5 tips for empowering call centre operators
5 tips for empowering call centre operators
Your call centre operators are the face (or voice) of your whole customer service operation. They get it all, from simple enquiries to angry complaints. Increasingly both these types of calls are getting more complicated. With access to your website, online forums and social media, customers can find the easy answers online, it’s the hard stuff they need your agents’ help with.
While the questions may be getting curlier, it doesn’t mean your agents need to know everything. They do, however, need to be empowered to help your customers, no matter what their query, then and there. They do need to be able to quickly access information that gives them the answers and feel they have the permission to create solutions for customers. They need to meet that all important first call resolution and do it with style. And by style we mean empathy, thoughtfulness and speed.
1. Let your call centre operators know who they’re talking to
We’re going to go a little Marie Antoinette for a moment… They have no bread? Then let them eat cake!
While it’s hotly debated whether Marie Antoinette ever said her starving subjects should eat cake (it was more likely brioche – there’s your history lesson for the day), the intent of the saying is applicable here. Don’t have what you need? Get something else – that’s actually better.
Your call centre operators have knowledge gaps. It’s to be expected. But they’re also hungry for information (there’s that bread) that will help them better service customers. If you have no bread around, the answer is easy. Give them access to your CRM (it’s better than bread, it’s cake!)
Integrating your CRM with your call centre software provides your call centre operators with essential customer details as they answer a call. This includes notes on previous calls. If there is an ongoing problem the agent can see easily what has been tried before and make new suggestions without having the customer have to repeat their previous experiences. It also allows the agent to build rapport with the customer, “I can see that you’ve already tried X. How did that go? OK, we’re going to try Y today. I’ve had other customers this has worked well for.”
2. Let them know it’s OK to take charge
Traditionally your call centre operators weren’t empowered to offer financial or other forms of compensation to customers. They needed to escalate the call to a supervisor, much to the frustration of customers, who are just after a quick solution, and much to the detriment of their first call resolution rates.
More and more call centres are letting their operators resolve these issues themselves. They are able to compensate callers within certain limits, and are encouraged to creatively solve problems without escalation.
3. Let them know they can fake it
We’ve talked a lot about this one too. Training is important. Up-skilling helps as well. But it is probably impossible to spend the time and money needed to make your call centre operators experts in every single area of the business. Instead you can create a knowledge centre: tools and resources for agents to find answers, either as follow up to a call or during a call.
4. Give them access to essential faking-it tools
Intranet or Wiki
A well-structured intranet is a great resource for formal documentation and business to staff information sharing – such as sales results, new product releases and policies. Less formal are Wikis. If built well these repositories of documents, questions, answers and stories are easily searchable and can be contributed to by anyone in the business. It’s a great place for operators to share stories of customer queries or complaints they’ve had and how they solved the issues.
Messaging apps such as Slack and Yammer are also a great way to connect employees. Post a question on Slack, tag in an expert and get an answer before you have time to make a coffee. As with everything human it’s important to understand that mistakes will happen. The wrong information may get posted. But with mediation and supervision from subject matter experts and call centre supervisors
Chat functions can actually be build within your call centre software to help staff immediately connect to subject matter experts or supervisors – allowing them to type in a question and receive an answer while still on the phone to the customer.
One of the best faking it tools around. If your customers ask your call centre operator a question they don’t know the answer to immediately, they can click on a Wizard – a little bit like a choose your own adventure tool that with a few clicks will lead the operator to the answer they need. It simply prompts them to ask certain questions to the customer and depending on the answers will lead them to one solution or another. The best part is the customer will never know your agents are faking it.
5. Build the feedback loop to give call centre operators a voice.
A final important step in empowering your operators is letting them know that you value their input. Make time to listen to their feedback, concerns about knowledge gaps or common product issues they’ve heard of from customers. These people talk product and service to your customers all day every day and their input and insight should be valued.
81 percent of employees said that they’re motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work. (Source)
Empowering your agents not only provides a better, faster experience for your customers but it also improves loyalty from your staff. You empower them, they’ll empower your business right back.