As technology grows companies grow more dependent on call centers to handle their customers. Unfortunately the need for customer service is not emphasized among all departments. Just because your other departments are titled something other than ‘Customer Service’ doesn’t mean that they should be any less helpful than your main department. Every time an employee interacts with a customer they are providing customer service, good or bad.
Many companies tend to skip over the basic essentials of customer service when it comes to other departments. If you only focus on good service through your company’s Customer Service department your customers will quickly realize when they call a different department such as Technical Support or Collections. Having your phone or internet not working right is upsetting enough but when you hear a dispassionate voice telling you things in automatic monotone the situation feels worse. Encourage all employees to be friendly and informative. They do not have to sound like upbeat fifteen year old girls, but they should at least convey compassion and understanding to the person calling in.
Over the years I have had experience in multiple call centers. I have worked in customer service, sales, and technical support. All too often I hear a customer quickly mention that the person they spoke to before was rude or downright unhelpful. Some customers even begin describing their issue with raised voices or a tone simply because their expectation is to encounter an unfriendly voice on the other end. If your customers have to call in mentally preparing for battle, you have a customer service problem. Your customers should not see your company or its employees as a necessary evil.
With that being said, sometimes the company policies are what create an environment for poor customer service. It is common practice for call centers to use a system called ‘Call Metrics’ to monitor employee efficiency. While the model for Call Metrics sounds good on paper, it is all too often used with extreme conditions. Companies tend to list a maximum call time that is so short it leaves employees feeling constantly pressured to hurry up and move on. When these Call Metrics are not met serious punishments can occur such as
- Negative feedback on the employees record
- Probationary periods of lower income or benefit loss
These possibilities push the employee to cut corners, play ‘transfer the customer’, or simply apply the equivalent of a ‘Band-aid’ on the account so that someone else can deal with the underlying issue at a later time. All of these actions impact customer service. Someone who is stressed out about their job is also less likely to sound open and friendly to a customer, driving customer service down even further.
If you work for a call center now and have restrictions that make calls difficult, please try to at least sound friendly. We are all people with emotions. If you sound friendly and helpful the person on the other end will hear that and feel better that you are doing your best with everything you have. If you happen to be in charge of your company’s call policies, consider trying to find a balance between the need for quick times vs the need for customer service. Happy customer call in less and tend to spend more while unhappy customers find new providers for their services. Even if you own the monopoly of the area, consider customer service important. Otherwise customers may seek methods to limit your revenue. Also know that with consumer demand, other companies can move in and if your monopoly of the area has reigned with poor service, those customers will flock to the competitor with out second thoughts.