How To Calm Down An Irate Caller In Three Easy Steps

You’re not likely to come across many business owners who don’t believe in the practice of providing excellent customer service. This is certainly true for businesses that predominantly communicate with their customers over the phone. As all phone agents know, it’s no easy task to create and grow a relationship with someone you have never met face to face. However, the most talented of phone agents do it all the time!

It takes special skills to be a telemarketer. Patience is one very important skill. It is necessary because you’re not going to speak to happy leads and customers all of the time. As everyone who has ever worked on the phone knows, encountering angry customers is all part of the job. And it’s definitely not the easy part.

There are some important steps for all phone agents to take in order to calm down their irate callers. Here are three easy ones:

Step #1: Shut up and listen.

One of the best things you can do for angry customers is to let them get whatever they need to off of their chests. Let them vent. Give them the opportunity to express their frustration. But make absolutely certain that you are listening. Take notes if you have to. A guaranteed way to find out how to resolve the issue is to know exactly what the issue is and how it may have started.

“You can usually determine whether or not the caller is angry within the first few seconds of a call,” says TalkDesk.com, “When you come across an angry caller, it is important to simply listen to them before trying to defuse the situation. The caller may just want to vent his frustration. Sometimes, after a caller is given the chance to express displeasure, they will apologize and allow you to solve the problem with no further anger.”

Step #2: Express empathy.

A big step in calming down an irate caller is to immediately apologize for the inconvenience and stress that the unfortunate issue has caused. However, expressing empathy is more than saying you’re sorry. It’s putting yourself in the customer’s shoes in order to show that you truly understand his/her anger. For example: “I sincerely apologize for the mishap. I can appreciate your frustration. If I was in your shoes, I wouldn’t be pleased myself.”

Step #3: Show that you will be working to quickly remedy the problem.

When callers are irate, time is of the essence. More often than not, they will want their problems to be solved immediately. If it’s possible, stay on the line to show that you are working to resolve the issue right away. A couple of weeks ago, we posted a blog that focused on the appropriate techniques for putting people on hold. When dealing with irate callers, however, it’s best to avoid hold time.

According to TalkDesk.com, “some callers believe that hold time allows representatives to talk rudely without being heard. Others believe that they are put on hold so that the representative doesn’t have to deal with the problem. While this may not be true, while on hold, a caller’s imagination will have plenty of time to think up negative reasons for why they are on hold.”

How will you know if your phone agents are following these three easy steps? Take advantage of SIClytics’ Live Call Monitoring services! For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-877-374-6003 or email us at sales@SIClytics.com.

3 Major Reasons To Monitor The Calls Of Your Phone Agents

At SIClytics, we would go so far as to argue that there is no type of employee who benefits more from feedback than a phone agent. Employees who work on the phones speak to customers at much greater rates than any other industry professional. Therefore, it should probably be obvious that phone agents need the most encouragement as well as tips and pointers to help make them better at their jobs.

Simply put, it’s important to monitor the calls of phone agents to ensure that they are all performing at their best. Here are three major reasons why:

1. It helps to correct common mistakes.

Not all phone reps are going to be perfect on each of their calls. There are many factors that may cause them to miss out on opportunities to make sales and/or provide top-of-the-line customer service. In such cases, your monitoring of their calls will help you to pinpoint the areas of concern that can be improved.

“Knowing that a call centre agent struggles when interacting with customers who ask for a refund because call scorings from this call type consistently fall below the expected threshold is helpful,” notes TalkDesk.com, “but knowing why this agent struggles with this call type by analyzing call recordings from these interactions is imperative to gaining a comprehensive understanding of where the agent is going wrong.”

2. It motivates your staff members and inevitably makes them happier.

You may think that phone agents feel uncomfortable knowing that their calls may be monitored. But, in fact, the opposite is generally true. Not only does call monitoring keep them on their toes, but it ensures them that they’ll receive advice on how to better their performances. Keep in mind that feedback should always include both constructive criticism and positive reinforcements. As a call centre manager, you should take advantage of every opportunity to offer proverbial pats on the back to reps who are doing well.

