Let’s face it: The call centre is not exactly the talk of the business world. Every business owner has been a customer at some point and faced a completely unresponsive call centre. Whether it was people on the phone who did not speak the same language as the customer or a system that completely frustrated the ability of the caller to even reach a live person, the notion of the call centre as a helpful, forget essential, part of business has been destroyed.
Even the business owners who realise that their sales have scaled to the point where they need to outsource their customer service do so very hesitantly. Everyone has good intentions from the start; however, sometimes the savings that a company can pocket by outsourcing a call centre to a low quality partner are too great to pass up.
Other companies completely forego the use of call centres, although this move can completely destroy any type of workflow that a small business office has. It is virtually impossible for a growing, successful company to deal with new customers at the same time that it is dealing with old ones. In house staff simply cannot handle it despite their best efforts.
The Call Centre and Your Business
You may be trying to decide whether you will suffer the slings and arrows that are sure to come with a new call centre. Old customers may feel as though they are being slighted. They used to be able to get their salesman on the phone directly; now they have to listen to an automated voice and pick an option. New customers may not even give the business a chance if they come across the call centre too early and the experience is bad.
The Nature of the New Customer
The new customer does not suffer incompetence lightly. There are simply too many choices online that can be accessed at the click of a mouse. If one company does not provide the right experience, a customer often will not even take the time to complain, they can click on the next listing in the search engines and find a completely different experience.
This means that if you are considering a call centre for your business, you must fix the problems from the beginning and be your own worst critic. You will never even be aware of the business that you lose if you choose to run your customer service in the same way as many other companies in your industry do.
The way to circumvent the problems mentioned above while still allowing your company to grow is to provide a call centre experience that is actually good for your customers. There are many ways in which this can be accomplished, and we’re going to talk through some of them now for you.
First, be sure that you know the geographical distribution of your customer base.
This is especially important because you want to make sure that your call centre has people who speak the same language as your most important customers. Certain accents create an instant stigma in the minds of a customer; keep this to a minimum. You can also do business with a call centre that advertises its employees speak a certain language naturally. It is best to test these by calling them yourself a few times before committing your company to them.
Second, make sure that your call centre is structured properly.
Bad links on a call centre phone are just as annoying, if not more annoying, than dead links on a website. If there is a dead link on a site, at least there is a visual cue that can lead a customer to another link. There is no such cue on a telephone. Customers are helpless if the automated portion of your call centre leads into an endless loop or hangs up on a customer for no reason. Organise the structure of your call centre so that this does not happen. Simplicity is the key.
Third, make the call centre as personal as possible.
How much time does it take for you or one of your employees to record a greeting and the vocal for the options in your call centre? Not long at all if you followed the step above and made your automated choices as simple as possible. Keep in mind that your customer may already be agitated. Hearing that same robotic voice that is used as the default for all automated call centres can be the nail in the coffin for your business.
Fourth, make sure that you actually have people on the line to solve problems.
There are certain problems within your company that will come up over and over again. These problems should be handled by an automated system, and eventually fixed by you so that they do not occur at all. For the most part however, people have fairly unique experiences when they take the time to call a customer service line. You need people on the other end with the discretion to make decisions.
One of the best options that you have, as someone who can delegate decisions in your business, is to give your call centre employees the discretion to handle any business decision that is under a certain dollar amount themselves. Of course you should make sure that this dollar amount is not one that will be hurtful to your company. In this way, you can save yourself time, raise the engagement of your employees and satisfy your customers more readily.
Another of the best options for today’s call centre is to start with a live person and direct the customer back to an automated system if the problem happens to fall under a widespread category. The personal connection is made, and the employee does not have to waste time servicing a problem that happens over and over. The employee will be able to note the problem so that management can take a look at the procedures of the business, however. In this way you can use your employees as business analysts for no extra charge.