4. It’s okay if you don’t know something!
You may sometimes think that both callers and your manager expect you to be a walking encyclopaedia of answers to all possible questions and problems.
But even experienced salespeople don’t know the answer to every question and sometimes have to ask for help. You cannot solve every problem and satisfy 100% of the customers, because some things will be beyond your control.
Instead of pretending to know the answer when you don’t (the caller will quickly realise this), honestly admit that you can’t answer the question or problem, but that you can contact someone who does.
This way you come across as a helpful and professional agent, not as a “know-it-all”.
5. Don’t tell a customer you’re new
It may be okay to tell a caller you don’t know the answer to a question, but you can’t justify it by saying you just got hired.
If you do, the chances are that the customer will doubt your ability to solve the problem and may ask you to transfer him to another agent.
So even if you are a beginner, avoid saying or implying it to a customer.
6. Ask for help when you need it
We all have bad days when work doesn’t go our way.
- Is something unclear to you?
- Do you need help using the phone system or other call center tools
- Do you have a problem filling out the paperwork?
Don’t hesitate to ask other colleagues for tips or help if you feel you have too much on your plate. You don’t have to do everything by yourself – accepting someone else’s help once in a while and helping others in return is what makes a great team.
7. Make sure you know your tools and knowledge base well
Asking for help with a complicated problem or something you’re not familiar with is one thing, but during a phone call you don’t have much time to ask your colleague if he can help you sort through the knowledge base. Or to explain how the call centre software works.
So to avoid a nerve-racking situation where you can’t find something in the knowledge base or can’t remember how to do something in the system, you need to take the time to learn how the software works.
Not only will this help improve your own self-confidence, your extensive knowledge will also impress your callers.
8. Write a call script
It is important that you know everything about the product and the system, but it may happen that you occasionally get stuck. With a handy guide, you’ll soon be on the right track again.
- Belscripts are incredibly useful for anyone who makes tons of phone calls every day.
- Belscripts are especially useful during hectic days or as a guide for new agents who still have to learn the ropes. It can save them a lot of stress.
Tip: Add answers to frequently asked questions, ways to deal with angry customers on the phone or tips on overcoming sales resistance to your script.
9. Analyse your conversations
Providing good customer service takes a lot of practice.
With every phone call you make, you learn more and can use that knowledge to improve your skills for the next call. But when you make dozens of calls every day, it’s almost impossible to remember every detail.
Our advice is to play those recordings to a colleague and ask them for an opinion – they might point out things you hadn’t thought of or give you tips on how to tackle specific problems.
With the recording feature in call centre software you improve team productivity, customer satisfaction and boost sales
10. Talk slowly and calmly
Customers can immediately read the mood of an agent by the way he speaks. You’ve probably experienced many situations where you called someone, and the person on the other end made you feel like a nuisance, right? What was your reaction to that? Did you want to end the call as soon as possible?
If the agent sounds frustrated or irritated, that makes the caller nervous too. But if an agent speaks in a natural and cheerful voice, it makes callers feel more at ease.
Speaking at a fast pace can also frustrate the caller. To you it may sound as if you want to give as much information as possible, but to the caller it may seem as if you want to end the conversation as quickly as possible. Moreover, speaking quickly makes it difficult for the caller to understand what you are saying.
11. Smile while on the phone
Following on from the previous point – do you know a great way to make yourself sound cheerful when you answer a phone call? Smile while you do it! This may sound like a strange tip (smiling while answering the phone? Huh?), but according to several studies, it actually works.
Smiling changes your tone of voice into a more positive one, and your callers can hear that!
You can test it yourself. Try saying something with a smile and then say the same thing with a neutral expression. You will probably notice that your voice sounds friendlier and more cheerful in the first case.
Starting a conversation with a smile is a great way to set a positive tone for the whole conversation.
12. Don’t leave the caller disappointed
If you’re solving a customer’s problem, never leave them with an answer or solution that upsets them or disappoints them, because it could make them leave your company in a heartbeat.
Before ending the call, make sure that the customer is satisfied with the answer and that there are no further questions. Also let them know when you will call again, if that is the case.
13. Put your callers on hold
Customers don’t like being put on hold, because it makes the call last longer. But if it will actually help them get their problem solved faster, they are much more likely to agree to it. If you need to ask a manager or colleague for advice or an explanation, don’t hesitate to put the customer on hold. But that doesn’t mean you can leave them hanging!
- First ask your customers if they would be willing to wait on hold while you ask a colleague for help with their problems.
- If they agree, put them on hold.
- If they agree, tell them (if you know) how long they will be on hold and that you will get back to them as soon as possible.
- After you’ve answered the call, tell them that you’ll be on hold for a few minutes.
- After returning to the call, thank the customer for remaining on hold.
- If a customer says they are on hold, tell them that you will contact them as soon as possible.
- If a customer says they don’t want to be put on hold (if they are busy, for example), ask them if and when you can contact them later.
Customers would rather get their problems solved on the first phone call than have to make several. If that means spending a little more time on the line, most are fine with that.
14. Ask the right questions
You may get callers telling you exactly what’s wrong and exactly what they need help with – they’ve already checked all the possible causes and identified the main problem.
