Customer Service with Excellence!
Are you a stickler about receiving top notch customer service? Do you routinely “come through” as a provider of exemplary services to your customers? Chances are you have been greatly disappointed at one time or another regarding the service you received from a salesperson, an internet hosting company, a hair colorist, or any one of thousands of different service providers. Frankly, customer service in many areas — retail, for one — isn’t what it used to be. However, where there is poor customer service there is also a great opportunity. Read on and I will explain.
Let’s say you are in a field that routinely provides so-so service to customers. It could be that customer expectations are low and no one expects top notch service. Maybe most customers are simply “price sensitive” and could care less about how fast or how well you deliver. However, you can bet that there are a percentage of customers out there who appreciate service that goes above and beyond the industry standard. These same customers typically will pay a little extra for service that really serves them. If you can tap into this customer base, you can create a niche, raise your prices, and make more money in the long run.
Depending on your industry, you could command a price premium of 10-25% over the average provider. That may not sound like a lot, but it could spell the difference between eating hamburger or eating steak. I don’t know about you, but I would prefer eating steak!
Naturally, providing a high level of customer service means you will have to break a sweat. You may have to happily redo [its all in the attitude, baby!] or improve on an existing project in order to satisfy a good paying customer. This is what sets you apart from the pack.
If you are satisfied with the “status quo” then that’s okay too. Just don’t expect to have customers beat down your doors for work. At least the better customers will not!
All call centers are not created equal. Whether your team is based on support, sales, or something else, you can cut costs and be more efficient with a cloud-based system. Keeping customers happy should be rule number one for all business owners, because poor customer service or poor support won’t bode well for anyone. Cloud-based support systems have all the tools you need to answer and route calls, create queues, and it even runs reports to see how your team is performing. How’s that for a silver lining?
Call center phone systems provide the needed tools that your team uses to keep your customers thrilled with your company. If your Customer Support team is the heart of your Customer Support operation, your call center phone system is the backbone. In this article, we will give you the key issues related to picking and implementing call center phone systems.
Call Center Phone Systems
Small businesses thrive or die based on how well they support their customers. In many cases that means providing phone support to help your customers get more out of your product. Also, you solve problems they may have encountered. While your standard phone system (either PBX or VoIP based) may give you the basics for that phone support, taking advantage of optimized call center phone systems can help you do it cheaper and provide higher levels of customer care.
Key Considerations of Call Center Phone Systems
Call Queues and Distribution
The more calls that come into your Customer Support team, the more likely you’re going to need to triage those calls. Your team needs to get the right calls to the people who are best able to handle the call. Also, you will want to minimize the wait time.
Good call center phone systems provide a queuing mechanism, so the first caller is taken by the first available agent. Calls can be routed according to rules you specify. For instance, your Customer Support team might be segmented by geography, so a given call should be forwarded directly to a particular agent based on the area code shown on caller ID. However, with the mobility of cell phones, this method isn’t perfect but will work the majority of the time, eliminating multiple waits for your customers.
A standard phone system knows when somebody is on the line. Call center phone systems determine whether a call should go to a given extension based on other factors, such as whether an agent is on break. An agent indicates that he is not available to take calls and a supervisor can see how many agents are currently available. They can rearrange the number of agents to take customer calls.
Key Metrics and Reports
The best way to improve your operation is to know what’s going on. In a call center, like in other areas, that means having metrics you can use to evaluate the situation. Call center phone systems have the ability to create reports around these metrics and can help your call center in several ways, including the best times to staff your call center and which agents are doing things better than others.
You should be able to analyze call volume, length of calls, staff’s resolution methods, and how the metrics change from agent to agent. This gives you good decision-making data and helps you start conversations with your agents. You can find out what makes the good agents good and help the poor performing agents get better. The reports provide justification in case you need to take action related to employees or contractors.
Call Monitoring and Barge-In
Sophisticated call centers have full-time supervisors or second tier support people. If this is your company, you will want your leadership to be able to monitor calls silently or even be able to barge-in when needed. Call center phone systems provide these capabilities. They give you more qualitative data than the metrics you typically see in reports. Also, they provide typical agents with help when they encounter rude customers or more difficult support situations. On many call center phone systems these features are an extra cost.
Connectivity is Key
If you use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, you will likely link your CRM system and your call center phone system. This will make it easier for you to mine your customers and prospects to better support callers. Call center phone systems allow you to integrate with your CRM system, whether it is a cloud-based CRM (i.e. Salesforce.com, Zoho, or Sugar) or a system that you operate in-house (i.e. Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Act!, or Microsoft Outlook).
The integration types differ. You might want your agents to click-to-dial outbound calls directly from your CRM or you might want your CRM system to pop-up a window with customer data every time a call comes in from that customer.
Don’t Forget the Basics
Call center phone systems offer many features you will want for your call center that are similar to those of your general company phone system.
You will want an interactive voice response (IVR) capability, known to many as auto-attendants or voice prompt system. Your callers can properly direct their calls without having to reach somebody on your staff. Many companies use robust IVR systems to provide automated answers to callers. This often means the callers get more prompt responses than waiting for an agent. The company can reduce the number of agents required at a given time.
If you don’t staff your call center 24/7, you will probably have your callers greeted by a different message(s) when it’s not open, so they will know how long to wait until it opens or when they should call back.
Most call center phone systems that record calls will also provide a message to tell callers they are being recorded. The ability to record calls will help you in your training efforts and in handling some caller situations.
Choosing Your Call Center Phone System
The actual call center phone system you need will depend on which of the functions mentioned above are appropriate for your particular business and methodologies. It may also be based, in part, whether your call center is for sales, support, or both.
Cloud-Based Call Center Phone Systems
We have selected Nextiva as the Best Cloud-Based Call Center Phone System based on the wide variety of call center functions the company provides with its service. Other cloud-based call center phone systems that can be used in customer support centers include RingCentral, ShoreTel Sky, and VocalCom.
Nextiva Call Center
- Provides key tools including queuing & call routing
- Allows reports to run your center and evaluate your team
- Interfaces with CRM and MS-Outlook