Archive for July, 2018

How to Overcome Language Barriers in the Call Center

Posted on: July 27th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

“Excuse me, do you speak English?” – is a typical opening sentence customer service agents often start their conversations with.

In today’s globalized world, businesses are constantly expanding into new geographies, while focusing on creating a solid online presence. As a result, call center operations have changed considerably in the last decade, with call centers now operating 24/7, and providing customer service to customers all around the world.

As multilingual customer service departments are on the rise, call center agents often find themselves experiencing language barriers with customers during phone conversations. Language barriers may be based on agents and customers speaking different languages, and can also result from differences in regional dialects and accents, and bad phone connections.

Experiencing language barriers can easily cause frustration on both the agents’ and customers’ side, while preventing call centers from providing accurate and efficient customer service to your clients. You may not think so but even one unhappy customer can harm your business’ reputation. In fact, a recent study has shown that 95% of customers tell at least one other person about bad customer experiences with a company.

So, if you’re lost in translation, make sure to check out our article and find out how you can efficiently overcome language barriers at the call center.  

Excuse me, it’s Greek to me!

First things first: the call center is not the place to dazzle customers with your “Shakespearean” vocabulary. Instead, always be clear about what you are trying to communicate and avoid using slang or culturally specific idioms.

Furthermore, during any conversation with customers with limited language skills, our best and safest advice is to keep your message clear and simple. If you want to quickly overcome language barriers, then try and choose simple words, phrases, as well as short sentences.  

In fact, whenever you sense there is a language barrier during a conversation, just simplify your message in order to make the communication more convenient to the customer. You’ll see it will make all the difference.

Talk slower, not louder!

Always bear in mind that speaking louder won’t help you deliver your message. People of a different language can just hear fine, so make sure not to raise your voice as it may give customers the impression that you are annoyed.

Instead, when it comes to communicating with a customer who has difficulties to speak your language, always make sure to slow down your speech. The key to overcoming language barriers lies in your attitude as well, so you’ll really need to try your best to accommodate your customers’ needs.

Another common mistake call center agents often commit when experiencing language barriers with customers is that they over-articulate their words. Your goal here, however, is to convey your message as clearly as possible, and not to act like an elementary school teacher.

Use omnichannel communication to overcome language barriers

Amongst other things, one major advantage of multichannel communication is that customers can now select from a number of channels – including phone, online forms, email, SMS and chat – to communicate with companies.

By offering multichannel communication, multilingual customer service departments allow their customers to contact their support teams on various channels. As a result, customers who have difficulties using phone-based support options due to language barriers are able to contact customer service via other channels, such as email or chat. In fact, this is a great opportunity to reduce the number of occasions when customers and agents face language barrier.

Don’t fall, however, into the mistake of transferring your customers between your channels. As we already mentioned in a previous article, customers easily get frustrated when they are transferred through several customer service channels while having to repeat information over and over again – especially if they are already experiencing language barriers with your customer service.

Instead, try and focus on channels your customers actually want to use. Always make sure that agents provide the same quality of customer service on each of your channels. 

Language barriers may result in awkward – and even negative – customer experiences, however, it’s definitely not impossible to overcome them. Follow our tips and allow your customers to finish customer service conversations happy and satisfied.

Call Center Disaster Recovery: How to Prepare for a Power Outage

Posted on: July 25th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

An unexpected power outage can present a nightmare scenario to any business that does not have a reliable call center disaster recovery plan in place.

You may not think so, but even a brief outage can cause major operational disruptions to organizations. A survey conducted by TIC has shown that even a single hour of power outage can cost businesses between 100,000 and 5 million dollars. Incredible, right?

As the main task of any call center is to communicate with its customers, if this communication is interrupted for any reason, for instance due to an unexpected power outage, then the call center will start losing revenue and generating costs – it’s as simple as that.  

Unfortunately, though, many call centers are still unprepared for business disruptions caused by power outages, and are unaware of the cost and impact such an event can have on their business operations.

That’s why we decided to write an article highlighting what you need to do in order to ensure your call center is prepared for unexpected power outages. Read on and make sure your call center is playing it safe.

