Call center technology has advanced dramatically in the last several decades. With greater efficiency and a host of new telecommunication features, it would seem logical that call centers would be able to provide better customer service. Ironically, most would agree that the quality of service is on the decline.
To truly leverage the benefits of today’s amazingly efficient call center solutions, companies need to incorporate good old-fashioned service into their processes. This means valuing the customer’s time and finding new ways to personalize the service they receive.
Let’s take a closer look at five common frustrations that customers experience when dialing into a call center and what can be done to make improvements.
1. Confusing Phone System Menu Options
When calling to place an order or to get help with an issue, having to listen to a jumbled collection of prompts and options can be incredibly irritating. Who hasn’t scratched their head when they reach an auto-attendant greeting that begins with “Please listen carefully, as our menu options have recently changed”? Who remembers what the options were in the first place? Of course, there’s also the amazingly common, yet exasperating experience of being re-routed in circles within a phone system and never reaching the right person.
Phone system trees should be carefully reviewed on a regular basis for ease of use. Ideally, a customer should be able to reach the correct person without having to listen to prompts and choose menu options. Of course, this isn’t always possible. However, keeping menu options simple and straightforward can always be done and should be a primary goal of a call center.
By taking the time to evaluate your own phone system, you can learn valuable information about what your customer experiences. This includes the auto-attendant greeting, prompts, menu options, and voicemail messages. Are they clear and up to date? Do they make sense? Do they direct customers in the most efficient, quickest possible way? If not, changes need to be made. Don’t overestimate your callers’ level of patience. If they can’t reach who they want in a matter of seconds, they may take their business elsewhere.
2. Extended Hold Times
The term “eternal hold” has become a popular word in today’s lexicon. If customers get bristly about navigating through complicated phone systems, they get downright irate over having to wait on hold indefinitely. The increasingly common extended hold times that many of us deal with when calling insurance providers, tech support lines, and government agencies clearly communicate a lack of respect for callers’ time.
All call centers have busy times. However, if customers are on hold consistently for more than five minutes, you may have a staffing problem or another organizational issue that needs to be addressed. In many cases, call back software can make a big difference by giving callers the option of receiving a call back when it’s convenient for them as opposed to simply waiting on hold.
3. Unskilled, Uninformed Service Representatives
Another top ranking customer frustration is having to deal with ineffective service representatives. This can take a variety of forms. There’s the problem of customer information not being effectively used by representatives, causing callers to have to repeat their issues over and over again. There are also those cringingly poor representatives who aren’t trained or don’t have the authority to do anything more than read from scripts.
Ongoing training of service representatives is a must for any call center. Finding a solution that enables representatives to quickly obtain and decipher customer information is also a necessity.
4. Poor Sound Quality
Cloud-based VoIP phone systems offer many benefits. However, they are notorious for delivering less than optimal sound quality. Poor, jittery sounding audio and latency issues are common.
Fortunately, most of these problems can be resolved. Simple solutions such as obtaining a dedicated VoIP router, an improved Internet connection, and a jitter buffer can minimize distortions, delays, and other audio problems.
5. Dropped Calls and System Failures
There is no faster way to lose a customer than to have a phone system that is disconnecting or not working at all. Customers don’t appreciate being hung up on, especially if they’ve already waited on hold and/or have been transferred to multiple representatives. This is unacceptable service by anyone’s standards.
It’s important for service representatives to report when they receive complaints from customers about disconnections. As well, customer service email accounts and social media sites should be regularly monitored for customer comments related to phone problems. These issues need to be reviewed immediately to determine the cause. If there is a recurrent problem with a phone system or Internet provider, it’s time to find another service provider. No business can afford to lose customers due to dropped calls or system outages.
There are countless other frustrations that customers experience that could be added to this list. The reality is that managing a call center is challenging and complex. Today’s advanced call systems are only as good as those who are using them. By being dedicated to providing personalized, efficient service and smart about how technology is being used, companies can reduce frustrations and gain valuable customer loyalty.