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Call center best practices for engaging customers

Proven techniques for creating a more welcoming call center environment

In a call center, the goal is to create a positive experience for current and potential customers. With high call volumes, anxious customers and stressed-out representatives, it’s often easier said than done.

So how do brands with iconic customer service — brands like Zappos, American Express and Land’s End — do it? How do they provide exceptional customer care experiences time after time?

While there’s no magic formula for creating best-in-class customer service, there are a number of proven best practices for creating happy customers, cheerful reps and a lasting reputation for distinguished customer care. Here they are:

Hire the right people

Great care starts with great reps. To find the best talent for your call center, don’t restrict your search to those people with call center experience. Instead, look for candidates with direct, in-person customer care experience.

People with backgrounds in hospitality, retail, and even hospitals and nursing homes make ideal targets, as those industries live and breathe customer focus. Representatives in these fields work with one customer at a time, giving them a unique perspective on customer service that is not limited by a transactional mindset.

Keep training your employees

Hiring great talent is just the first step. To keep your top employees at the top of their games, training is vital. Don’t just give new hires scripts and plunk them down in front of a computer. Rather, provide regular training sessions that focus on customer care as an ever-evolving skill. Keep employees abreast of the latest developments in customer service trends and best practices, and make sure they stay in touch with any shifts in branding or messaging.

Training can also be beneficial in terms of employee morale. As Terri Maxwell notes at the Working Solutions Blog, regular training gives your reps a much-needed respite from the phones.

Play matchmaker

Assurant Solutions had a problem. The insurance and financial solutions company had a high rate of customer acquisition. Unfortunately, it had an equally high rate of customer churn.

To remedy the situation, the company focused on enhancing its frontline of customer care — the call center. It developed a proprietary algorithm that analyzed the most successful calls and then grouped those customers into clusters based on multiple factors. Using the data collected, Assurant automatically matched inbound customer calls to specially trained representatives based on the customers’ issues and needs. Ultimately, churn went down, retention went up, and the reps were happier and more productive than ever before.

If your staff is made up entirely of generalists, you’re not doing justice to your customers or to your business. Determine what your customers need, realize that their needs will not always be uniform and train your staff accordingly. Then, sit back and watch your customer satisfaction rates rise.

Customer care can’t be an afterthought; it must be an integral part of your brand and the way you do business. Moving your call center away from a traditional transactional mentality and embracing the power of providing amazing customer care experiences can differentiate you from your competition. Your reps will be happier and more productive, and your customers will become enthusiastic brand evangelists, telling all their friends and colleagues about the surprisingly delightful experience they had on the other end of the phone. That’s a win-win.