 

Have a reliable call center disaster recovery plan

Remember our story about the power outage that suddenly shut down the business operations at our African partner? If they had a reliable call center disaster recovery plan in place, then perhaps the effect would not have been as great as it was.

Imagine your phone lines (or any other of your communication channels) suddenly go down for hours, days or even weeks. Without doubt, you would lose hundreds or thousands of calls, as well as a potentially high volume of sales and revenue.

And that’s only the beginning. As well as losing revenue, an unexpected power outage could also cause your call center to lose its databases and other supporting information systems that usually contain a huge amount of valuable (and even confidential) data.

As a result of any of the above, your call center’s reputation would likely be badly affected, and there’s no doubt that, overall, your business would be seriously harmed.

This is why having a reliable disaster recovery plan in place is an absolute must for efficiently and effectively handling an unexpected power outage.

A reliable call center disaster recovery plan will help you minimize the impact of network and information system disruptions. Furthermore, a well-planned disaster recovery plan will determine the steps call center employees are required to take in the event of an unexpected power outage.

 

Think Cloud, not storm!

When a large storm causes an unexpected power outage, your call center will need a reliable backup solution to be able to continue handling customer calls.

However, having a physical backup system in place may be risky as there is no guarantee it will function well during an unexpected disaster. For instance, imagine that you choose to set up a costly physical backup solution, and suddenly a huge storm hits the whole region and shuts down both your primary and backup servers.

So, if you consider your business forward-thinking, then you’ll definitely need to have a cloud-based backup solution in your call center disaster recovery plan.

Cloud computing has evolved a lot in recent years, and now cloud-based backup call center solutions allow users to run their applications from virtual servers. By transferring your workload to a backup call center solution you can minimize your call center’s operations downtime and the number of lost calls.

So, if you haven’t already done so, we recommend you move your business to the cloud today, as this is a proven and efficient way to overcome operational disruption caused by power outages.

If you’re still unsure about the call center software solutions available on the market, then make sure to check out our quiz that definitely helps you choose the right the solution for your call center.

 

Brace yourself, customer queries are coming!

As we all know, call center operations have changed considerably in the last decade, with call centers now operating 24/7, and utilizing multiple shifts and personnel.

And as today’s customers are ever-more demanding, they’ll require an instant solution to their issues – regardless of whether your call center is facing a power outage or not.

So, in the event of an unexpected power outage, you can be sure that your call center will receive even more customer queries than it usually does. What call centers often forget in such situations is that outages affect their customers as well, and they also have their own customers waiting for a solution.

Our advice is to always provide your customers with accurate information about the power outage. Always make sure to let them know what is happening, and that the issue is being taken care of.

Furthermore, social media, as we have mentioned before in other articles, is your best friend. By posting information updates via Twitter or Facebook, for example, your customers will be able to see in real-time that you’re taking good care of them and keeping them informed.

Amongst other things, keeping your customers updated via different social media channels will allow your business to maintain customer trust as it recovers after the incident. Also, don’t forget to consult with PR at the company so that they can carry out and implement a proper communication plan in the event of a disaster.

 

Train, test, repeat

As we all know, sometimes even the best plans can go wrong. Be it an effective call center script, business continuity plan or disaster recovery plan, we can’t emphasize the importance of training and testing enough.

Being prepared for unexpected disasters, such as a power outage, is an absolute must for any call center. However, once you have your call center disaster recovery plan in place, it is equally important to test it systematically. Ongoing testing will provide your call center with the tools to successfully assess a possible disaster and its impact on your services.

Training your agents and supervisors in disaster recovery processes also needs to be a regular part of your call center’s training schedule. By providing your employees with well-written instructions and documentation on disaster recovery, you’ll empower them to be able to act quickly in the event of a power outage.

Furthermore, establishing a dedicated disaster recovery team will help you keep your call center running as smoothly as possible during unexpected events. Making this kind of training a regular practice will make all the difference.

 

Take away

Creating a preparedness plan in the event of a power outage is no small feat, but it’s definitely worth the effort: you’ll not only be able to quickly bring your business operations back up to normal after an incident, but also enhance your customer experience reputation by keeping your customers proactively updated.

So what are you waiting for? Make sure your call center is prepared, and you will never need to suffer from the consequences of a possible power outage.