But most callers only know they have a problem and may have no idea what is causing it.
In such a situation, you can either take it lying down and try to solve the problem right away (without knowing enough), or you can dig around to find the real problem.
Here are a few questions you can ask to find out what exactly is bothering the caller:
- What happened when you tried to…?
- When exactly did the problem start?
- How does the problem sound to you?
- What have you tried to do with…?
Learning more about the problem the customer is calling about without jumping to conclusions can speed things up (because you don’t have to try out a number of solutions straight away) and enable you to solve the real problem during the first conversation.
Dealing with calls from elderly customers comes with its own set of challenges. First, it can be difficult for them to explain to you exactly what problem they have or what they want you to do for them, so you have to give them extra attention and ask them detailed questions.
It may also take longer for them to make decisions or respond to your questions, so you should remain patient, listen to them carefully, and check that they understood the instructions you gave them (you may suggest that they write them down) and are satisfied with the way the issue was handled.
16. Admit your mistakes
For some reason, many people (and companies) seem to think that if they pretend they are infallible and that they never make mistakes, that customers will have more confidence in their service or product. And very often that strategy backfires when a company tries to cover up a blatant mistake they made instead of simply apologising to the customer. After all, we are all human beings who make mistakes.
So whether you made a mistake during a conversation with a customer or a mistake in your paperwork, admit it and fix it. Be a Gert-Jan Segers. This shows that you take responsibility for your actions and are prepared to show your face when you make a mistake. And believe me, nothing impresses a customer more than when an officer can sincerely apologise to him for making a mistake.
17. Take a break when you need it
With so much to do during the day, you might struggle to find time for a short break – especially if you have an endless amount of phone calls and problems to solve. But you’ve probably also noticed that sitting in front of your screen for hours on end, or having conversation after conversation, saps your energy and productivity.
When this happens, take a break! A short break to step away from your screen and take a short walk can refresh your mind and get you back to 100% work. You can use the break to make a cup of tea or coffee, eat a snack, check your social media, or…
We spend most of the day sitting down and it’s really unhealthy. It’s even called the new smoking. Especially in call centres, where the work never stops, you may feel that you spend most of your time sitting on your backside.
Work standing up, spend your breaks walking and do some squats now and then.
Afraid of getting weird looks from your colleagues? Walking during the day or taking the stairs instead of using the lift can work just as well.
Mute buttons are great for three things:
- Short pauses during a call when you don’t need to put the customer on hold
- Have a way for an angry customer to vent his frustration without you having to listen to him
- To take your anger out when you have a particularly lazy customer
But there are also plenty of horror stories about mute buttons that weren’t really on mute, so don’t rely on them too much.
Double check the mute button before you sound off to make sure your caller doesn’t hear you.
20. Learn how to deal with rude customers
It’s one thing when a customer expresses dissatisfaction with a faulty product or service, but quite another when callers resort to abusive language, verbal abuse, or perhaps even threats.
What can you do in such a situation? One solution is to remind yourself that the customer is not angry with you, even if the insults seem directed at you. They are angry at the software, at company policies, at themselves for making a stupid mistake and having to ask for help, or just angry about something completely unrelated to the conversation and needing a way to vent.
You only appeared to be conveniently getting in their way, so don’t get upset.
Be polite, apologise for the inconvenience, and stay calm – even if you feel tempted to talk back.
Our tip on what to do after such a conversation? Take a break and give yourself time to calm down. You can vent to a colleague about the caller, do some stretching exercises, rest, or have a snack and a cup of tea. If the caller was particularly aggressive, report him to management.
21. Personalise your workplace
We spend about a third of our lives at work. What does your workspace look like? Do you only have a computer, a phone, and lots of office-related papers on your desk? If you sit at a dull, grey desk in a cluttered room all day, it can be hard to stay cheerful, productive and motivated. So why not transform your corner, cubicle, or room into something more inviting?
Making working in a call centre more fun can also be done literally, by brightening up your workplace. To brighten up your desk, you can place personal objects (family photos, travel memories, mascots, etc.), funny posters, plants, or other things that brighten up your workplace. Remember, of course, that you’re still at work – so stuffing your desk with trinkets or using beach photos isn’t the best idea.
22. Leave some tasks to automation
Besides answering or making calls, you probably have dozens of smaller tasks that you have to do every day – updating your database, checking your stats, writing emails, and all the other tasks that are part of your call centre routine. But do you really need to do them all manually? Not in 2021!
There are plenty of automation tools on the market today that can free up some of your time and allow you to focus on your customers. Steam-connect, for example, offers several handy ways to automate some of your daily tasks and make your work life a little easier, such as:
- Automatic call queuing – all incoming calls are sorted into different queues based on previously defined rules, and automatically routed to the appropriate agent.
- Call recording – Steam-connect can automatically record all calls and store them in a database, where they can be accessed at any time.Call notes – these allow you to add comments to any conversation, either during or afterwards.
How are you going to make working in a call center more enjoyable?
Life is a party, but you have to hang the garlands yourself. That is really not different in a call center. Making working at a call centre more enjoyable is something you really have to do yourself, but it certainly doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Just use our tips and tricks to make your life a little easier!