As a contact center agent, you can be the first and only contact point for customers seeking help, which is why maintaining a high level of etiquette is imperative. Today’s global public health crisis has created great levels of angst for customers. Many are dealing with issues that significantly affect their lives, such as canceled flights, shifts in medical coverage and a shortage of daily necessities. Effectively guiding these customers to a positive resolution must be a top priority for businesses.
To help you do this, we compiled a list of 10 tips for contact center etiquette excellence you should be aware of when interacting with customers trying to navigate today’s uncertainty.
1. Be courteous
Above everything else, always treat each caller with courtesy. If they’re taking the time to reach out, chances are they have a pressing issue they’re dealing with. Ask how they prefer to be addressed, make every attempt to pronounce their name correctly and use this name consistently. Be cheerful, remain calm and speak clearly. Wait for the person to finish speaking before speaking. These simple tips will go a long way in interacting with the caller in a positive and professional manner.
2. Be professional
While it may seem obvious, it’s important to always maintain a level of professionalism throughout the entire conversation. As a contact center agent, you are often acting as the face of your company. You should have access to adequate training and your manager should proactively help you with the tools and skills you need to consistently provide high-quality customer engagements.
3. Be respectful
All customers should be treated with respect. Throughout each conversation, you should remain calm, act rationally and treat the customer as if they were the company’s most valued asset. Respect also involves understanding the caller’s needs and making an effort to accommodate them. Make it essential to attempt to understand the causes of the customer’s problem, realize how their problem affects their behavior and respond with compassion.
4. Be honest
You should always strive to be honest with customers. Agents should never lie, guess or make up an answer. If the customer’s problem is beyond your competence level, politely proceed to the next best step to solve the issue — whether that’s using collaboration tools to silently consult with a subject matter expert, bridging in a peer or supervisor to actively participate in the call, or transferring the caller to a colleague who can better address their needs.
5. Be trustworthy
Building trust is essential, not only for the conversation to progress smoothly, but also to build a positive brand experience. Trust is based on ethical principles such as character and competence. It requires truthfulness, honesty, reliability, loyalty and integrity. Exhibiting these characteristics in your interactions with customers will ensure they leave the call feeling well taken care of.
6. Be confident
Confidence is critical for any productive interaction. To ensure you’re properly equipped to handle difficult situations, ask your manager to provide feedback based on your call recordings or to monitor your calls and provide active coaching. For further practical and technical skill development, seek additional training or certifications that expand your skillset and increase your aptitude. This will instill confidence. Your interactions will be more effective and the customer’s impression of the company will be more positive.
7. Be proactive
Successful agents demonstrate a certain level of competence when adequately addressing customers’ needs. When the customer’s demands are too high, don’t hesitate to bridge in someone with more experience who can effectively handle their issue or concern.
8. Be interested
Take a genuine interest in the customer’s questions or concerns. This will make the process more enjoyable for both you and the customer. Contact center work can get monotonous; keep it fresh by taking a genuine interest in each caller’s unique situation, asking personal questions and attempting to connect with the customer.
9. Be neutral
Do your best not to offer opinions or introduce your own biases into the conversation. Always take a neutral stance on issues, but empathize with the customer’s needs. Taking a neutral stance will help you be more effective and efficient when solving problems.
10. Be flexible
You should anticipate the unexpected and be flexible enough to change course when necessary. Sometimes pertinent information will be obtained, whether from the customer or a cross-functional internal stakeholder, that requires you to follow a new path to solve the problem at hand. Remain flexible, welcome the change and keep the customer informed of how you’re navigating the new situation and working your way towards a resolution.
Providing quality service to each customer should be the priority of every call center agent. Every positive interaction a customer has with a company — especially in times like these — can give them increased confidence in the brand and turn them into a loyal customer and evangelist. Adopt these tips today and incorporate them into the conversations you have with customers. You’ll see the benefits well into the future.