Articles and entries on vcc.live/blog do not constitute legal advice. Should you have any legal questions, please contact your lawyer or legal advisor. VCC Live® will not take any responsibility or liability for any damages, disadvantages or losses that may arise from the results of any interpretation of the contents of the blog.

GDPR and Telesales – Is Cold Calling Still Permitted?

Posted on: July 24th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

On May 25 this year, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force. After a two-year preparation period, it’s now official: organizations need to ensure that the way they store and process data complies with the new rules outlined by GDPR.

GDPR certainly affects most businesses, but there are a number of industries that are more affected than others when it comes to complying with the new legislation. And the telesales industry, which typically relies on cold calling, is not surprisingly one of them.

We already created a GDPR checklist and outlined how your call center can process call recordings in accordance with the new rules, so now it’s time to talk about how GDPR affects telesales, and most importantly cold calling.

And if you think that GDPR doesn’t apply to your telesales activities, think again and read on. In this article, we’ll show you what you need to do to ensure you can continue relying on cold calling as part of your telesales strategy in the post-GDPR world.

Read our practical contact center GDPR GUIDE for every detail you need! 

Cold calling after GDPR

As we all know, telesales is a service that sells products or services directly to customers via (often cold) phone calls. Of course, in order to be able to contact customers via phone, businesses need to store and process a huge volume of personal data. Now that GDPR came into force, how has the situation changed?

The good news is that cold calling is still permitted, however, the rules of the game have changed considerably. Although the new legislation does not address cold calling directly, having your customers’ personal data may be against GDPR principles.

Before we immerse ourselves in the topic, let’s quickly clarify what’s the definition of personal data under GDPR. As we already mentioned in our previous article, voice files are considered personal data as they can include personal information, such as the caller’s name, address or financial information.

Consequently, data telesales departments typically rely on, including names, home addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, are all considered personal data.

Six criteria outlined by GDPR

If you want to continue your telesales activities in accordance with GDPR, it’s time to take a look at the six criteria you will need to meet in order to be able to store and process your customers’ personal data. Under GDPR, your business needs to justify that the purpose for storing and processing customer data fulfills one of the criteria below:

  1. Customers gave you their consent to use their data
  2. You’re entering into a contract with a customer and you’re processing their data in order to fulfill the contract
  3. Processing of data is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation
  4. You’re processing data to protect someone’s vital interests
  5. You’re processing data to carry out a task in the public interest
  6. Processing is necessary for legitimate interest, except where such interest is overridden by the customer’s fundamental rights and freedoms

When it comes to cold calling, it’s quite unlikely that criterion 2 to 5 will apply to you. So, your best bet remains focusing on customer consent and legitimate interest.

GDPR and consent for cold calling

With GDPR now in force, gone are the days of hiding pre-checked boxes at the bottom of a webpage. In order to be able to contact a customer, businesses now need to have the customer’s clear and explicit consent.

As outlined by GDPR, when initiating cold calls, you’ll need to notify your customers that you’re storing and processing their data, and ask for their consent to be able to continue to do so afterward. Of course, it’s probably not recommended beginning a phone call with this information, but you’ll need to make sure they’re fine with you having their data, ideally within the first seconds of the call.

GDPR also specifies that customers who previously gave consent to have their data stored and processed can withdraw this consent at any time, and it’s your business’ responsibility to immediately delete the relevant data.

Furthermore, the actual consent itself always needs to be recorded and be available at any time. Call recording is a common call center practice and can be used to make customer consent easily available and transparent. However, bear in mind that GDPR also applies to call recording.

GDPR and legitimate interest – the savior of cold calling

Let’s be honest, obtaining your customers’ consent to contact them before you actually contact them is not an easy task.

And this is where the option of legitimate interest comes into play: the last criterion says that as long as you have a legitimate business interest in contacting customers, and it’s not overridden by your customers’ decision not to be contacted, you’re allowed to call them.

Luckily, selling a product or service is considered a legitimate business interest, making the last criterion in the legislation the savior of cold calling.

For instance, if you call a customer and offer – let’s say – a new service package to them over the phone, then, as long as you’re not misleading or deceiving them, your offer is considered a legitimate business interest.

