Communication is the key for every successful business. Customer demands and needs are evolving and as providers of service we need to adapt to satisfy expectations. An area we look at with our clients is premier communication, not just answering questions and ticking boxes but providing the best service possible. Below we highlight some of the points from our internal training which are important in ensuring communication is the very best it can be.
Customers and partners need to know how to communicate and many have preferences on how they like to interact. One of the strangest things we hear is when contact centres pick up a phone to advise they don’t deal with phone calls or only dedicate a set amount of hours to handling phone calls. What is the point of having callers in a queue waiting to be told this information? It is a good idea to state contact information, state the suitable times to use the different methods and when a response can be expected to an email or letter. So many contact centres actually create their own traffic and backlog because this information isn’t on websites, Google and social media pages, so people have to chase simply to ask for this information in the hope of learning when they might get a response. If contact centres choose not to deal with telephone calls, a simple recorded message providing an email address is less frustrating than having a barrier put up by a handler picking up the telephone to state their telephone is simply an accessory on their desk which they do not use to talk.
Pick up the phone
Sometimes a failure in providing customer service is immediately going to email or letter, a contact may have written in and included a telephone number to provide an answer or discuss the matter they are writing in connection with. We may need some information and have a telephone number on the system, a quick call to obtain extra details can dramatically reduce the time to write, deliver, read and respond. Even though we have amazing tools available such as email, it can cause huge delays in handling communication efficiently. Creating backlogs while email tennis is played is simply going to snowball to a bigger problem of catching up and managing written communications. We always encourage our handlers to pick up the phone to get information, answer questions and discuss issues to overcome them instantly to make the greatest progress.
Deal with it
Similarly to the above points, when a communication is received it is just so much more effective to actually deal with it there and then. Why ask someone to write in? Why suggest they call another number if we can place them on hold to get an instant answer for them or transfer them. Yes it may save a few minutes personally by batting the ball away; however it creates a bad customer experience and creates more work for the teams you are part of. Dealing with issues and queries instantly reduces the need to escalate, gives a great impression and shows the business is competent and efficient.
Give quality content
The communication we use needs to have quality content, phone calls need to be planned so the goal is set, what questions or issues may arise and where we can get information quickly in the event of those things happening. Emails and letters should be well written, opening with information about the purpose and referencing what the communication is in response to and in connection with. The body of the communication needs to be thorough, giving additional information such as persuasive (but positive) language and facts to support views or decisions. The closure should summarise what has been done, what will be done and what the reader needs to do or what their options may be. Including detailed contact information and advice in the closure will give them a way to respond if necessary.
Empathise and view it from another angle
Sometimes especially in complaint situations, businesses and the people representing the business can become defensive about comments or people’s feelings about the service or policies in place. It can feel so easy putting up a barrier by stating rules or shrugging off any feedback which we feel isn’t our fault. But, is that really helpful or resolving the confusion? Asking questions and trying to understand can sometimes be a valuable tool to explain things better. Justify why we cannot change the rules and on some occasions collect feedback to improve the way the business approaches or deals with areas which frequently frustrate customers. Empathising and understanding someone else viewpoint isn’t accepting responsibility or showing weakness, it is showing the workforce is compassionate, the business cares about the service they provide and their customer.
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