If economic downturns and times of recession have taught American businesses anything, it’s that developing customer relationships is a much more profitable strategy than many might have believed in the past.
Gone are the days when customers were disposable, today’s approach is all about maximizing loyalty and slowing churn in order to increase the profit per customer and reducing marketing costs.
In fact, Gallup found that a customer who is actively engaged with a brand actually represents a 23 percent increase in terms of wallet share compared to the average. A lot of what it takes to make that engaged customer starts with your call center or telephone customer service representatives.
With these customer service-training tips, you’ll be able to quickly turn your customer experience around and slow customer hemorrhaging. It’s easier than you’d think:
1. Cut the annoying catchphrases. One of the biggest takeaways from the 2015 National Consumer Rage Study was that customers are sick to death of hearing canned catchphrases. Stock phrases that customers would like to see banned from customer service scripts include “Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold,” “That’s our policy” and “We are currently assisting other customers. Your call will be answered in the order in which it was received.”
In place of the two hold phrases, you could feature information on your new or popular products, or answers to common questions. If your company is still essentially telling a customer to take a hike by insisting that your inability to find a solution is just “company policy,” you’re inviting customer churn.
2. Spend more time training your customer service team. Increasingly, customers are asking that they be spoken to in plain, everyday language instead of scripted responses.
They want to connect to their customer service representatives in a meaningful way, so they can better understand what has happened and be reassured that their problem won’t happen again. They also want to be treated with some basic respect. The better trained your people are on your products and services, as well as in their ability to resolve problems, the easier it will be for them to go off script and speak frankly and easily with their callers.
3. Reduce upselling goals. There is value in a properly placed and executed upsell, but if your employees are being forced to upsell to meet their goals, they’re not doing upselling right. Instead of blindly pushing anything so they can keep their jobs, teach your telephone customer service employees about the power of upsells. This is another place where really excellent training can come into play — after all, if your people know what you have to offer, they’re going to be better at pulling the right upsell out at the right time.
For example, if your company does technical support for Smartphones, a customer who calls complaining that their phone is behaving strangely might also let slip during the conversation that they dropped it on the floor. Depending on the plan the customer has, your customer support person might offer an insurance package for the phone in case the next time the customer drops the phone is the last, or a hard case to protect it against further damage. These are both useful upsells that will protect the customer against further costs in the future, not sales for their own sake.
4. Empower your customer service front line. For many years large corporations made the decision to take a lot of power away from front line customer service employees, giving them the hard decision of having to tell customers “no” or justifying handing them off to a more specialized operator. This kind of behavior isn’t going to cut it in today’s market, according to the American Express 2014 Global Customer Barometer. A whopping 99 percent of customers surveyed said that the most important part of excellent customer service was being provided with a “satisfactory answer to their question.”
These callers like customer service agents that are efficient and empowered so they don’t have to waste a lot of time holding for various departments or fighting for permission to be escalated to someone who can actually help them. Empowering your customer service front line does more than make your customers super happy, though — it also saves you money. If your first tier team can handle all of a customer’s problems in one go, they’re less likely to call back on the same issue.
Today’s customers are more informed than ever before and have proven that they’re more than willing to head straight into the arms of a competitor if you’re not making them feel welcome. The big secret to developing an excellent telephone customer experience is to move the focus away from getting the caller off of the phone as quickly as possible and onto first time call resolution. Nothing builds customer loyalty and decreases churn like making customers feel like they are truly being heard.