But while this is, without doubt, a great loophole for telesales departments, it doesn’t mean that businesses can continue to call an endless number of potential customers.

With GDPR in force, telesales departments need to be able to justify that they are calling potential customers who are truly interested in their products or services, rather than just randomly dialing all available phone numbers in their database.

Balancing test

In order to ensure that your cold calling efforts are a legitimate business interest, you’ll need to do a so-called “balancing test”, in other words, a comparison of your business interest against those of the prospects you want to call.

In brief, products and services that are offered via cold calling in a genuine way, without misleading or deceiving customers, are considered a legitimate business interest. Simple as that.

However, in order to make sure that your cold calls based on legitimate business interest won’t harm your customers, you’ll need to put certain “safeguards” in place.

Amongst other things, you’ll always have to provide customers with the opportunity to easily opt-out of continued storing and processing of their data. GDPR also states that businesses can only store and process data that is absolutely necessary for providing their service to its full extent. For instance, if you don’t need to have a prospect’s date of birth, then you shouldn’t ask them for it. Furthermore, always make sure to raise awareness of data protection in your organization, and test your procedures systematically.

The more “safeguards” you implement in your organization, the more balanced your rights to do business will be against the prospect’s right not to be called.

As you can see, GDPR is not the death of cold calls. Just study our article, allocate enough time to prepare for the new rules (if you haven’t done so already), and you’re good to go!

Articles and entries on vcc.live/blog do not constitute legal advice. Should you have any legal questions, please contact your lawyer or legal advisor. VCC Live® will not take any responsibility or liability for any damages, disadvantages or losses that may arise from the results of any interpretation of the contents of the blog.

Call Center Workforce Management Best Practices

Posted on: July 20th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

If you want to run a successfully operating call center, efficiency is vital. Just ask any call center manager what’s their most important mission when it comes to managing the call center, and chances are they’ll tell you: it’s increasing efficiency.

There are many methods for measuring and improving call center efficiency. Increasing efficiency is the backbone of any call center, and an effective workforce management plan can definitely make things easier.

Call center workforce management is a set of processes call centers use in order to optimize the efficiency and productivity of agent teams. In fact, a properly implemented workforce management practice allows call centers to lower operational costs, reduce churn, and most importantly, increase the overall customer experience. And as we all know, in our customer-centric world, exceptional customer experience is king.

In this article, we’ll highlight some of the most important call center workforce management best practices. Make sure to check them out, and start increasing your call center’s efficiency by better organizing the work of your agent team.

Forecasting

As we already mentioned in a previous article, customer service works best if it’s driven by data. And at a call center, data is everywhere: agent average talk time, average handling time and proportion of closed deals are all examples of essential data that should be used by any call center striving for excellence.

Therefore, the first principle of any effective call center workforce management plan is to forecast future workload based on the historical data your call center gathers.

You’ll see, by analyzing the available data your call center accumulates over the course of a day or week, you’ll be able to predict future customer interaction volume and better understand workload patterns.

Scheduling agents

Collecting customer data is an absolute must for any call center that aims to deliver an exceptional customer experience. However, one thing is to collect data, and another thing is to actually make good use of it.

Therefore, always make sure to utilize historical data to create better call center agent schedules as part of your call center workforce management solution. Amongst other things, an efficient schedule will definitely help you determine your resource requirements during peak and off-peak times.

When it comes to implementing an effective workforce management solution into your call center, assigning agents to tasks that match their abilities is equally important. With this in mind, before you start assigning your agents to projects, always make sure to thoroughly assess their experiences, performance, as well as preferences.

Furthermore, by empowering agents to manage their own schedules and giving them the opportunity to trade their shifts will help you reduce agent attrition and increase the call center’s overall performance.

In short, when creating schedules and assigning agents to them, your most important task will be to find the golden mean between the desires and needs of your agent team and those of the call center.

Practice makes perfect

So you successfully implemented a call center workforce management solution in your organization, ensuring a high level of operational efficiency at the call center. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that your work is done here.

Never take your call center workforce management solution for granted! In fact, call center workforce management works best if your processes are systematically monitored.

