For many organisations, the contact or call centre is still the shopfront of the business.
At last count, there were 6,175 contact centres in the UK, employing some 772,500 agents. As the first port of call for clients and customers, the role of call agents shouldn’t be underestimated.
You might be the first person a caller has ever spoken to from a business; you might even be the first person that a caller has spoken to in weeks. Establishing a positive customer relationship from that first moment of contact is essential; impressions are often made quickly and can have a lasting impact.
With the internet now being so accessible, customers are more inclined to be vocal about a bad experience. Negative reviews can spread like wildfire on social media and the last thing a company wants is their organisation bad-mouthed in public.
Call North West is an organisation that supports contact centres in the region and each year they award stand-out people and companies for their contribution to customer service. I was proud recently to be named Sales Agent of the Year at their annual awards ceremony in Manchester. When new recruits name you as the agent they aspire to be, you know you must be doing something right!
I have worked for Freedom Finance, a fintech lending platform that matches consumers to suitable loans and mortgages, for over three years. Like other financial service providers, we strive to provide excellent customer service and have managed to excel in this area, with a top Trust Pilot rating. The business has achieved this all whilst operating on an almost fully digital model, with 872,000 amount of customer journeys currently completed online over the last rolling 12 months.
Where does that trust stem from? It starts with the people in the contact centre. Collectively, we strongly believe that customers need clarity and not just choice – sometimes the best way to accomplish this is through the help of an actual person, whether that’s on the end of the telephone line, or through an online chat facility.
Being self-motivated has allowed me to exceed targets and step-up when extra support is needed on the floor. Whilst these are personal attributes, there are some simple and achievable steps that anyone working in a contact centre can take in their pursuit of an excellent customer outcome.
Here are my top three tips for delivering excellent customer service:
Tip 1: Your attitude
You have to wake up and be ready for the day before you even start. If your mindset isn’t right or you don’t have the right attitude, you’ve already failed, and you can’t give the customer your best.
Tip 2: Be patient
We speak to customers from all walks of life and every customer is different.
Some need more support than others, which could be anything from understanding the terms and conditions, to having someone verbally navigate them through the digital application process online. It’s these customers that sometimes matter the most. They require extra assistance and the human touch to help them make a properly informed decision.
Tip 3: Remember, it costs nothing to be nice
Your interaction could impact someone’s life. Even if you can’t provide the customer with the product or answer that they want, you can always be nice and friendly, and hopefully leave them happy with the service you have provided.