Strategy

How to Make Your Call Centre Shine

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Most people have a negative image of call centres. When they hear the words “call centre” they immediately think about long holds, agents who cannot speak proper English and just plain frustration. In spite of this, there are still many call centres thriving around the world. If you are operating a call centre, you need to shine in order to get noticed. You need to get ahead of your competition. Here are a few ways you can stand out.

Do what you say

Do not go making big promises you cannot keep. You will surely get angry customers. If you tell a customer that you will call back, do it. If you promise a resolution within 24 hours, you better deliver.

Empower your agents

Get rid of the long queues in your office. Empower your agents to solve problems on their own. Eliminate the need for a supervisor’s help. Provide tools and information to your agents which they can readily use when needed.

 Go local

Utilize local suppliers. Open jobs in your community. Hire people locally. Get partners locally. By doing this, you are being socially and environmentally responsible. Now those are positive points you can put in your website.

Help your agents succeed

Aside from empowering your agents to solve customer problems on their own, you can also open opportunities for them to advance their careers. Give them trainings and other resources that will help them level up. Hire internally if there are openings in upper management. By doing this, you save money on training and you can be sure about an employee’s capabilities and skills. You are assured that he or she will be able to perform as expected because you trained them. You also boost employee morale. Inspiring your agents to get better in their jobs with result to great customer service and ultimately, happy customers.

Share examples of great customer service

You can share examples of great customer service done by different people in your company. You can also inspire your agents by teaching them about great customer service from successful brands.

 Just do it

Don’t make a bunch of promises. Just deliver. Just do what you are supposed to do. You can change people’s perception of you one customer at a time.

Create and encourage customer feedback channels

There are many ways you can reach out to your customers. After a call, your agents can ask 1 or 2 questions about the service they have experienced. They can rate a problem resolution from 1 to 5 (with 5 being the highest) and say if they were satisfied with the solution they have been given.

You can also open your social media channels to feedback. Do not be afraid of negative criticism. Handle them professionally and assure the client that you are working towards making the issue better.

Do not neglect your website. Most people go to a company’s website first in order to give feedback. Make it easy for your clients to reach you. Provide a comments box and a user-friendly navigations system in your website.

Customer service

 Opting out of a queue

Allow your customers the option to get out of a queue and just offer them a call back when the next agent becomes available. This will save a lot of time on both parties. It will also lessen your customer’s frustration. Don’t leave them on-hold for a long time. Be sure to give your client a call back. Never ever forget about a client.

Fix your business

The call centre should be there to support you. You shouldn’t be running a call centre if you are doing an amazing job. But, let’s face it. Nobody is perfect so once in a while, a few problems will arise with your products and services. Your call centre should only be composed of a few people dealing with minor problems. If you put up a call centre because of the overwhelming complaints you are getting from your customers, then it’s high time you examine your business.

Give customers what they want

Listen to your customers. Most of their suggestions make sense. Give them the services they want.

 Offer simple IVR menus

Need we say more? Simplifying the call process helps your clients resolve their issues quickly.

Invest

Invest in different areas of your business – technology, virtual call centres, training and people. Constantly striving to become a better company is a good attitude that your employees and customers will appreciate. Ensure your telephone system is working  with you, you can save a lot of time with automated calling and headsets. If you need an upgrade it is worth shopping around for quotes to save even more on your telephone system, a comparison site like www.businesstelephonesystem.org makes this easy.

Set standards

Set high quality standards in your office. Promote best practice. Strive for industry qualifications.

Set realistic targets

Sure, you need to set high standards but that does not equate to unrealistic targets. You should also examine what your people are capable of. You should set achievable performance levels and sales targets.

Choose your target market wisely

People don’t want to hear salesmen selling products or services they don’t have any use for. Be careful if you are operating an outbound call center. Instead of sales, you might get angry customers on the line.

Recruit the right people

During training, you will immediately see which persons can mesh with your company culture. You can see which ones believe in your vision/mission. Immediately let go of someone who is not a good fit. They will just be causing problems in the long run.

 Examine your company for weaknesses

Every call centre has a fault or a weakness. Try to pinpoint the problem areas then build an action plan on how to turn your weaknesses into strengths.

Know when the most convenient time to call

The best way to know this is by asking your customers what the best time to call them is. You don’t want to be calling an evening person in the morning and vice versa.

Some customers don’t want to be contacted thru phone so be sure to ask if they prefer email or SMS instead.

 Offer better security

Avoid fraud and stolen customer data by beefing up your security protocols. You don’t want to lose your customers because they don’t trust you to handle their confidential information. If you are handling debit or credit card information, be sure that they are safe and secure.