Therefore, the last and perhaps most important principle of any workforce management plan is the ongoing monitoring of agents’ adherence to their schedules. By doing this, you’ll be able to ensure that enough resources are allocated to projects during peak times, as well as identify if the demand becomes higher than the resources allocated.

Sum up

As you can see, implementing a call center workforce management solution is not an easy task, but your efforts will soon pay off. Amongst other things, an effective WFM will allow you to improve your call center efficiency, while helping you empowering your agent team.

The Advantages of Debt Collection Using Real-Time Payment

Posted on: July 18th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

When it comes to debt collection, agents always agree on one thing: they receive a lot more promises than actual payments. The most common thing customers say to agents during any debt collection-related conversation is that they will pay their debts in the upcoming days. If only these promises were kept…

In reality, the number of processed payments is always a lot less than the number of promises made. Not surprisingly, debt collection is often perceived both by clients and call centers as a costly and never-ending process.

But what if you could turn promises into immediate payments by allowing your customers to settle their debts during a phone call, rather than afterwards?

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the topic of debt collection using real-time payment, a technology solution that helps you make debt collection more efficient and convenient. Read on, and make sure your business is ready to take debt collection to the next level!  

 

Real-time payment during debt collection phone calls

If a company has a large number of outstanding customer debts, efficient debt collection is vital. Normally, such companies outsource their debt collection processes to call centers, who contact customers to remind them of their outstanding payments.

In such situations, phone is still the most preferred and used way to contact customers. Although debt collection with SMS can also be efficient, it is much easier to convey emotions and convince customers to pay their debts during a phone conversation.

However, as we all know, payment promises on their own are no guarantee of actual collected debt. Customer motivation is at its highest during a conversation, dropping immediately after the end of a call. As a result, customers often fail to settle their outstanding payments, and need to be repeatedly called back.

The greatest chance for successful conversion is thus during a conversation. And this is where debt collection using real-time payment comes into action: thanks to the latest technology, it is now possible for debt collection agents to initiate bank card payments during a single phone call. Yes, really!

This method of providing customers with the option of real-time payment during a phone call is a unique technology solution, and is readily available as part of VCC Live®’s software solution.

 

How does it work?

Real-time payment technology allows debt collection agents to initiate payment processes with customers during phone conversations regarding their outstanding debt. Thus, agents can combine two debt collection phases into one.

When using real-time payment technology during debt collection, the payment process is quick and easy. First, agents contact the customers and confirm an agreement with them via oral contract. Then, the customer makes an immediate payment by submitting their card details using the dial pad on their phone.

The system processes the entered card data and initiates the transaction.  Finally, the customer receives confirmation of a successful payment. Data security is guaranteed at all times. During the process, debt collection agents have no access in any way to the data entered by customers, but they are able to see how the request is progressing and intervene if necessary.

As such, using solutions such as VCC Live Pay, customers owing money can make instant payments when speaking to a debt collection agent on the phone. Collecting debts has never been so easy!

 

Why is it unbeatable?

It may seem like a big step to integrate real-time payment into your debt collection process, but it is a very exciting and invaluable step for any business striving to achieve better results in debt collection.

By offering the option of real-time payment to customers when reminding them of due payments, customers’ willingness to instantly settle their debts increases significantly. As a result, due to higher conversion rates, average debt periods are shortened. Real-time payment also helps decrease the overall amount of outstanding debt, as well as the average cost of debt collection.

Furthermore, by encouraging customers to pay their debts immediately during phone calls, the number of customers that need to be called back repeatedly also decreases. And as your call center agents are then able to contact new customers instead of repeatedly calling back those who did not answer their phones, your call center’s efficiency will also increase significantly.

 

Sum up

As you can see, debt collection doesn’t have to be a costly and never-ending process. With the help of real-time payment technology, it is far easier for debt collection agents to collect debts instantly, and significantly decrease the number of customers who promise to pay later but in reality never do.

So, stop spending so much time and money on collecting your outstanding debts and start speeding up your processes by using real-time payments over the phone!

How Technology Enhances Customer Service

Posted on: July 11th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

New technologies not only contribute to our daily lives and make everyday activities easier, they’re completely changing the way we live and work. Like it or not, it’s now a fact: technology has become an integral part of our daily routines.

