What first-rate call center customer service looks like

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Call center customer service representative taking a call

In today’s digital world, customer demands are constantly evolving. As a result, support teams need to adapt to ensure their customer service exceeds expectations. In a highly competitive market, providing a first-rate customer service experience isn’t an option, it’s a necessity.

Read on for answers to all of your questions about customer service and some tips to help ensure your service teams are delivering positive customer experiences.

What are the functions of inbound and outbound call center service jobs?

Inbound call centers handle incoming call volumes that tend to come from existing customers with issues or questions about a product or service. Inbound call center services include:

  • Answering inbound calls
  • Order processing
  • Dispatch services
  • Help desk services

On the other hand, outbound call centers make outgoing phone calls to potential and existing customers. Outbound call center services include:

  • Telesales 
  • Telemarketing 
  • Appointment setting
  • Market research

What are contact centers?

In today’s digitized world, businesses need to manage more than just phone lines, which is why they’ve transitioned from having call centers to having contact centers. Contact centers enable customer service reps to provide omnichannel support to customers via email, social media, live chat, VoIP, and more.

What do customer service representatives do?

A call center customer service representative typically has a lot on their plate. They often have to juggle various customer interactions, handle unexpected problems, and manage a handful of different responsibilities.

Agents need to work fast to ensure customer expectations are met and operations run smoothly. 

So what’s in their job description? Some core call center agent duties include:

  1. Help customers across phone-based and digital channels
    These days, agents rarely deal with solely phone-based requests. They likely have to deal with high call volumes and support requests over email, social media, live chat, and SMS messaging. However, certain channels might have dedicated agents to handle requests.

  2. Identify customer needs, research their issues, and meet their expectations
    Agents need to be patient and flexible and maintain a positive attitude when it comes to resolving customer issues. They must answer inbound calls and make outgoing phone calls to address customers’ needs and facilitate a positive CX. 
  3. Tailor each experience
    In order to provide high quality service, agents should tailor their customer support based on the individual at hand. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to customer service, so agents must ensure their communication is personalized and generates satisfied customers.
  4. Respond to tickets efficiently and follow documenting protocols
    Customers demand fast solutions to their problems. A call center representative must work efficiently in order to respond in a timely manner. They must also complete training to understand the company’s call center technology, help desk, CRM, knowledge base, and ticketing system.
  5. Build sustainable relationships and ensure satisfied customers
    Service reps are often the only point of contact that a customer has with a business. Reps must do their best to provide exceptional customer care and improve customer retention. This involves doing their best to solve problems during the first call, and to follow up with customers when this isn’t possible.

What are the three most difficult things about working in a call center?

  1. Employee dissatisfaction
    Customer service agents and sales teams who work full-time often work long 9-hour shifts. They remain sedentary all day, and deal with a stream of unhappy customers or uninterested cold call recipients. They’re required to remain positive while they handle seemingly never-ending important calls, keep track of customer contact information and issues, and try to solve their problems.

    Dealing with customer frustrations and complaints all day can take its toll on an employee’s satisfaction, motivation, and performance. This leads to employee burnout and attrition, which are some of the biggest challenges call centers face. To combat these challenges, call center managers must find creative ways of rewarding staff, facilitating a team environment, and improving call center conditions.

  2. Customer service teams may experience a high turnover
    Call center jobs have a reputation for having high turnover rates. High levels of employee dissatisfaction, a lack of competitive pay and benefits, and poor training can lead to high turnover rates. Constantly having to train new agents can lead to increased operational costs, unstable teams, and difficult change management.

    Addressing these challenges requires businesses to provide agents with better pay and benefit incentives, regular training sessions, and the tools and technologies that enable them to work productively and efficiently.
  3. Low customer satisfaction rates
    Most calls are related to customer queries, unresolved issues, and customer dissatisfaction. Moreover, when customers unwittingly receive cold calls or survey calls with generic interview questions that don’t apply to them, they can quickly become frustrated.

    Customers demand a personalized experience where your business doesn’t treat them as just another customer, but as a human being. This requires agents to know customers’ call history, understand their pain points, and address their needs directly.

