Being a great customer service representative and fully satisfying the needs of the customer does take a little effort, something it seems only a few want to take the time to accomplish nowadays. As a whole, most people generally seem to have a cynical or even negative attitude towards the customer service field due to what has become a jokingly common occurrence. I wish to mainly look at some of the major telephone issues people experience and have almost come to expect (I know I have).
In previous postings I have touched on the issue of telephone support and the hold time when dealing with customers. As a brief refresher, it is best practice to never leave a customer on hold for more than two minutes at a time without checking in and updating the customer on the status, even if just to tell them you are still awaiting or discussing the issue with others.
Instead of this, when calling for service, people often expect long hold times of either silence, or irritating repetitive music or the same commercials and “you are very important to us…” messages. This can be worse when calling a local retail outlet, as the “floor staff” tends to answer phones, but rarely seek out the person needed to handle the call, and so customers wait on dead air for what seems like forever.
Another major flaw in people’s service practices is in relaying the message/issue when transferring a call. Numerous times I have called a place, explained my full issue, and then they have identified who needs to handle that issue, and they transfer me. Did they relay the information to the person on the other end? Usually not. So now I have to explain the issue all over again. “Oh, wait, you need to have this taken care of by so and so, let me transfer you.” Does the information get transferred? Again, nope! So again I have to explain the situation. Frustrating - to say the least.
It is best practice procedure, when transferring the call, to make sure of two key things. One, ensure that someone answers on the other end before letting go of the call yourself. Second, pass along all information on the situation to the person on the other end, giving them a recap of the situation and your thoughts on the reason you are transferring to their department. They may tell YOU at that point that it needs to go to another department, allowing YOU to make a new transfer, and not send the customer into the world of bounce-around phone tag nightmares world.
Knowing your general customer base is a good idea when hiring phone representatives. If you company has a target customer demographic, then keep that in mind when hiring. Sometimes this is not always a clear cut case, and that can be understandable, but sometimes it is never considered. For instance, everyone jokes about computer tech support, because we have come to expect that on the other end of the line is going to be a foreigner with a very, very strong accent that we will never understand and we expect the worse before even picking up the phone.
If you are a manager, in charge of who fills the slots on the phones for providing service, and your company is located in the deep Southern states, but have a clientele that will be a large amount of non-Southerners (and vice versa for Northern state companies), it is best to seek to hire phone representatives that do not have a super strong regional accent. A general rule is to pay attention to how strong an accent is when assigning phone representatives in general, as it can be very frustrating for the caller if they have a hard time understanding the representative.
Companies really need to focus on putting their best foot forward and supplying their front-lines with the best representatives they can find. Customer service is the first thing the outside world encounters, and can be the make it or break it point for companies. Most companies focus on an internal system that best meets their own needs and can tend to forget about the key point to it all – the customer.