Technology has changed the way customers interact. Queries can now be answered online through a business website, chatbox, or email. However, this doesn’t eliminate the preference for real-time support across all contact channels, including calls. The nature of customer service calls remains the same; therefore, effective call handling is still a relevant strategy to employ in any business.
The conversations your team has with customers, from your call answering service to your cloud services or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), will represent the personality of your business. A good conversation with customers is essential; it improves relationships, which, in turn, strengthens a business. All these can be achieved through a solid foundation of call handling skills—beyond simply answering the phone.
Improve Your Call Handling with the Following Tips
This article serves as your refresher on call handling, whether you have a customer service team or outsource a call handling service. These tips will teach you how to properly train your customer support agents in solving issues and managing the queue of people wanting to get a hold of your business.
1. Have a CRM system in place.
To drive customer satisfaction with timely responses to customer queries, consider incorporating a customer relationship management (CRM) system into your business. CRM refers to the combination of practices, strategies, and technologies that help manage and analyse interactions and data throughout the customer life cycle.
CRM systems can give your support teams detailed information on a customer’s personal information, purchase history, buying preferences, and concerns. This helps make outbound calls faster, answer queries precisely, and increase the reach to your prospect audience.
In addition, happy clients are willing to give feedback that can be recorded through the system; then, representatives can take accurate and detailed notes while providing superior services.
2. Qualify the caller.
This step involves gathering data that qualifies the caller as a lead—a prospect considered part of your target audience. First, discuss with your marketing team what defines a sales qualified lead (SQL) and identify who the lead will be in the buying process. Once you have determined the leads, you can focus on finding out what problems they face and how your product or service can solve those problems.
Your representatives should act more as advocates during the call than a salesperson, so customers are more likely to trust them. Discussing three to four of a customer’s problems in an initial call can result in an over 80% sales success rate. From there, your agents can take control of the conversation with confidence to lead customers through a successful transaction.
3. Listen patiently and build rapport.
Your representatives should know the value of listening carefully to your prospects. Being highly aware of customer tone and attitude will help them know when to change their selling behaviour accordingly. For example, if a customer is impatient or in a rush, agents should go straight to the point with their pitch.
Beyond selling products or services, highly skilled agents sell relationships. Each agent must act as a virtual receptionist with a warm and welcoming attitude towards each caller. Train your team on building an alliance with a prospect when finding solutions to their problems. Being able to build trust is the best avenue towards a successful sale. Agents should be courteous and never speak in a rushed voice.
4. Keep calm and carry on.
Although customer service reps should keep emotions at bay during a call, this is easier said than done. Emotions can run high, especially when they encounter an irate prospect. It’s vital to acknowledge that such emotions are part of human nature. But it is also human nature to feel empathy—and your representatives should be prepared to use it.
Your reps should know not to take outbursts personally, stay confident, and use calm speech to soothe upset customers. Train them to be unafraid to ask questions and make statements such as, “Let me make sure I’m interpreting you correctly” to clarify a customer’s point of view. Reps must also hold back judgment and communicate genuine concern and a desire to help.
5. Resolve multiple issues with a systematic approach.
During calls, haste makes waste. Having detail-oriented customer service reps who don’t try to juggle multiple issues at once can go a long way for your business. These people ensure that they get to the heart of a problem before sending a reply to the customer. They also guarantee to give solutions that don’t miss the mark in solving the issue.
Your reps must always craft a thoroughly researched response that aims to solve the customer’s problem. Once delivered, they should ask customers if they truly understand what is being said about each product. When they confirm, your rep can summarise the call with key points about everything discussed.
Don’t forget to follow up with an impressive spiel about how the agent remembered the customer’s issue and have now fixed it. All these make up a systematic approach that can earn you a loyal customer.
6. Practice consistency.
Customers expect the same kind of quality with every call, whether their query is received via telephone answering service or a live agent. Ensure your reps answer calls concisely and warmly every time. Through this, your customers will feel comfortable and are more likely to do business with you repeatedly. Build long-term relationships by emphasising their value before and after a sale.
Communicate with your customers at every point in the journey. Effective, straightforward, and period communication is key. Develop and employ strategies for different areas of communications, whether through website or call. By consistently offering high-quality customer service, you’re strengthening a potentially long-term relationship with your customers.
7. Leave calls on a positive note.
Ending calls professionally and on a positive note offers a better chance of repeat business. Before any closing statement, ensure your reps ask if they can do anything else for your customer. A simple, “Will that be all for today?” can give the customer a chance to add more to their purchase. If they’re inquiring about an out-of-stock product, offer an alternative to show that you have more to offer.
Even when addressing complaints, ensure a better experience by offering discounts or replacement items. Summarise calls by reminding customers of anything that was achieved and what the next steps will be. If the call lasts too long or the customer is in a hurry, suggest communicating through email or website.
Good Call Handling, Great First Impressions
The importance of customer service has been emphasised in business countless times. It’s the first experience your customer will have when they get in touch with your business. The first call will be the most important because it can make or break customer relationships or loyalty. So, you want to ensure that your customers feel valued at every point of communication.
Good call handling skills can make the right first impression and help you deliver consistent and highly efficient support at the right time. This first impression is crucial if you want to strengthen your reputation and encourage customers to refer you to others. Therefore, the first call must comprise outstanding call handling skills that embody preparedness, politeness, patience, and professionalism—all of which positively impact your bottom line.
If you’re looking to incorporate these in your business strategy, consider a call answering service provider that puts practical call handling skills at the forefront of their mind. Planet Numbers UK offers a wide selection of phone services and technology for your business needs.