In our competitive the business world, where the importance of delivering exceptional customer experience cannot be emphasized enough, technology has the power to help shape the future of customer service. It’s no surprise then that forward-thinking businesses have started to utilize the current tech boom to this end.

By leveraging the advantages of technological advancements, businesses can more easily satisfy and retain their customers and improve overall customer experience.

In this article, we’ll look at five customer service technology solutions that have already started to shape the future of customer service. Check them out, and make sure you too are leveraging up-to-date technology to deliver better customer experience.

 

Omnichannel communication

Nowadays, more and more businesses are recognizing that a customer journey may begin on one channel and end on a completely different platform.

When it comes to contacting customer service, customers can today take their pick from phone, email, SMS or webchat, and this omnichannel communication allows businesses to personalize their customer service by letting customers communicate via their preferred platform.  

Providing omnichannel customer service is no small feat, but the real challenge businesses have to tackle is to deliver consistent levels of customer service across these channels. Therefore, it is important to ensure that customer communication quality is equal for all the channels you use in order to be able to quickly resolve issues.

And don’t forget, sometimes less is more: instead of being present on every platform, make sure to focus on the channels your customers want you to be present on.

 

Social media

Chances are you’ve checked your personal social media platforms at least once in the last few hours, and perhaps even came across this article via a social media channel.

There’s no doubt that the popularity of social media platforms is continuing to grow, and a number of platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, have turned into important customer service channels.

These days, instead of calling a customer service representative, customers prefer to go online and check social media platforms to get real-time information.

And as conversations on social media channels are often in the public domain, your potential customers can see how your business handles customer queries (for more info, check out our article on the importance of online reviews). If you resolve an issue quickly on a channel seen by your customers, they will be reassured that you’re taking good care of them. On the other hand, unanswered or negative comments will easily scare potential customers away.

 

Self-Service is the new customer service

Self-service is definitely a hot topic in customer service at the moment. And with consumer behavior developing as it is, it is really important for businesses to keep up with these new trends.

Customers today are looking to solve their problems themselves, rather than dialing customer service lines. As a result, self-service options have become ever-more popular for companies, with a knowledge base or FAQ on their website allowing them to provide a comparatively simple way to manage customer queries.

Other popular self-service options include the implementation of chatbots (more on this below) and self-service IVR solutions. Giving customers information quickly helps reduce call volumes, while a well-constructed FAQ helps narrow down calls to those involving more complex issues.

 

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence has the potential to change customer service as we’ve never seen before, with chatbots undoubtedly being the next big thing in the tech world. According to research conducted by Oracle, 80% of businesses are already using or plan to use chatbots in their customer service by 2020.

Evolving chatbot technology is becoming more and more important in customer service, as it is increasingly being proved that chatbots can deliver exceptional customer experience. While customer service reps can struggle to respond to all incoming conversations, chatbots can intervene and easily handle thousands of conversations across several channels.

Implementing a chatbot solution as part of customer service activity is an inevitability for any organization that wants to deliver exceptional customer experience – it’s just a matter of time.

 

Data analytics

As data continually flows through call centers, forward-thinking companies have started to utilize this information to deliver improved customer experience. Data analytics, for example, allows you to better understand your customers’ behaviors and needs, and thus help you make your customer service more personalized.

But if you want your customer service reps to use data to help deliver prompt customer service, then you’ll need to invest in tools that support it. By using powerful reporting tools and call center software solutions, your customer service reps will be able to turn data – such as call recordings, chats, social media messages and SMS messages – into valuable customer feedback.

VCC Live®’s call center software is a good example of what can be achieved, offering real-time statistics that allow you to understand and continually improve your customer interactions.

 

As you can see, evolving technology is continuing to reshape the business world, and customer service departments are no exception. But if you make sure to keep up with the latest trends, you too will be able to utilize up-to-date technology to deliver exceptional customer experience.

How to Teach Customer Service Empathy to Your Agent Team

Posted on: July 10th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

We’ve all been there – waiting on a customer service line after having been passed around several people, still desperately needing your problem to be sorted out. In such a situation, the least you expect is some empathy when you finally get through to someone who can help…

In the call center industry, empathy is the soft skill that stands out from all others. It is, in fact, an absolute must-have skill for any call center star.

