If you’re to talk about a call center and its main purpose, the answer would be fairly simple and obvious. Any company has its own share of customers who would need help with something every once in a while. For example, an ecommerce company might be needing help with the billing or shipping. In that case, the company usually appoints a call center that provides contact center software solutions.
The call center deals with the doubts and queries of each customer and strives to find solutions to them. Now the reputation of a call center, and most importantly the company, depends largely on the efficiency of the contact center. A good customer care system will help you score points with the customer. It is as simple as that.
At any call centre, there is teamwork at play. The success of a call center is basically due to the collaboration between various teams. Firstly, there are the agents who directly communicate with the customers.
When the customer makes a call to the call center, he or she speaks to the agent who is available at that moment. Each agent is handed the best contact center software to ensure that the customers get nothing but the best. There is usually a call center manager or supervisor whose duty is to supervise and monitor the performance of all these agents.
It might sound pretty easy, but being an agent at a call center is quite complicated. Each agent carries the burden of pleasing the customer and improving the sales on his or her shoulders. It’s not just about answering phone calls; there is much more to a call center agent than that.
Before they deal with the customers, all agents are given thorough training which guides them as to how to go about it. An outstanding call center agent will always put the customer first. When it comes to being the very best call center agents, there are a few things that you must keep in mind. Here’s all you need to know about being an agent at a call center –
Few Personality Traits of Call Center Agents
• When a customer is calling you up for help, you need to be empathetic. See how we say empathy and not sympathy? That’s because no customer wants you to feel sorry for them. As an agent, it is important for you to acknowledge the issue of the customer and express your empathy for their situation. You need to put yourself in their shoes and really understand what they’re going through. If they have certain complaints against your products or your services, you apologize to them and assure them that you’re going to look into it.
• As an agent, you must have sufficient amount of self confidence. It doesn’t matter how big an issue your customers present you with. As long as you’re confident, your customers are going to leave satisfied. Because remember, confidence can be projected. If you’re confident about how to use your tools including your outbound contact center software solutions, and, also how to explain your services and solutions, then that is projected on to your customers as well. If they’re facing issues, all they really want to know is that the problem will be looked into. It is your responsibility to make sure your customers have faith in your services.
• Patience is key when you’re dealing with your customers. More often than not, your customers are going to be pretty upset and flustered when they call you up. They might even be furious. As an agent, you should attempt to understand the source of their frustration and deal with it in a manner that’s befitting. Having grasped the tone of the customer, you should give them a chance to explain themselves and try to get to the bottom of it. You should never try to rush the customer interactions. That makes the customer feel unwanted and insignificant.
• As an agent at a call center, you should make it a point to be personable and friendly. When the customer calls you up, they expect a friendly voice. The human touch is what every customer looks for. You should always come across as being ready to help. If you sound even a tad bit uninterested or indifferent, your customers are going to be able to sense that. Be sure to get trained in handling your contact center management software, this is something you need to keep in mind. Use their name, address their issue and acknowledge it.
• Well, if you’re talking about the call center, then its efficiency is directly related to the agent. It is entirely the responsibility of the agent to make sure that all your work is wrapped up efficiently. You’re expected to come up with solutions to customer’s problem in no time, handle the customer contact center software effectively, wrap up your after call work, update the system quickly and so on and so forth. All of these are considered to be a part of the effective operations of the call center.
Things To Keep In Mind If You’re A Call Center Agent
• You need to have solid knowledge base when it comes to handling customers and even other aspects such as the contact center CRM software. When your customers are calling you up, they expect experienced and trained agents to help them out. No matter what questions they may have or what doubts they want to clarify, you should have a solid knowledge of anything related to the issue. It also helps if you have a CRM database which gives you streamlined access to all the relevant data regarding a particular customer.
• You also need to be proactive when it comes to handling customers. Even before you provide your solutions, you’ll know where the conversation is heading. In that case, you should take adequate measures. For example, you could offer them certain discounts or offers to pacify them. That would win the customers over and leave a lasting impression. Moreover, if you think that the call would be taking too much time, you could request a callback or even add some incentives. That would show the customers that you actually care about them and are not indifferent.
• Gratitude is always appreciated when it comes to talking to customers. Your customers expect you to be polite and courteous at all times. That means you need to work on your gratitude and showing it. Even if you feel that your customers are being rude or impatient and the customer interactions didn’t go the way you wanted them to, even then you need to put on your best behaviour. When you’re being trained for this, your trainers will definitely stress on the importance of thanking your customers and ending the call with greetings.
