Imagine that you call a company about a recently purchased service subscription. When you can’t solve the activation problems on your own, you decide to call the 800 customer service phone number. The answering message greets you with a welcome and then states “Your call is important to us. Please hold.” After waiting on hold for more than 10 minutes, you are connected with a customer service agent. That agent doesn’t know how to solve your problem and transfers you to another department. Your on-hold time starts all over again. Once you repeat all of your information and problem history again to the new agent, you are suddenly disconnected from the call.
If you are a business owner, this scenario makes you cringe. But, sadly, it’s an all too familiar customer service experience. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be the norm for your organization. There are ways to improve the number of times you are able to solve a customer’s problem or complaint on the first try. This is often referred to as “first call resolution”.
If you want to project a better image to your customers, and have them feel better about your product and business, try implementing these techniques:
- Listen to the customer. Half the battle is making sure that the customer is heard and understood. Train customer service representatives to use active listening and recap techniques to ensure they’re getting to the root of the problem.
- Empower customer service representatives. By making sure your team knows the product (or service) inside and out, they can ask questions and make decisions without resorting to scripted responses. Also, cross-training agents can also be useful. The more authority that one agent has to act without transferring the caller, the quicker the problem can be resolved. Finally, make sure that there are not organizational barriers in policy that put up stumbling blocks for team members to take action. For instance, if all refund requests must be sent to Sally in Accounting, even if they are routine, there is an additional step that can cause additional hassle for both the caller and your organization.
- Encourage prompt and high quality service. Make good customer service an expectation for each team member and engrain it into the company culture. Having good habits and service rewarded will help not only your agents, but also each of the customers with which they interact.
- Simplify the process. In other words, make your business processes sound. If you have a call routing system, make sure that instead of just telling customers their time is valued, provide adequate coverage to handle the call volume. You can also help empower customers. If a caller is reaching out to solve a frequently asked question, you can direct the call appropriately from the greeting and provide a recorded answer. Or, add a FAQ section to your website and help reduce the need for a customer to call with routine questions.
The majority of customers stop buying from a company when they don’t think you care about them! David Bater states, “Resolving a customer complaint quickly and efficiently will save 95% of the customers who complain. Just listening to a customer’s complaint will salvage more than 50% of them!” With so much riding on how your customers are treated, implementing the tips above could make a very meaningful difference to your bottom line.
What techniques are your favorite for first call resolution? Have these techniques help retain your customers? Do you have any tips to add?