We live in a consumer-oriented world. Millions of products are sold each second of the day, every day. Statistics showed in 2019 that Amazon had 150.6 million mobile users. Even if 10% of these people purchased products from Amazon that is still over 10 million users. On the other side of the screen are the people who actually take care of the consumer, aka the customer service people. What does good customer service mean to you? Today I want to share with you 20 customer service tips for call centers.
20 Essential customer service tips
I have worked as a customer service agent for multi-global companies for the past 6 years. I can say that I have seen it all at this point and I want to share worldclass customer service tips to help organizations in delivering the best service possible. Although there are many excellent examples of good customer service, sadly, most companies don’t follow half of them. Even the best customer service companies can learn how to offer even better services.
Whether you’re a startup looking for tips on how to deliver excellence to your customers, or even a multi-million dollar company trying to improve by listening to your customer’s feedback and complaints, these tips are for everyone. What does good customer service look like? There is no right or wrong answer, the key is to do your best and always leave room for improvement. Let’s see the 20 customer service tips for call centers.
1. Happy employees, happy customers
Have you worked in customer service for a company that did not really care about its employees? Most of us have been in this situation. When this happens, it is not only the employees that are unhappy, their unhappiness will also reflect on your customer’s unhappiness. How can you avoid this? One of the best customer service tips for call centers is probably to take care of your employees and listen to their needs. Despite common disbelief, the customers are only a small part of your company. At the end of the day, you would not have so much success if it weren’t for the people that work for you.
How can you make your employees happy? Well, this is simple. If they have a problem, listen to them. Ask them what their solution is to the problem, rather than telling them someone will take care of this, yet they never do. Customer service doesn’t have to be 24/7. Sure, this depends on the needs of your company, however, most of the time you could get away with regular working hours and give your employees the time to rest and recharge before working again. The best customer service companies that treat their employees right are Salesforce, Cisco, AbbVie, Mars, Admiral Group, and many more. Are you one of them?
2. It’s all about using the right tools
It is not rocket science that using the right tools in your organization will get you further. What exactly are the right tools then? There are a few software you can use that will help your employees and also customers have the smoothest experience. Software like Zendesk, Sprout Social, Salesforce, Jira, and so on. These tools are all there to help you in offering the best customer service. Have you ever used an old software that had so many issues it made the whole experience unpleasant? I am talking about the ones that look like Windows XP yet they are still in use!
If someone would ask what does good customer service looks like, I would say it looks effortless when it comes to getting in touch with a call center agent. If you have a chat option on your website which allows the customer to get in contact with you, make sure they can get through an actual person within minutes. Far too many times the chat option will only be a robot who can only do so much. Although the best software are expensive, it is crucial to invest in them as a company, thus ensuring excellent customer service support.
3. Communication is key
The best customer service companies will all swear by this, communication is key. It is quite ironic, as customer service is based on communication, yet sometimes it couldn’t be more further than that. When the people in your organization are raising an issue to you, and it is not just one person, listen to them. They are on the front end, taking in feedback from customers on a daily basis. If they come to you saying that customers complain about X, Y, Z don’t disregard them. One doesn’t have to be a CEO or a manager to understand customers’ needs. If anything, the people talking directly to them are the ones who understand how the company can get better.
Besides communicating the feedback of customers, all of the departments should have effective communication channels between them. All too often one department does something that will make another department’s job difficult. Besides that, sometimes you cannot even contact one of your team members as they are ‘in a different department’. Why is that? If you can communicate with each other through the system notes, surely you should be able to reach out to them via email or Teams. Make it easy for colleagues to communicate with each other as you can avoid misunderstandings.
4. Mirror your customers
What does good customer service look like in the eyes of the customers? When you are talking to someone on the phone or even via chat/email, it is crucial to match their tone. Now, I’m not saying if someone is angry you should be angry and yell at them as well. What I’m saying, if someone is angry, you shouldn’t be all cheery as that will make them even angrier. A good call center agent will recognize the tone of voice of a customer within the first sentence. It does take time and practice to do this, yet it is a lifesaver.
