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5 Tips to Improve Customer Support Phone Interactions

How well are you taking care of customers with your inbound customer service program? Like most forward-thinking organizations taking incoming customer calls, you likely understand that your support agents are an essential part of your team. By providing strong, customer-friendly support, you’ll solidify relationships with your audience and keep your company headed in a positive direction. While an inbound support plan is often passive, you can take steps to ensure that your callers experience a top-notch interaction. Here are five ways to boost your support efforts.

Answer promptly. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of incoming calls is the wait time that your customers experience. The longer they have to wait, the more aggravated they’re going to be when they finally get to talk to someone. During times when longer holds are inevitable, set proper expectations by letting the caller know via a pre-recorded message that they should expect a slightly longer wait. You need to think about every aspect of the customer experience — and it starts with making sure that you have enough agents to reasonably accommodate the number of incoming calls you receive.

Ensure your phone agents are friendly and knowledgeable. A little bit of orientation goes a long way. Be sure that agents are providing service with a smile–literally. Believe it or not, when your agents are smiling, they’ll sound sunnier and friendlier to the caller, making for a more positive customer interaction. Also make sure that they’re knowledgeable about the products or services of the company. If the customer has to be placed on hold, be sure to utilize proper hold protocols and check in with the caller regularly.

According to a survey conducted by Microsoft, 72 percent of customers expect the agent to know who they are and what they’ve purchased. Providing these insights to your agents eliminates redundancies as well as frustration. If you’re not already using CRM software that’s integrated with your customer database to quickly provide insights, now’s the time to introduce it.

Emphasize the positive and take accountability. Your customers are calling because they have a question or a complaint. They don’t want to be told what you can’t do for them. Make sure that your agents know how to accentuate the positive, yet fully own when things don’t work out. Start with “I’m sorry.” A number of bad experiences can be rectified simply by taking ownership of the mistake and apologizing. Then focus on what you can do for the person on the phone. This way, you’re not ending the conversation on a negative note.

Request feedback and take action on the feedback provided. The same Microsoft survey shows that 77 percent of consumers will view a brand favorably if they invite and accept customer feedback. You don’t want to be so closed off that people can’t share what they think about your product, your level of customer service, or other vital aspects of your business. Work to reach out to people after their call to customer support to determine whether they had a satisfactory experience. Compile that feedback and incorporate your findings in your training manuals and procedures.

Prioritize two-way communication with your team. You should keep up consistent communication with your customer service agents. They’re the ones interacting with your customers. They need to be up to date on information that would impact their customer communications,  whether it’s the launch of a new product or a series of complaints about a problematic offering. When your agents are more “in the know,” they’ll be equipped to provide better customer service.

Your inbound customer service program should be constantly evolving. The advent of SMS (text)-based support shows that phone support can and should be more than live voice calls. Growing segments like SMS and phone apps using embedded live chat give you more opportunities to improve your support offerings. As that happens, you’ll likely notice a concurrent increase in customer loyalty and a similar bump in positive word of mouth that you may hear about anecdotally or see on online review sites. Customer retention and advocacy is invaluable. When done well, your customer’s telephone support experience can help you improve both.

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Talk Back

Melinda Wray
Posted on August 26, 2019

Great article!! All these tips are very helpful. Good customer service skills are very essential to bridge the gap between the company and its customers, and it is equally important to introduce new automation tools that can empower the agents to improve interaction with customers. When traditional agents collaborate with advance machines, customer experience will reach the next generation.

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