Most organisations invest significant time and money into making sure their telephone calls are answered. But if the caller comes away thinking “That was a waste of time,” why answer the call in the first place? What steps can you take to ensure the caller puts the phone down thinking “That’s taken care of”?
My question above recently sparked a debate on a number of LinkedIn Group Discussions. What quickly became very clear is that one size does not fit all! And the solution is dependent on many factors, not least upon whether your board is prepared to invest (or are interested) in providing a call experience that promotes customer satisfaction, repurchase and advocacy.
Here are some of the areas you may want to consider to get it right. I’m not going to take all the credit for these as
it’s a mixture of my experience and comments from the discussions:
- Where possible, allow agents to take ownership of the caller’s request and the outcome. Call handlers should be part of the solution finding process, rather than simply the speakers of words. This will also promote a culture focused on delivering outcomes that are satisfactory for the customer, rather than obsessing about the content of calls.
- Review your agent training and coaching – are you giving your people the right skills and knowledge to create positive outcomes for YOUR customers, or are you simply repeating an exercise that worked for a different organisation?
- Throw your rigid call scripts away! Instead, create an easily accessible knowledge base that caters for a wide range of customers needs. Allow your agents to contribute to its development by giving them the freedom to share information and change it in line with customer expectations. Of course, you need to ensure that commercial policies and processes are adhered to, but by allowing real conversations to take place, your customers and agents will feel a lot more valued.
- Ensure that your KPI’s, metrics and targets include measuring the call outcome (First Call Resolution, Net Promoter Score, Customer Satisfaction) as well as the operational basics. Most customers will be more concerned about the result of the call than the service provided.
- Reward behaviours that provide consistently resolved outcomes. That means incentivising effectiveness rather than efficiency – think about it.
- I know it’s stating the bleeding obvious but make sure you know what the caller’s desired outcome is at the start of the call. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve clearly stated the nature of my call only to be transferred through numerous IVR options to end up with someone saying “I don’t deal with that…”. Aahh!
- Consider whether the call outcome only solves part of the caller’s problem when in reality it means they have to go elsewhere to find a complete resolve. For example, if your process allows agents to guide callers to where they can find an answer, then great. But if that caller then has to spend 30 minutes struggling through a website to finish the job, are they really going to be satisfied?
- Survey your customers and callers on a scheduled basis. Expectations change, so don’t make the mistake of implementing changes based on assumption.
What are your thoughts?