In terms of customer service, empathy improves individual call quality as well as overall customer experience. By demonstrating empathy, agents can calm down angry customers more easily, and resolve issues to everyone’s mutual satisfaction. And having a reputation for empathy enhances your call center’s reputation in general, especially in today’s connected world, where stories of positive customer service stories often go viral online and can make all the difference.  

In this article, we’ll outline some techniques for creating empathy at your call center. Read on, and find out how to make sure your team is putting your customers first.

 

Start with yourself

When it comes to improving customer service empathy at a call center, always start by assessing the current level of empathy in your team. And as their manager, you, of course, are also an essential part of the team. So start by asking yourself the following question: Am I showing my agents enough support?

Rule number one: if you want to create a culture of empathy at your call center, then you too have to show empathy towards your team. Don’t assume that you know everything that your agents are thinking and feeling – you probably don’t.

Rule number two: make sure to listen to them and find out more about them. Ask them questions about their hobbies, their challenges and their aspirations. Furthermore, pay attention to what they do, and make sure to give them genuine recognition when they get things right.

 

Forget about empty phrases – instead, act

Increasing empathy is more than just encouraging your call center agents to adopt “we apologize for the inconvenience”-type phrases. Empathy is more than just words, and only works if it’s genuinely offered.

So, instead of just letting your call center agents use standard phrases, try and make empathy part of your call center’s culture. Encouraging your agents to put themselves in customers’ shoes is one great way of conveying meaningful empathy.  For instance, if an angry customer calls your customer service line, it’s a great first step if your agents start by reassuring the customer that they know what they’re going through.

Another way of showing empathy to a customer is to show a willingness to act immediately and make commitments to them. Recognizing the urgency of the customer’s issue, and successfully communicating this urgency to them, will make customers feel that the company is really putting them first.

 

Empathy has to be inspired

Is it possible to train call center agents to become more empathetic? As mentioned above, forced empathy will probably not work, as your customers will sense that it’s not being honestly given.

So, instead of paying for expensive empathy training sessions, why not inspire your agent team from the top down?  When agents see you handle an escalated call, turning an angry customer into a happy customer by showing empathy towards them, they too will want to act just like you.

By showing them how empathy helps you deal with problematic customers, you’ll encourage them to handle such situations using the same approach. After all, no one likes to have to deal with an angry customer.

 

Reward customer service empathy

No two call center agents are the same. Always bear in mind that your team is made up of individuals, so it’s unlikely that each of them will naturally demonstrate the same level of empathy to your customers.

However, if you want customer service empathy to grow throughout your call center team, then make sure to reward those who have both successfully mastered it and regularly demonstrate it towards your customers.

You could, say, introduce an “agent of the month” award, and praise the winner for the empathy they use to provide help to customers. Bonuses and incentives can also be used as a reward for agents’ outstanding and empathetic performance. Positive feedback fuels agents’ motivation, while financial compensation helps make agents feel that their hard work is generating profit for the organization.

Turing these kinds of activities into regular practice will make all the difference, and you’ll soon see that all your agents will want to be part of the game.

 

Utilize technology

As with almost everything else, technology can also be invaluable here. If you want your call center agents to handle your customers with empathy, then you better empower them with the right tools.

Remember, for example, that customers easily lose their temper when they have to repeat the same information over and over again. But with call center software that allows your agents to immediately look up any customer information they need during a call, this never has to be the case.

Furthermore, one of the most important goals for customer service teams today is to make customer experience as personal as possible. The use of data analytics in call center software can definitely make things easier (for more info, check out our previous article on data analytics).

In fact, comprehensive analysis of customer data is the first step to understanding your customers. Data analytics will allow you to better understand your customers’ behaviors and needs, and thus make your customer service more personalized. For instance, by identifying which questions your customers commonly ask, your agents can better prepare for customer calls, and thus resolve upcoming issues more easily.

 

Sum up

Customer service empathy cannot be created solely by training. Instead, it should be demonstrated from the top down, and rewarded through recognition. And don’t forget to utilize comprehensive tools that support it. Bear these points in mind, and you will definitely be on the right path.