• When you’re dealing with customers, you need to be strategic. It might so happen that a customer comes up with a problem that you don’t have solutions to. Or you might even face troubles while handling the contact center software. In that case, you might be required to consult your superiors or even members of other teams. Thus, the call might take you longer than you anticipated. But of course, you can’t let the customer catch on that you’re in a pickle. In such instances, you need to be strategic and handle the customer cautiously. Reassure them by saying that you’re working on their issue and that you’ll get back to them as soon as you’re done.
• As call center agents, you need to have impeccable communication skills. While most of this is an inborn talent, you can always work on them and improve them. You need to be articulate in both oratory and writing. While speaking to the customer, you should be able to get the point across. Also, you need to work on your grammar and make sure you’re not making any grammatical errors while speaking or writing. Plus, you shouldn’t stutter or pause numerous times while speaking. It just shows the customer that you’re nervous and not confident.
How To Be The Best Call Center Agent?
• Remain calm under pressure. In the arena of call centres, you’re going to have days when the workload seems never-ending. All agents are going to be overworked and exhausted. In such high pressure situations, you cannot afford to fly off the handle. That would only make matters worse. You need to grind on and keep at it till the customers are satisfied. Or even, you may encounter several difficulties while handling a particular customer. When giving up isn’t an option, you’re going to have to find a way around it.
• The work of a call center agent can be monotonous. You have to deal with the same things everyday including tools like your software for contact center and high-pressure targets. Although you encounter different customers, the type of problems usually remain the same- the same problems, but the solutions aren’t ever the same. Here lies the catch. You’re going to have to develop an eye for detail. It wouldn’t help if you were to generalize the problems. You should be able to spot what makes each case unique and focus on that.
• While working at your call centre, you’re going to have to be extremely organized. That’s because you have to deal with numerous tasks at the same time. Juggling different customers and different tasks can be tough if you aren’t adept at multitasking or if you work in a haphazard manner. You need to chalk out your day before it starts and plan your tasks for the day. You need to have a clear idea of what is expected of you and work towards it. Working in an organized manner is the only way to improve your productivity.
• This is an important trait in every agent. They must be flexible and versatile. When you’re dealing with some hundred customers each day, you’re going to be talking to people with varying personalities. Not all of them are going to be nice and polite. They might be challenging and tough to handle. In that case, you’re the one who’s going to have to adjust. That’s why, the agents you hire should be able to just go with it and should be easy going. They should have a flexible personality that adjusts to any kind of customer.
• As agents, you need to be both creative and also work at a rapid speed. Customers are always looking for agents who are ready to go the extra mile for them. You should be able to delve into the depths of the problem and come up with a solution that is both innovative and creative. You should also be able to do this in the least possible time. Working at a rapid speed also means that you should be able to finish your after call work in half the time than other agents. That would free you up to assist other customers. And of course, more the number of customers you handle more are your customer satisfaction rate.
The Case Study
We know how important your call center is to you. We also know that you are trying your best when it comes to getting the best agents for yourself. The above mentioned tips and pointers tell you exactly what an agent at a call center should do or not do. They tell you what the requisite personality traits of an agent should be. However, to understand why you need outstanding agents, you need a case study. That’s why we have provided you with a detailed case study of the Indian ecommerce giant, Flipkart, a name most of you must be familiar with.
Flipkart went live in 2007 under the capable leadership of Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal. It initially started out with one goal- to make purchasing books easier for bibliophiles in different cities of India. What started out as simply an online seller of books is today one of the largest ecommerce sites in India. Today, they sell more than a hundred different categories of goods and items. From apparel to accessories, from books to electronics, Flipkart has it all. At present, Flipkart has over a few million customers.
With so many customers, it was imperative for Flipkart to come up with an efficient customer care system that would be at the customers’ beck and call. If you come to think of it, Flipkart’s unimaginable and unanticipated success has largely been because of its customer care.
The Final Outcome
Soon after being launched into the market, Flipkart realized the importance of an efficient customer care system. Mainly because, an ecommerce company was still a new concept in India. People were still unaccustomed to buying things online, even books! Naturally, they were bombarded with hundreds of calls each day about different doubts and queries. Consequently, Flipkart made the wise decision of hiring some of the best contact center agents. By making them a part of the operations, Flipkart improved their customer care by a huge margin. You can see the results for yourself today. Seldom will you come across customers of Flipkart who have left with a bitter taste in their mouth after their experience with a customer care executive.
It is not just Flipkart; most of the large companies around the world have a stringent screening process when it comes to hiring agents for call centers. If you’re planning to hire, or if you have just stepped into the field, these tips could come in handy!