The most important customer service tip for call centers is, to know what tone to acquire based on the other’s persons tone of voice. You should always keep it polite and helpful. As a company, you have to decide what kind of language you want to use with your customers. If you are a financial company and have important clients, using too friendly language might seem unprofessional. Decide that in the early stages and your customers will know exactly what to expect from you.
5. Listen to your customers complaints
Complaints can be valuable feedback. As a good company, you should recognize that complaints are the most important feedback you could ever receive. The best customer service companies will take on complaints like champions and turn them into a better experience for their customers. If someone is complaining about a broken button on your app, take it as feedback and do everything necessary to fix it. If they are complaining about the color of the interface, take it as feedback and add more options to match more needs.
At the end of the day, every company was made because there was a need. Someone saw a gap in the market and came up with a product. They had an idea about a product which they brought to life. The product was never perfect, it needed people to test it and give their feedback. Your idea of a perfect product might be different than other people’s ideas. Make them feel engaged and like their feedback is valuable. What does good customer service look like? Exactly this, taking on feedback and acting on it.
6. Positive language is important
We cannot stress enough how important it is to use a ‘can-do attitude. Organizations should ensure that all of the employees are using the same language. Instead of saying ‘I am afraid I am unable to help with this, why not say ‘I will do my best to find this out for you. Even if you are unable to help them in the end, the fact that you have tried matters the most and will make their experience much more pleasant. The best tip for companies is to have a knowledge base that can help the members look for answers. There should be a handbook given out to every single member, whether they are in customer service or not.
The way to ensure that everyone is using the same positive language is to make it accessible. This should already be common sense. Customer care is about helping the customer, so you should never give a negative answer if someone needs help. There is however a small chance that some employees are not quite sure how to answer certain questions. That is when a handbook or a knowledge base can come in handy. You can always add to it if new things come up. The use of positive language is one of the best customer service tips for call centers.
7. Quality over quantity
It is day 241 and you are still answering emails from 10 days ago. How can you make sure to give the best quality while maintaining your service level agreement? First of all, hire enough people to be able to answer the phone calls and emails. Sometimes the high workload is the result of being understaffed. Don’t put pressure on the existing employees by making them work extra or setting unrealistic KPIs. You as an organization should ensure that the number of daily emails and calls have enough staff to support them. Even if the workload fluctuates, it is always better to have more employees than have fewer. These are the most important customer service tips for call centers.
Many companies commit the same mistake because they think answering emails quickly counts the most. If you inform the customers from the very beginning that their request might be answered in 48 hours instead of 24, then they will not expect you to reply in 2 hours. You also have to make sure that this information is clearly visible as you don’t want to add chaser emails to your workload. The best customer service companies are all aware that quality over quantity will take you further.
8. First time resolutions
When your customers are facing issues, they want their problems to be solved as quickly as possible. Nobody wants to keep going back and talking to your customer service department. They raised an issue and they want it solved, like yesterday. The way to keep your customers is by providing a solution to their issue within the first phone call or email. Of course, this won’t always be possible and that is fine. But if you are struggling to help them each time and take several emails going back and forth, then eventually you will create a huge workload and unhappy customers.
The best customer service companies got to where they are by analyzing their data fast and understanding what the customers need. To provide first-time resolutions, you have to know what are the most common questions asked and answer them right away. This will take some time and practice, however, you will be able to solve the issues quickly as you have already seen previously. It can be really easy to provide world class customer service, it just needs a little time.
9. Help customers help themselves
Another one of the customer service tips for call centers is to help customers help themselves. Just as your employees had to learn to be independent, your customer should also try to be independent when using your product or when they have questions. Your customers have repeated questions? Make it visible on your website where they can get the answers. Most of the time the FAQ page is hidden on the bottom in a very small font. How about we make it visible on the top so whoever has doubts know where to go instead of calling the customer service team.
You could also implement small signs on the website or app to make the user experience better. There is a way to avoid high volume contact from customers and the best way is to help them early on. If you have an app that your customers use, implement a small video on how to use the app. There will always be the ones that skip the video, however, the majority will watch it thus making their and your life easier. These are examples of good customer service.