How to Calculate (and Reduce) Your Cost Per Call

Posted on: July 6th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

Let’s be honest: in the business world, money talks. And, as we also all know, running a call center is costly. Very costly, in fact. Considering the amount of expenses that are inevitably required to run a call center, one of the most important responsibilities call center managers have is to figure out how they can reduce costs in a way that doesn’t affect customer experience.

Cost per call is a business metric that allows call centers to calculate the total cost involved in handling calls during a specific period of time. As well as being an essential metric, reducing cost per call is typically a high priority on call center managers’ to-do list.

In short, cost per call can be calculated by dividing operational costs by the total number of calls in a given period of time. But how do you do that in practice? Check out our article, and see for yourself!

 

Calculating cost per call – let the numbers speak for themselves

The first thing you have to do is to compile a list of the agents working for your call center and then define the time period for which you want to calculate the cost per call.

Next, determine the number of calls an agent handles per hour during an average shift. For example, let’s take an agent – we’ll call him John – and calculate the number of calls he deals with during a one-hour period. In order to do that, you’ll have to look at the number of calls he makes during an average day, and divide that number by the number of hours he works each day.

Let’s do some math! Let’s say that John handles 40 calls a day and works an 8-hour shift.

Once you have John’s number of average calls per hour, you can determine John’s cost per call. To do that, divide John’s wage by the average number of calls he handles during an hour, and the result will be the cost per call for John.

So if John gets 15 dollars an hour, then, as you can see in the calculation below, John’s cost per call will be 3 dollars.

In order to calculate the average cost per call of your call center, divide the result by the total number of agents working in your team. For instance, let’s say that you work with a team of 10 agents. After doing the calculation below, the result will be $0,30, telling you what each call is costing your business.

 

Of course, though, the method above only takes into consideration your agents’ wages as costs. But don’t forget that a call center has other costs, such as operational, software and office space costs.

Therefore, another (and perhaps more accurate) way of calculating your cost per call is to calculate your call center’s total costs for a specific period of time (including salaries, operational costs and costs associated with any call center software used), and divide the total cost by the total number of calls handled during that time period. The result will be the total cost per call of your call center.

For example, let’s say that your call center costs $100,000 per year and handles 200,000 calls during that time. In this case, as you can see in the calculation below, your call center’s total cost per call will be $0,50.

cost per call vcc live blog

Speaking of calculations, there’s a bunch of another important metrics you should definitely keep track of, including your cost optimization, sales optimization and margin optimization. So check out our calculators, and let them do the math instead of you!

 

How to reduce cost per call

Not surprisingly, one thing all call center managers crave is to reduce their cost per call, while also providing a continual high level of customer service for their clients. Fortunately, with careful planning and implementation, this balance is more than achievable.  

Amongst other things, well-trained agents, with an excellent knowledge of the processes at your call center, are a must, as they can more effectively assist customers, and so reduce call times and improve first-call resolution. Although training does cost a substantial amount of money for any call center, it is worth making sure you provide high-quality training sessions for your call center agents. You’ll see how much difference a well-trained agent can do.

Maintaining high call quality is another way to reduce cost per call. In order to do this, it’s essential to implement live call monitoring. By doing this, call center managers and supervisors can offer constructive feedback to agents, thus helping them improve the overall quality of their calls. As a result, efficiency will increase, and cost per call at your call center will decrease.

In addition to focusing on improving your customer service, when scheduling agent shifts, always make sure you consider peak call times and agents’ adherence level. Effective scheduling is another way of helping you increase efficiency and reduce call center costs.

Last but not least, since you’ll definitely need accurate statistics to calculate your cost per call, make sure to utilize comprehensive call center software. In fact, a call center without proper call center software is like a car without engine. In a previous article, we discussed what you have to consider when choosing a call center software, so make sure to check it out! If you expect your agent team to excel at their job, then you’ll need to empower them with proper tools. VCC Live®’s software, for instance, offers powerful features, such as a predictive dialer, that will help you further your aim of maximizing efficiency.

 

Sum up

In order to get the most out of your calls, you’ll need to keep cost per call as low as possible, while ensuring that your call center continues to provide exceptional customer service to your customers. The balance between efficiency and effectiveness will make all the difference here. Follow our tips and you too will be able to turn your call center into a profit center!