It’s 2016, and gone are the days when traditional outbound marketing efforts were the only way for your company to build a positive brand name and image. In this age of connectivity, with the power in the customer’s hands to publish positive or scathing reviews, copies of email or chat interactions, or recorded phone calls, now more than ever your company must optimize their customer service interactions. The first place to start is in the call center.
The reach of the internet
In times past, a disgruntled customer’s negative experience reached no further than a few friends and family, or at worst, a letter to the editor in the local paper. Now, with the click of a button, the same disgruntled customer could reach millions through twitter, facebook, youtube, and blogs, and if enough attention to their plight is garnered, national news sites could pick up and publish their story. An increasing number of customers are looking to social media platforms to share their negative experiences.
Take a tech editor’s attempt at canceling his cable service in 2014, for example. He recorded the 8 minute conversation, in which the call center representative, a “retention specialist”, is heard desperately trying to convince him not to cancel his service. The tech editor was not getting the service he was requesting, and the call center employee was rude, sarcastic, and relentless. There were over 1,000 news articles published about the incident and a simple google search will get you the original recording in a matter of seconds. The vice president of the company had to issue a public apology. It was a PR nightmare.
Proper treatment of call center employees
There is incalculable power in the hands of your customers when it comes to affecting your company’s reputation. It is hard to say whether the cable company experienced an isolated incident with just this one agent, or whether their agents were undertrained and undercompensated. Adequate compensation, training, and appreciation of call center agents go a long way when it comes to positive customer interactions and an overall positive company image.
Newly hired call center agents typically receive 15 days of initial training. If your training protocol doesn’t quite measure up, consider re-evaluating your training curriculum. Call center agents who are properly trained are effective and efficient employees, and enter the workforce empowered to do their job.
Agent attrition rates are lower when employees are sufficiently trained, when continued training is available to them, and when they are adequately compensated for their skills and efforts. Since your call center staff have the ability to make or break your company’s reputation in a single call, skimping on training and compensation of employees is a huge and costly mistake.
Agent behavior is not the only contributing factor to how call centers affect your company. Your company must have in place an effective operational system for reporting and analytics to avoid any gaps in service quality and efficiency. Regardless of what system you use, if you do not have a system in place affecting company-wide change, your company operations will suffer. It is vital to incorporate a system for implementing changes based on your data and findings. If your contact center’s internal processes are struggling, it will be very difficult to run a smooth and cost-effective operation.
One way to test your internal processes and systems is to “shop” your own company by contacting your call center through several different channels and completing several different service requests. Experience what your customers experience and what your agents experience in completing tasks. Compare your hands on experiences with the data collected through your analytics and reporting and be sure your customers are receiving the quality of service they’ll gushing about on social media.