    To prevent customer dissatisfaction, service teams should strive to provide customer support that is personalized and efficient. Implementing the right contact center software that features tools like an IVR, call recording, and flexible agent scripts can improve agent performance and lead to enhanced experiences.

What are 3 important qualities of customer service?

The 3 most important qualities of customer service are:

  • Professionalism
  • Patience
  • People-first approach

Let’s take a closer look at each quality and what it means in a customer service agent role.

  1. Professionalism
    This refers to the attitude you have towards your customers. It means staying calm and collected at all times, even if the person on the other end of the phone is upset.

    It’s easy to get defensive with a disgruntled customer over the phone. It can seem like they’re personally attacking you and saying this is your fault, and, unfortunately, sometimes that is exactly what they’re saying.

    In these situations, it’s best to remain professional and diffuse the situation .The ability to stay calm is a key customer service skill. It’s also the best way to reassure the customer that you’re doing your best to help them while representing your brand with a positive attitude.

  2. Patience
    Remember that no two customers are the same; each one presents their own set of needs, challenges, and expectations. Different customers will respond to customer service practices differently, and it can take different lengths of time for them to understand how to resolve an issue or get the experience they’re looking for. For this reason, patience really is a virtue when it comes to providing the best service.

    Additionally, representatives need to be flexible and willing to adapt to each customer’s needs and expectations. Allow your customers to move at their own pace, and don’t become frustrated when they get confused or upset. They’ll appreciate your flexibility, and feel more fulfilled when a resolution is reached.
  3. People-first attitude
    A people-first attitude reinforces the idea of human connection. It means being empathetic towards customers and remembering that they’re human, too. Even if you think a customer is overreacting, it’s important to empathize with them and make them feel heard.

    To foster long-term relationships, service teams need to find ways of personalizing and connecting with customers along their journey. Always remember that the relationship you create through your interaction with the customer is more important than any business transaction.

5 key skills for a call center representative

Apart from being professional, patient, and putting people first, there are some other skills and qualities customer service reps should have. These include:

  1. Excellent communication skills: Agents should be able to communicate clearly with customers, and establish a rapport with managers and other agents in their team.
  2. Knowledge retention and recall: Customers don’t want to repeat themselves, and they shouldn’t have to. Agents need to be able to interpret and understand customer problems the first time they hear them.
  3. Creative problem solving: Sometimes the solution to a customer’s problem isn’t clear or achievable. In this case, agents need to think of creative alternative solutions that keep the customer happy. 
  4. Organizational skills: Agents need to handle, record, and follow up on numerous customer service calls every day. This requires them to be organized and have good time management skills.
  5. Flexibility: Customer service tasks are often unpredictable. Agents need to be flexible and able to adapt to unexpected solutions and diverse customers.

How can I be a good call center agent?

Being good at a customer service job doesn’t come naturally to everyone. However, there are some best practices you can follow to enhance your performance.

  1. Learn from bad customer experiences
    Bad experiences happen to everyone. What can differentiate you is how you react to them. Agents should try to see their bad experiences as a learning opportunity.

    If you’ve just dealt with an upset customer who ended up acting immaturely during the conversation, remain calm and continue to work through the customer’s problem until it is resolved. Look at the real reasons why the customer was unhappy, and focus on finding a way to a solution that can also prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.

    Feeding back on these issues and your reflections on them can provide useful insight for service team managers and company stakeholders who might not have the time to spot these flaws themselves. For instance, if a customer complains that you don’t have an item in stock (and it’s a recurring theme), it could be an opportunity to re-evaluate your stocking process.

  2. Listen to the customer
    Listening to the customer and showing interest and concern in what they’re saying is a crucial part of providing excellent service. Make sure you pay attention to their every word, even if they’re expressing frustration or disappointment with your company or service.

    Clarify information by paraphrasing customers’ questions back to them, to make sure you fully understand what they’re saying before progressing to the next step. This prevents further frustrations or inadequate resolutions from being presented to them. Practicing careful listening is a crucial step in the customer service journey, and can save time and improve customer satisfaction in the long run. 

