Choosing the Right Call Center: the Devil is in the Details
Choosing the right call center for your inbound or outbound support can be overwhelming. There are many options to choose from, so where do you begin? While you may already have put some thought into choices such as onshore vs. offshore, adherence to auditing requirements, goals and budget, there are some details that can easily be overlooked. Knowing how your call center handles the all-important details and nuances of your campaign can be the difference between so-so results and great results. Below I cover five hard-learned lessons from my own experience working with telemarketing vendors, hoping these may help you choose the call center services that best meet your needs and provide great results.
1. Slow is Fast, and Fast is Slow.
Have you ever listened to a nervous public speaker? You can tell right away, because their voice becomes high-pitched and they tend to rush through their speech, skipping words and providing little inflection. It is also uncomfortable to listen to, and difficult to understand what is being said. As a circulation director I often listen in to live calls with our telemarketing vendors. The purpose is to better understand how calls are being handled, ensure required questions are being asked, and provide feedback for improvement. The agents with less experience and lower productivity generally spoke faster and in a higher pitch–losing the interest of the caller.
Agents who speak too quickly might be the biggest hindrance to your campaign productivity. At Farran Media Services, we work with our agents, training them to speak slow and low. By focusing on this technique, we attain higher productivity, successfully collect and update more data, and ensure your customers are left with a positive brand experience. Fast is slow, and slow is fast. It may seem counterintuitive, but it works!
2. Listen, and Then Listen Some More.
It’s easy to get a campaign rolling, and then become complacent about how the calls are being handled as the weeks go on. You just expect everything to be going well, and don’t even think twice until … you receive a complaint. Don’t get complacent; listen at the beginning, middle, and end of your campaigns. Ensure your call center service provider gives you access to call reports and the ability to listen to calls yourself. You can’t improve results without observing all steps and aspects of your campaign.
3. Incentive: Friend or Foe?
Incentives are good, right? They encourage us to work harder, go the extra mile and all those good things. But we have all heard the platitude, “Everything in moderation.” There is often a fine line between incentives that encourage good behavior; and those that encourage what some might consider to be bad behavior.
In my experience working with call centers, I’ve come to find that often agents will receive an incentive for obtaining information like email addresses, newsletter opt-ins, cross-promotional subscriptions, and the like. Often the vendor charges the publisher extra for each email address or e-newsletter opt-in they receive. And, of course, we want the additional contact information and opt-ins, BUT the extra incentive may be leading agents to use high-pressure tactics and possibly leave your customers with a bad taste in their mouths. Always remember: The customer believes they are speaking with your staff! So be very careful to communicate how you want these questions handled with your call center rep. Look at how you are crafting your script so the customer first understands the benefits of your email offerings, and then request the email address and offer the opt-ins.
4. Empathy + Helpfulness = a Positive Brand Impression
It’s important for agents to remember that no one is sitting around waiting for their call. Just like you, customers are busy and the last thing they want is another interruption. First and foremost, agents should acknowledge this! When a customer says they are busy, agents should be empowered to empathize with them and let them know they will be very quick–but still remember not to rush. It’s also important for agents to keep in mind that they are calling to help to the customer. Using phrases like “very quickly, because I know you are busy” and “it’ll only take a few moments” helps to convey that you understand how important customers’ time is, and that you are there to help them get back to their day quickly.
Secondly, be sure your script is crafted in such a way that agents can streamline it as needed–using their best judgment to determine when to ask every question, and when to ask only required questions. The most important information should be confirmed first: Be sure they get the renewal request, state the call is being recorded, and verify all the required data. After that, if the customer seems receptive, agents can ask any additional questions and attempt to gain the non-required information on the call. Agents who are able to convey empathy and understanding are much more likely to keep the customer on the phone, complete the renewal or survey, and leave your customer with a positive brand impression.
5. How Long Would Your Customers Hold?
How many rings are your customers likely to hear before someone answers? How long will someone wait on hold before hanging up? Can they opt to receive a call back rather than wait? If they hang up, will they ever call back? How much potential revenue is lost to long hold times and abandoned calls? According to a research study published by RingCentral, placing customers on long holds runs the risk of increased negativity surrounding your brand, higher abandoned call rates, decreased likelihood of purchase, and more irritated customers.
The first step is to know your numbers. Make sure you can track the number of calls you receive and how they are handled, and keep an eye on those stats. How long are your average hold times? How many callers hang up or abandon the call before they speak to a live person? Are there days and times when you often have more calls than your staff can handle?
Hopefully, I’ve been able to provide some valuable insight to aid in your search for the right call center services, and improve how you connect with and grow your audience! If you have any questions about the topics discussed in this blog or are interested in testing a campaign, complete the contact form or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will find the right solution for you.