7 Rules to Get the Best Outcome from a Customer Call Centre
Time, money and frustration – it’s the unholy trinity of everything that can go wrong when you’re trying to sort out a customer service issue. If you’ve ever been given the runaround by a customer helpline or services department or had your time wasted by a company claiming that every call is important to them, you will know exactly how it feels.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Believe it or not, companies will actually go a very long way to help with your query and, ultimately, keep your custom. Customer service agents will have received specific call handling training to resolve a vast range of issues and complaints – it’s just that they don’t always get it right, being human.
This is where you come in. With a little bit of insight about how call centres work and a thorough understanding of 7 simple rules, you can turn any telephone conversation into a positive outcome.
1. Speak to a Real Person
Many companies are now introducing automated services to deal with certain customer service issues. Clearly, no discussion is possible at all if you’re speaking to a machine, so Rule #1: make sure you’re put through to a real person.
Better still, speak to the right person. Of course, this is easier said than done as you may not know exactly who the right person to deal with your particular query or complaint might be, or even their department. A good way is to google the company first to get some idea of where you should start, or even ask an ‘online chat’ agent to point you in the right direction.
2. Choose the Best Time for Your Call
No-one wants to get stuck in a queue for ages – it only serves to waste your time and build frustration – so it makes sense to call at a time when call volumes are lowest and queues are shortest. According to recent studies, the best time to call is 9-11am Tuesdays to Thursdays, since most people call Mondays, Fridays or the weekend, and usually in the afternoon or evening. Avoid calling after 5pm if you can.
Calling early in the day also means less frazzled call centre operators. They’re fresh to the working day and not yet worn down by hours of dealing with irate customers. That’s worth knowing.
3. Do Your Homework
Before you pick up the phone, make sure you have all the information and documentation ready for your call. This includes customer account details, reference numbers, order/deliver/return dates, product serial numbers, as well as details about who you’ve already spoken to and when. Having everything to hand will make it much quicker to get to the point.
Also double check the company’s policies (guarantees, return policies, customer charter, etc) and your customer rights, so that you can argue from a position of strength, rather than having to take the call agent’s word for it.
4. Be Friendly and Polite
You may feel like screaming down the phone but do remember that whatever your problem is, it’s not the call agent’s fault – and shooting the messenger will get you nowhere. In fact, how you treat that person will have a huge impact on how much they will want to assist you, or whether they’ll want to get rid of you in short order.
Try a charm offensive and get the call centre operator on side. Talk to them nicely, ask about their day, their location, the weather – anything to lighten the mood and set the scene for a positive conversation. That way, you won’t be treated like yet another grumpy customer; you’ll be seen as a nice person with a genuine problems that needs resolving.
5. Hang up and Call Again
If you don’t feel you’ve created the right rapport with your call handler or you’re just not getting anywhere, here’s a tip: put the phone down and call again. Chances are you’ll be speaking to another operator who may be more on your wavelength.
Especially in large call centres, there’s a wide difference in experience and knowledge, not to mention all types of personalities, among the people who work there. Your first operator may have had a bad day, or be new to the job. Speak to someone different and you may well get a different outcome.
6. Speak to a Manager
If you are not making progress despite your best endeavours, or you are unhappy with what you’re being told, don’t be afraid to ask to speak to a supervisor. Someone higher up the chain of command will have better knowledge, more time to deal with your query and greater authority to make decisions.
If this still doesn’t resolve the issue or you feel you’re being treated badly, write to the CEO personally. Tell him/her the whole story of how your problem started and all the frustrations you have experienced and ask for it to be investigated.
Even better, you can use social media to call attention to your negative experience in the public domain. It’s surprising how effective a few pertinent tweets can be in terms of motivating the company to help their customers resolve an issue!
7. Suggest You Take Your Business Elsewhere
Finally, if all else fails, you may be tempted to close your account, or cancel the order, in any case cease trading with that particular company. If you suggest this to the call centre operator, you will be put through to an Account Closures department, which is actually tasked with the important business of customer retention.
You’ll be amazed at how quickly the attitude will change from ‘no can do’ to ‘3 bags full, Sir’. As the company tries hard not to lose your business, this is the department that has the authority to offer you generous discounts, full refunds and compensation payments for your inconvenience – if only you’ll agree to stay with them.