According to statistics revolving around customer service, 91% of clients aren’t willing to conduct business with a particular company if their first impression (call handling, for example) was negative or they were unhappy with the services offered.
On the other hand, if a company takes the necessary measures and resolves the issues of their clients, 70% will be willing to return and do repeat business.
Statistics such as these vividly demonstrate how crucial proper customer support is – and call handling is a vital part of that process. For companies, how effectively your call handling process is handled can significantly determine your customer retention rate.
Direct calls are still many customers’ preferred method of communication
Despite our technological advances in recent years, a direct phone call is still often many customers’ preferred method of having their issues resolved.
There is a certain sense of reassurance that results from a human being accepting your call and helping you address your concerns. Effective call handling is therefore crucial in retaining current customers and gaining new ones through a reputation for excellent customer service and fast response times.
In this article, we discuss various tips and strategies to help improve your call-handling process and implement outstanding client interaction into every call.
Strategies to improve call handling
You can implement several strategies to improve your business’s call-handling process. Some of these strategies include:
Keeping the customer informed throughout the call
Keeping your client informed during calls is one of the best ways to optimise their experience. Callers can quickly run out of patience if they’re seeking a quick resolution but are instead finding themselves being put on hold indefinitely or transferred from one representative to another without any clear reason.
You should always keep your customer in the loop about what is happening during each stage of their call and keep in mind that time is very important for them.
For instance, if you are transferring a call or conference line, check that the person can receive the call first. And inform your client of the time it will take and update them on the progress. Even when you are keeping them on hold, inform them that their wait time is going to be five more minutes before they are back on the line.
It’s a big mistake to keep your customers on hold indefinitely, especially when they cannot speak with anyone. Informing them that they will hear back from a representative in X minutes is an effective way to keep them engaged and placated while your staff work at fixing their issues in the background.
Conveying a sense of urgency
People are more time-poor than ever before. So it is crucial that your caller feels that their time is being used wisely and their concerns are being addressed with sincerity. If your customer service representatives can convey a sense of urgency when they speak to the caller, it can do wonders for making them aware that their problem is being taken seriously.
This sense of urgency can be communicated through a statement such as:
“We are going to have to transfer you to another department, but I will be sure to get this issue taken care of as soon as possible and we will update you at every stage of this call.“
If the representative doesn’t convey any urgency, the customer may be left with the impression that your business doesn’t care about their concerns.
Call handling is about validating the customer’s concerns
Validation is an effective way to make your customer feel heard and understood when they’re having a bad experience with your product or service. Validation can go a long way toward reversing this feeling and can be achieved by using phrases such as:
- “I understand how important this issue is to you so thank you for explaining it to me.”
- “I’m so sorry to hear that. I will be glad to assist you with trying to get this issue resolved.”
- “I understand your frustration and I will make sure this is taken care of as soon as possible.”
Such strategies will allow you to be more attentive and responsive to your clients. By implementing validation into your call-handling process, you will elevate the quality of your call-handling to a new level.
Avoid placing any blame on the customer
Under no circumstances should a representative ever place blame on a caller. Even if it is 100% their fault that this issue has arisen in the first place, they don’t want to be reminded of this. If this is highlighted it will only decrease their overall customer experience and possibly lead to a rise of anger and frustration.
Instead of placing the blame, instead, focus on resolving the issue. The essence of call handling lies in keeping the customer happy and satisfied, while at the same time resolving issues and keeping the overall system moving forward smoothly. Therefore, representatives should always aim to de-escalate and resolve, without throwing any blame at the caller.
Empathising with your customers
While genuine empathy isn’t always right there for a customer service representative to use, it is vital to remember that if a customer feels like your business doesn’t care about them, they’ll go find another business that does.
Even if a caller is impatient or unreasonable, the representative mustn’t respond in kind. Instead, they should focus on expressing empathy with the customer and focus on how to resolve their issue.
Empathy truly is a key tool in the call-handling process because it builds a connection with the caller and establishes a certain trust that their concerns are going to be appropriately addressed.
Practising active listening during call handling
There is a massive difference between someone listening to you, and then someone hearing you. All of us can probably easily remember a time when we’ve spoken to a tech support agent or a customer service representative and we just knew they weren’t hearing what our concerns were.
Don’t let this mentality creep into your organisation. Improving call handling is really about finding solutions to problems, and the proactiveness required to achieve this is grounded in active listening.
Not only does active listening provide your representatives with the information they need to fix the problem, but it also provides the caller with the reassurance they need that they’re being heard and their problem is being addressed.
Making wait times engaging
Time is relative. How long it takes for two minutes to pass is very different for someone waiting for the bathroom than it is for the person who is in the bathroom.
In other words, “hold times” can feel much longer than they are for waiting customers, so it’s crucial to remain aware of this and address it.
This can be achieved by keeping the caller engaged through hold music, regular time window updates and frequent communication. All of these steps can prevent customers from hanging up and feeling like they had a negative experience.
Ensuring that greetings and goodbyes are used
If a caller has just been waiting for a while, they must be greeted with warmth and enthusiasm when the call finally does connect to a representative.
We all know that a large volume of calls can sap the energy and personableness of any call centre operative. After hours of calls, it can be easy to drift into a more robotic auto-pilot style of interaction that lacks a little flair and personality.
Therefore, it is a great idea to occasionally check in on your agents and ensure that their voice and tone have remained sincere and warm through the use of greetings and goodbyes. This will ensure that every customer who wants your business will feel valued and understood, rather than just yet another caller at the end of a long day.
More effective call handling starts with One Contact
Your call-handling process can benefit enormously from partnering up with One Contact. Our efficient, secure, and state-of-the-art VoIP business phone systems can ensure that your business incorporates the most modern communication technologies so your customers can always reach you and you never miss a sale.
When combined with our strong, stable and secure Business Broadband, our modern business phone systems can take your business communications to the next level, helping to enhance your customer experience, improve collaboration, boost productivity, and increase mobility.
Get in touch today to discover how our VoIP business phone systems can help your customers reach you when they need your help the most.