10. Collect data, use the data collected
Just as we have gathered statistics over a wide range of subjects, it is important for each organization to collect data and analyze it. How do you know the best way to maximize your services if you are not using the previously collected data? For example, you have implanted a questionnaire about what would customers change in your app. You received thousands of answers. You look at the answers and then you just move on with life. If you have gone through all the trouble to collect the data and feedback of customers, then you might as well use it and try to improve your services.
You might say it is expensive to make changes and while that is correct, it will be more expensive in the long run if you do not make the changes. What does good customer service mean to you? Good customer service means you collect information from your customers and help your company gain even more customers and understand the existing ones. Let’s see other examples of good customer service.
11. Be there to answer your team’s questions
One of the other important customer service tips for call centers is to answer your team’s questions. If you expect your employees to deliver the best service and be there for the customers, then you also need to be there for them. Many companies make the mistake of not being available for a team member when they have a question. Now, more than ever you should make yourself available and ready to help each other. In the era of Covid, when global organizations are working from home, you have to make sure each and every team member gets the support they need.
The number one reason employees resign from companies isn’t necessarily the high workload or low pay. Often times it is due to a lack of support from management’s side. Or sometimes it can be because of too much pressure from management. When you do not concentrate on the important matters your business has, that can lead to employees resigning one after another. The way to avoid this is by supporting your team members just as you would support your customers.
12. Everyone should know customer service
You might wonder why is it important for everyone to know customer service. How can you understand your customer’s needs if people are not involved in customer care as much as the dedicated team? Even if you are working on the backend of the application, you should still understand customer service on some level. Yes, the customer service team will report everything and the managers can provide the coding team with reports. Wouldn’t it be much more efficient for the developers to also understand customers’ needs?
By involving each of the departments in the problems customers face using the product or services, everyone would have a better understanding of what the needs are. Many times we tend to concentrate more on what we think looks the best rather than listening to the majority. So don’t be closed-minded. Involve the team members, ask for their opinion, and have them look over customer feedback rather than just looking through the reports and collected data. These are just a few examples of good customer service.
13. Invest in your people
Do you remember how we said in the beginning that happy employees mean happy customers? When you invest more time and energy into the people who help you keep your business alive, you can achieve great things. By investing I don’t necessarily mean monetary investment. Surely giving them a salary raise every now and then will keep them motivated, however, there are other ways to promote intrinsic motivation. For example, you can give them the opportunity to study through different platforms. Many people are willing to up their skills, few companies give them the chance.
When I used to work for an IT company they gave us the opportunity to lend books from a different company. From January to August I read about 20 books because it was accessible, I didn’t have to buy the books or pay for the service. You can also give them access to different memberships. These can include gym membership, pay for transportation, discounts for families who have kids. Although these are counted as monetary compensation, they are done in an indirect way and would help employees in their daily lives. They will feel like the organization takes care of them.
14. Thank the customers frequently
Another example of good customer service is thanking your customers for their support. Now, this might seem impossible to do if you are a multimillionaire company with millions of customers. Allow me to give you an example. When I bought the OnePlus 6T upon unboxing the phone I found a handwritten note from the CEO. It really adds a personal touch to the brand, even though they are a huge company these notes are always in the boxes and they make you feel like your purchase matters. Like their motto say “Created by you, with you, for you”.
Think about what does good customer service means to you. If you are a smaller or medium-sized company and let’s say you have a subscription-based service you could simply give a discount after 6 months or a year. This way customer feels like they are valued. Do you know how usually only new customers receive discounts? That is fine too, but what about thanking the existing ones for their loyalty? Just try sending them even a thank you note, they will surely give you five stars on Trustpilot.
15. Promised something? Make sure you deliver it
When you promise to do something for your friends or family you try to keep your word and deliver, right? Although your customers are not on that family and friends level, you still have an obligation to keep your word if you have promised them something. Let’s say one of the call center agents received a call but they could not help the customer on the phone call, rather they promised to give them a call back later. Now imagine if that agent didn’t call them back. The customers would instantly lose trust in the company.
This might seem like an exaggeration, yet sometimes this is all it takes for someone to write a bad review of your organization online. If you know you are unable to deliver the service, it is always better, to be honest, and try to come up with a different solution. You never want to look bad by promising something and not keeping your word. This is really one of the top customer service tips for call centers and examples of good customer service. Always deliver what you promised!