Keep a professional environment

Even though you don’t talk to your customers face to face, you should still maintain a professional environment by eliminating unnecessary noise. Your customers should not hear other conversations going on in the background.

Train employees well

Your agents should be polite, understanding and helpful at all times, period.

 

How to Manage Background Noise in Your Call Centre

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Maybe you are already used to the noise in your call centre but it’s a different story with your customers. Background noise over the phone can be very irritating to your callers. It can also be distracting.

If you want to know how much background noise can be heard during a call, make a test call yourself. Listen if you will be able to hear an agent wearing or removing his headset. Listen for background chatter. Listen if there are desk fans causing excess noise.

If you want to reduce the background noise in your contact centre, here some helpful tips.

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In the workplace

 

Install acoustic ceiling tiles

 Ask your engineer if they can install acoustic tiles or get some advice from engineers who build a recording studio. They will be able to advise you on the best way to reduce noise in your office. The acoustic tiles will make a big difference. There are several materials that can be used to reduce sound in your office.

Install an adjustable white noise system

 Like the acoustic tiles, a white noise system can also diminish noise. Choose one that can be adjusted based on the call volume your call centre receives.

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Padded cubicles

 Put your agents in padded cubicles so they are more isolated from the rest of the team. A higher front panel will also absorb sound.

Glass cubicles

If you really can’t control office chatter, setup glass cubicles or partitions so that each agent is completely isolated.

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Intelligent planning

 The architecture of your office will greatly help in reducing sound. Doors and corridors can be very helpful. You can close off work areas from public areas such as lounges, break rooms and lifts.

Nature

Take a cue from nature and install water features and plants around the office. The soothing sound of water will help give a relaxed environment. Both the water features and the plants will absorb the excess sound. If your customers should hear a sound, the sound of water is a much better alternative than ringing phones or conversations.

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Art

 Nature and art go hand in hand especially in a call centre. Artwork canvasses hung on walls and fabric screens also reduce background noise. They add both form and function to your office.

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People

 Keep agent voices down

 The best way to reduce noise is to train your agents to keep their voices down. They should be aware and respectful of other agents who are talking on the phone. Train them to have a level tone of voice.

Strictly no discussions in the work area

 Tell your agents not to hold discussions or small talk behind or in front of an agent who is currently engaged in a call. If the customer hears this chatter, he or she will have the impression that your company is not professional.

Discourage agents from talking about their personal lives in the work area. Save that for the break room.

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 Assign a break room

 When an agent goes on break, he should not be loitering or staying in the work area. All agents on break must go to the break room. They should leave their desks – no eating, texting or chatting in their cubicles. To encourage your agents to go to the break room, set up a snack bar. You can fill it up with juice, coffee, tea, sweets, fruits, cereals, energy bars, etc. The energy boost will help your agents be refreshed and ready to go back to their shift.

Seat same-shift agents together

People tend to be a bit noisy when they come in or leave for a shift so seating agents who have the same schedules together will reduce noise. They can talk all they want after their shift without disturbing the other agents.

Playback

 If an agent is noisy or too loud, it might be a good idea to play a recording of his own voice to him. This recording will help him realize how much he is disrupting the workplace. It also distracts the other agents who are on the phone.

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Technology

 Chat

 Encourage agents to chat online instead of shouting from across the room or getting up to talk to a supervisor. Set up an internal webchat system so your employees won’t be tempted to chat with other contacts in their social networking sites.

Email

 If you are still worried about installing a webchat system because it might encourage personal conversations during work hours, just use the good old emailing system to talk to each other.

No phones

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 Restrict smartphones from the work area. This will keep personal conversations out of the office. It will eliminate extra noise such as ringing and text alerts.

Invest in good quality headphones

 There is a reason why some headphones are way more expensive than others. They have a built-in noise reduction system. The materials used are also designed to keep noise out. Your clients will also have a better call experience with the right phone system.

Turn up the volume of the agent’s own voice feedback

 By turning up the volume of the agent’s own voice feedback in his headset will help lower his voice volume.

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 There are several reasons why customers hate calling or receiving a call from a call centre and one of them is the background noise. Who wants to hear other people’s conversations while you are currently having one yourself? Also, if your customer can hear another agent’s conversation then you might be committing a breach of their privacy. There are strict regulations regarding a customer’s personal details and if you are not careful, some of those confidential information might be leaked due to poor call and noise management.

