff a degree of authority as to how this issue gets resolved can be worthwhile. For example, it might be that someone wishes to cancel their service. Instead, you give your staff the option to offer a better deal, or a promotional deal to prevent the cancellation. This is much superior to just making the process difficult, asking the client why over and over, and trying to convince them to stay. Remember, what works for your support staff will most likely work for your clients.

The Future

Not all support calls will be successful. Some will be fantastic. What matters is that the future of your support capability is considered. Record calls, inform your callers of this practice, and listen to them. Learn what the common complaints or queries are, and find a measure to have those answered elsewhere, away from your limited call centre needs. Be sure to show good and bad examples to your team and enforce routine training. Always ensure the best answering software is applied. Automate with bots and AI wherever possible. If you can do all of this, you invest in the future of your support – because like any element of business, it is dynamic, never static.