Effective and excellent call center etiquette can go a long way in securing valuable customers and leads. However, you may have noticed that the rules are constantly changing. In this post, we detail the dos and don’ts of call center etiquette and how you can offer an outstanding call center experience. Read on to learn more!
Top Tips for Excellent Call Center Etiquette
How call center agents conduct themselves during calls can determine customer satisfaction and retention. Poor etiquette leads to bad customer service and low caller satisfaction. Call center etiquette can be divided into four different phases of the call such as:
- Answering the call.
- Speaking to customers and identifying issues.
- Transferring customers to another agent or supervisor.
- Ending the call.
In each of these phases, you must demonstrate professionalism, concern, and a desire to genuinely assist your caller. We’ll look at each of these phases individually and the different aspects to keep in mind to ensure you are providing outstanding call center etiquette. Learn more about promising customer service tips here.
When Answering the Call
The speed at which you answer the call as well as your tone can determine how the rest of the call goes. If you take too long or answer the call in a rushed manner, callers will immediately be put off. Keep these tips in mind as well:
1. Answer the Call Promptly
Customers do not like to be kept waiting when they are trying to reach customer support. Always answer the call on the second or third ring. Any longer than that, they may feel frustrated and abandon the call. Additionally, if it is too hard to reach your business time and time again, that customer will likely switch over to a competitor instead.
2. Greet with a Friendly Tone
Always greet callers with a positive attitude. Callers can sense your inflection on the phone. Smiling while you’re on a call is an old trick that conveys a friendly tone through the phone. Starting a call with a positive attitude encourages the same from the caller on the other line.
If someone is distraught about their product and in need of help, your positivity will help ease their frustrations because they will know by your tone that you are eager to help. You do not need to go overboard with this. A simple greeting like “Hello, you’ve reached (name of company) my name is ___, how can I help you today?” will suffice.
Identifying the Issue
Next up is taking the time to listen to your caller and identify the issue. This means you should key into their emotions and being empathetic while clearly understanding what the problem is. After all, if you do not know what is concerning them, you may not be able to help effectively.
3. Adopt Active Listening
Let them explain and describe the issue to you before you repeat it. Nothing frustrates a customer more than an employee that is not paying attention to them and seems in a rush to finish the call. Take time to understand where they are coming from and what the problem is. Reinforce your understanding by showing you have heard their situation and are working on a resolution.
4. Identify the Issue
Once you think you have a good handle over what the issue is, confirm it with them. Reiterate the problem as best as you understand it. Something like, “So, from what you are telling me, I understand that you are having an issue with . . .” or “. . . that you would like to . . .” This will help you ensure you have thoroughly understood the issue and will also demonstrate to the caller that you have been paying attention.
5. Be Patient and Helpful
Always be patient. Whether they are taking too long to explain the problem or are repeating themselves, your patience will determine whether this customer returns or not. When a client calls a company, it is more than likely to resolve an issue. Patiently listen to them. If you are unable to help them, transfer them to the correct department.
Transferring the Call or Placing the Caller on Hold
Most callers do not enjoy being placed on hold or transferred to another employee. Unfortunately, at times, it is necessary to transfer the call to someone who can handle it better or place them on hold so you can find the right information and help them better. Here are rules to observe when transferring a call or placing it on hold:
6. Determine Who to Transfer to
Again, listening intently to what their needs are will help you determine what department to send them to. After all, customers will only get more agitated if they need support but you sent them to sales.
7. Explain Why They Need to be Transferred
Most callers do not like to be bounced around. However, sometimes it is inevitable, especially if they reached the wrong department, to begin with. Explain to your caller why they need to be transferred to another department or employee.
8. During the Transfer
When you transfer a phone call, make sure that there is someone in that department available to take the call. Stay on the phone with your caller until someone answers and then you can introduce the caller to this new department. Do not abandon your caller till they have someone who can take care of them.
9. Ask Before Placing on Hold
Before you put someone on hold, ask them for their permission. Instead of saying “I’m going to put you on hold now” or nothing at all, say “Would it be alright if I put you on hold for a brief moment?” Then wait for an answer.
10. Use The Hold Button Appropriately
Make sure you and your teams know how to use the hold button so there is no confusion. For example, when you place someone on hold while you speak to another customer, the person on hold should not hear you speaking with the other customer or hear employees in the background. Hold music or a custom message can be played when they are on hold, instead.
11. Do Not Place Callers on Hold for Too Long
Do not leave someone on hold for a long time. If they are waiting to speak to someone in particular who is not available, inform them that they will be waiting for a certain period of time. If the wait exceeds 2-5 minutes, check in to let them know you have not forgotten about them but are taking longer to find what they need. If they do not want to stay on hold for long, encourage them to call back later or offer to call them when you have the information or person available.
Ending the Call
The last part of maintaining good call center etiquette focuses on how to end a call. This largely depends on how the call went. Were you able to resolve everything or is a follow-up required?
12. End The Call Politely
Always aim to end the call on a “high note.” If something needs your attention right away, offer to call the person back and let them know you will finish the conversation after you have dealt with this urgent matter.
When the conversation has come to a natural end, ask them if there is anything else you can do for them. If yes, proceed to assist. If no, thank them for their call. An example of a good way to end a phone call is, “Thank you so much for calling (company) today, I hope you enjoy your weekend.” Or, “It was a pleasure speaking with you, I’m glad that we could help you out today. Have a wonderful rest of your day.”
Additionally, if your company asks for surveys post calls, ask your caller if they would be interested in participating in a brief survey. And respect their wishes, whichever way they lean.
Do not rush them off the phone, and always wait for the customer to hang up before you hang up.
13. Offer Follow-Up Information
Alternatively, if a follow-up is required, let them know how to expect it. Will you send an email or phone call reminder? Should they call you back instead of your company contacting them? Either way, make sure that you have the information they need when the follow-up occurs.
Additional Call Center Etiquette
In addition to the above points, there are some other aspects of call center etiquette to pay attention to, such as call management and training.
14. Training Employees and Agents
So that agents know what they are supposed to do and how to best help customers, they need to be trained well. This includes:
- Training new employees, even those that come with experience
- Offering refresher courses and workshops to current employees periodically
- Using call recording to record and review interactions
- Conduct regular performance analysis
- Provide access to seminars and training programs
15. Making a Call
Employees should be trained to make calls professionally. Be sure to introduce yourself and the reason for your call right away. Provide them with all the necessary details at the beginning of the call.
Leaving a voicemail is similar to making a call. Even with the voicemail, introduce yourself and explain the reason for your call. Also include contact details such as a phone number and, if needed, a time frame for them to call you back.
16. Forward Your Phone To Voicemail
If you are out of your office, send all incoming phone calls immediately to your voicemail so that the caller knows that you are unavailable. Having a caller sit through 20 rings before realizing that you’re not going to answer is impolite and leaves the caller with a negative feeling. Your voicemail should state who you are and when you will be back. An instant and informative voicemail saves the caller time and allows them the option of leaving a message or calling back at a more convenient time.
Offer Better Customer Service with the Right Etiquette
If you don’t try to do the best you can, chances are, you will miss the buck. To gain new customers and convert them into regulars and to treat your regulars like royalty, your call center etiquette needs to be on-point. Make the necessary changes, implement a strategy for continuous education, and watch as your business grows!
Related: 5 Surefire Ways to Improve Virtual Call Center CSAT Scores