  3. Stay positive
    Remember that customers call you to find resolutions to their problems and to be reassured that you can help them. It’s crucial that you remain positive and don’t frustrate your customers even more by telling them that their problem is unfixable. Stay positive, even if a situation will require extensive help from outside your area of expertise.

    Speak in affirmations and use positive statements. Tell the customer that you understand their feelings and you’ll do your best to help or put them in contact with someone who can. This makes the customer feel cared about, which is likely to reflect on you in their company feedback.

How to improve call center customer service

When it comes to customer service, there’s always room for improvement. The customer service manager needs to regularly re-evaluate customer service call center strategies and adapt them towards shifts in consumer demands, customer support trends, and new technologies. 

Delivering positive experiences leads to loyal customers who are more likely to make repeat purchases or become brand ambassadors. In this way, great customer service also leads to increased sales and higher retention rates. With this in mind, service teams must see every touchpoint that connects them with customers as an opportunity to delight and impress.

Call center customer service tips

1. Streamline the support process for customers

Customers expect great service. They also don’t expect it to be difficult for them to receive that great service, which is why it’s important to make support offerings quick and easy. Reducing customer effort increases sales and boosts customer engagement. Here are some tips to reduce customer effort:

  • Offer to call the customer back in case the call is disconnected
  • Understand their requests and questions clearly so they don’t have to repeat themselves
  • Provide them with self-service materials for future interactions
  • Resolve their issues the first time and save the customer’s time
2. Provide quality training

Delivering quality training to your support teams is crucial to ensuring they’re meeting customers’ expectations. Ensure that each team member is onboarded properly and undergo regular training sessions for quality assurance.

Managers can use quality management and make training more interesting and accessible by taking a multi-dimensional approach and using online multimedia training for technical and emotional interactions. 

If you decide that call center outsourcing is the way to go, be sure that the service provider ensures rigorous and ongoing training for agents. As well, it’s important to consider whether the service is located domestically or internationally. Domestic customer service centers might offer more complete services (eg. lead generation), but they might come at a higher price point.

3. Empower agents with the right tools

If you want to leverage the full potential of agents, you’ll need to empower your support teams with the right tools. Most software solutions feature a range of tools designed to improve the customer and agent experience. 

Unified desktop software, artificial intelligence and automation, and agent scripts are just some of the tools that can improve agent productivity and efficiency by streamlining operations. Providing support teams with tools that promote cross-team collaboration and streamline operations enables them to deliver personalized service experiences and build relationships that last.

An all-in-one contact center solution means agents don’t have to navigate cumbersome tools or various siloed systems, and can instead focus their attention on what matters the most: how to improve the customer experience.

4. Collect customer feedback

Customers can help you to improve. Be transparent and open up a dialog with your customers. Ask for and listen to their feedback, and use it to improve your support strategies. Loyal customers will appreciate you taking the time to ask for their feedback and opinions. 

You can send post-interaction surveys to ask customers how their support experience went, and what can be done to improve the next one.

5. Choose the right call center software for your business

When it comes to choosing the right call center software for your business, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind:

  • Type of software: Consider whether you want an on-site software solution or a cloud-based one. 
  • Business tools integrations: Your software solution should integrate with your current helpdesk, CRM, marketing platform, etc. 
  • Features: Common features include predictive dialers, ACD, IVR, routing, real-time reporting, call recording and monitoring, etc. Choose the features that your business and agents need to provide seamless customer service. 
  • Flexibility and scalability: The solution you choose should be flexible to enable teams to work from home or anywhere in the world. What’s more, it should scale with your business as it grows.

Most jobs have their ups and downs. However, armed with the right tools, skills, and attitude call center reps can delight customers with exceptional experiences every time. 

Customer service strategies need to be consistently revisited and revaluated using data-driven insights, employee performances, and customer feedback. This enables businesses to stay on top of customer demands, meet their expectations, and build long-lasting relationships that drive business growth.

Want to deliver first-rate call center customer service to your customers? Click on the View Demo button to find out how RingCentral can help you.