16. Understand customers needs
Other examples of good customer service and world class customer service include understanding what your customers need. Have you ever listened to someone and realized you are not really listening? This would be called active listening, which is a very important part of a meaningful and effective conversation. Although you might not always talk to someone directly, you can still “listen” actively to your customer’s needs. What does good customer service mean to you? Listening to their needs should certainly be on the list.
We have used the example of apps, so we will just stick with that. Let’s say you have had an app for 2 years now. You have been developing it and trying to add new features, but only features you thought were good enough. You go to Google Play or the App Store and find thousands of suggestions from customers who are actually helping you better your app. All you have to do is collect the data from that platform and test it. If it works great, if it doesn’t at least you have tried and the people who downloaded the app will appreciate that you did.
17. Admit the mistakes you made
I can imagine this is a hard one to do, yet it will help you stay on the top of your game if you are transparent with your customers. You do not have to tell them every single detail about your company, however, when you make a mistake that is impacting them you have to come clean. If you show transparency people will respect you for that. They will recognize that we are all human and we are allowed to make mistakes, but owning up to them is what makes you become the best within the industry. This is really the top world class customer service advice anyone can receive.
Many companies will hide their faults. Blame it on someone else. ‘There is a delay with your package due to the delivery service’, when in fact it didn’t leave the warehouse in time. It is very easy to blame it on someone else, your customers will never know the truth. Being honest and keeping them involved in your business, services will just help you gain their trust even more. They will tell all of their friends how good you are and recommend you to everyone else.
18. Getting personal is good sometimes
Previously we have talked about getting your customers involved. There is a fitness app called ‘Tone & Sculpt’ created by Krissy Cela. Krissy is a famous fitness influencer on Instagram and Youtube. She created the app for women, to help them achieve their fitness goals with a simple app. Alongside the app, she created a group on Facebook for all of the community members. She got them involved and asked for their feedback on how they are enjoying the app, what issues they have with it, what new workouts to add food. Basically, she improved the app based on the feedback and involvement of the community members.
It is more difficult to do this when you are already a huge company with thousands of customers, yet there are still ways for you to do the same thing. It might take you more time and do more work, but in the end, it will be all worth it. So if someone asks what does good customer service look like, this is exactly what I have in mind. Share your ideas with the consumer, ask them for their feedback and take the feedback onboard. It will be a game-changer.
19. Be easy to contact
One of the last customer service tips for call centers is to be easy to find. We cannot stress enough how important it is to have clear instructions on the website on how to contact the customer care department. When you get a phone call saying ‘I spent 5 minutes to find a phone number for you’, it doesn’t look good on you. On your website, make sure the ‘contact us’ page is easy to find and within that page, you have clear instructions on which number to call.
If you have an international call center supporting multiple languages, then state which number is for a specific language. In case you have phone numbers for multiple departments, explain briefly what this department can help with and you will save both your time and the customer’s time. You will skip transferring them multiple times because they selected the wrong department. Spending more time creating a good ‘contact us’ page will save you even more time when helping customers.
20. Create a community
Lastly, you have to create a community. Just as Krissy did with her team of women empowering each other via a Facebook page, you could do the same. Or another example, Steven Bartlett created a Telegram Group where he releases exclusive content for them before he advertises it on any other social platform. This makes the people feel involved, respected, they are a part of a community and they belong somewhere.
By creating a community, even if it doesn’t involve every single customer, you will end up achieving better results. If you have a million customers on a monthly basis, and out of that million even 30,000 will give you feedback on some social platform, you are already gaining a lot of insight. Ask yourself what does good customer service look like and when you have the answer, you’ll know what to implement within your organization.
Customer service tips – Conclusion
We have reached the end of the top customer service tips for call centers and world class customer service tips. We hope you have found some insightful ideas and they have inspired you to make some changes in your company. The examples of good customer service are very simple, yet it might take some time to recognize them. The best customer service companies will always ask questions about what does good customer service mean to you and what does good customer service look like. This way they will know how to improve in the future.