Assess the noise level in your office. If you can, call in the professionals to fix it. Fixing your office to reduce background noise is a good investment. You will sound professional over the phone and your customers will thank you for it. They will also trust you that you are handling their concerns and personal details well.

VoIP – The Things You Need to Know

You must have a reliable Internet Connection

It is absolutely necessary for you to get a reliable Internet connection. You need speed and stability so that’s what you should look for when shopping for a vendor. A good connection will allow your VoIP to work properly. You avoid dropped calls with a good DSL.

Costs

VoIP providers usually offer unlimited minutes for a fixed monthly fee. But, you must also take other costs into consideration such as hardware installation. Depending on your office needs, installation can range from a simple telephone adaptor or more sophisticated hardware for a big office network. Some systems are even so simple to install that you can do it yourself. It is important though to consult an expert when looking to install a VoIP system so you don’t waste money and you can utilize your equipment for many years to come.

Reliability

Since you rely on an Internet connection, you will be affected when there are power outages. Power interruptions don’t normally affect traditional phone lines because telephone companies have back-up generators. VoIP uses broadband modems and other equipment that require the use of electricity. To be on the safe side, ask your vendor about contingency plans when there’s a power outage.

Security

Inquire about encryption to protect your lines from eavesdroppers and to provide security for all your staff.

Caller ID

Caller ID availability varies by provider. Having this feature can be a waste at times because some providers allow a caller to make it appear as if they are calling from a different number. There are also equipment available that make it easy to modify caller ID information.

Emergency Calls

Emergency calls cannot be easily routed to a nearby help center because it cannot locate users geographically.

Costs

Business phone system costs have a wide range. Basically, the costs for the cabinet, wiring, installation and telephone units are all included in the fee. Other optional features such as music on-hold, CTI, etc. are also usually included in the monthly service fee.

 

Different types of business telephone systems have different price averages. Adding extra features and the number of employees that require a line can add to the overall cost.

 

Average Costs

 

The average cost of a system is usually based on the total cost per user. Here is a quick rundown.

 

Key-Systems

 

These systems can cost anywhere between £200 to £600 per employee. This also depends on the features that you need.

 

KSU-less

 

This type is usually the least expensive among the systems available in the market. Your only actual costs are the phones themselves plus setup and installation. This type can cost anywhere from £60 to £150 per phone. You should also consider your time and maintenance plus any additional wiring.

 

PBX

 

This type starts at £500 per employee. The average price is £600 per employee. If you have 100 or more employees, the cost per employee is significantly reduced because of scaling. That is why this is used by most large businesses.

 

VoIP

 

This is a very popular system because of its cost. It is comparable to KSU-less systems. As a matter of fact, many KSU-less systems can be used for a business Internet phone system. However, you need a router so this increases your one-time cost a little. It costs £60 to £150 on average.

 

Factors that affect the cost of your chosen business telephone system

 

Here are some things that can affect the total cost of your system.

 

Installation

 

In many cases, installation costs are the same price as the entire telephone system. Key and PBX systems require a complex setup so you really don’t have a choice if you are installing either system. Expect a hefty sum for installation and wiring. If your current wiring is incompatible or is inadequate for your new business phone system, you will be charged and extra fee for wire replacement.

 

Maintenance

Maintenance fees are usually already included in the quoted price but if you want some extra perks, you may likely be charged more. If you fear high costs associated with phone system problems, better ask your vendor for a good maintenance plan.

 

Cabinet

 

This is where everything happens. This is the central operations unit for your entire telephone system so it is no surprise that it is also expensive. It can run anywhere from £600 to £6000. The price depends on the size and complexity of the system that you need. This is a significant part of your overall cost.

 

Telephones

 

The telephones themselves are another factor. Panasonic units are usually more expensive than the ones from Samsung, NEC, Linksys and AT&T. A phone’s price depends on its features and functionalities. A phone that is capable of a loud speaker, hold, hands-free, etc. is more expensive.

 

However, if you don’t need these high end phones, you can buy cheap phones in bulk for less than £60.

 

Features and other Functionalities

 

Your phone system comes with basic features. If you need more, they cost extra. Music on-hold, voicemail and computer telephone integration are some of these extra features. Remember, they cost money. If you have a limited cash flow, take some time to really think about whether you can utilize a feature fully now and in the future. Make sure that a feature will help you on your ROI.

 

Some vendors offer a free trial period. Take advantage of this so you can test a feature out and determine whether it is useful for your company or not. Most of the time, the features included in a phone system are enough for a small company. Also, many features that were once only available to large companies are now available to small businesses at a fraction of the cost. These features can make your company more impressive and more professional in the eyes of your clients.