As Jeanne Landau points out on Business2Community.com, a happy staff is a productive staff. “Happy employees can be the strongest asset a company has,” she writes, “With contact centre agents interfacing over the phone every day with hundreds and thousands of customers, handling important customer issues, it is critical that these employees are satisfied with their position in the company so that they project a positive attitude and image.”

3. It helps to promote customer satisfaction.

All call centres pride themselves on their customer service. Monitoring calls helps you to determine who, on your team, is the most proficient at pleasing your customers. “There’s a reason that the standard disclaimer call center callers hear includes the words ‘quality assurance purposes,’” says TalkDesk.com, “Call monitoring enables managers to silently listen to conversations without agents realizing. This means that agents are held to a standard of excellent customer service.”

At SIClytics, we offer Live Call Monitoring services that enable call centre managers to whisper information to their reps while they are on their calls. This helps to create more immediate conflict resolutions. If absolutely necessary, managers can also barge in on the calls and take them over to satisfy escalated customer needs!

For more information about our Live Call Monitoring services, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-877-374-6003 or email us at sales@SIClytics.com.

The Important Process Of Professionally Putting Callers On Hold

Every single one of us has been put on hold in our lives – several times over. It’s a natural part of life. We make calls, we get asked to be put on hold, we wait and then someone eventually picks up. It isn’t a big deal, right?

Well, in today’s “get things quickly” world, being put on hold is a bit of bigger deal than it used to be. We’re a lot more used to having things done immediately these days. The internet is a big reason for that. Not only can we attain useful information with the click of a few keys on our smartphones, but we can also access music and videos in ways that were once unheard of. There’s a reason why video rental shops and music retailers are either completely out of business or are heading there fast.

People expect to get what they want NOW!

The entire on-hold process is regarded a bit differently because of our modern-day association with getting things quickly. So, business owners and the phone agents that work for them need to be mindful that their callers are expecting expeditious service. It’s not good enough to simply say “hold please” to someone who calls your business. To ensure that all of your potential customers know that their time isn’t being wasted, it’s wise to implement some courteous acts.

It all begins with asking – not assuming.

“May I please place you on hold for just a minute while I look into that for you?” is an ideal way to initiate the hold process. “Hold please” is just not going to cut it. Firstly, it’s imperative that your caller is made aware that he/she won’t be wasting his/her time waiting for longer than necessary. You’ll notice that the above written hold request has two important components:

  1. It kindly requests permission. It asks the caller to be placed on hold instead of demanding that he/she wait.
  2. It gives a timeframe. People don’t generally have problems with waiting for “just a minute”. If you’re going to be longer than the timeframe given, be sure to come back to the line and inform the caller. This measure of respect and courtesy will go a long way in boosting customer satisfaction.

On Humanity.com, David Galic lists the act of asking callers to be placed on hold as one of his five most important rules of proper telephone etiquette. He points out, however, that asking is not enough. “Wait for the person to respond,” he advises, “It’s important to make sure you have initiated the conversion and confirmed that you are there for them. If you ask politely if you can put them on hold for a few moments, most customers will say ‘sure.’ Be sure to use that approach if it’s indeed necessary.”

At SIClytics.com, we know how important it is for business owners who employ phone agents to ensure that top-notch customer service is always being provided. We offer Telemarketing Reporting services that help you to track telemarketer progress and results as well as Live Call Monitoring services that enable you to listen to the calls being taken by your telemarketers live and as they happen!

For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-877-374-6003 or email us at sales@SIClytics.com.

What Are The Best Ways To Boost Productivity In Your Call Centre?

No one would ever claim that it’s easy to run a call centre. At least, they shouldn’t. Because, as all call centre managers know, there are a lot of unique personalities to deal with on a telemarketing team. It’s the “personality” issue that a call centre manager should pay special attention to. Although talented phone agents help to make high-productivity call centres, it’s the emotional states of the employees that need the most nurturing.

No one would ever claim that it’s easy to be a telemarketer. And they shouldn’t. Being on the phone all day is a hard enough job as it is without having the requirement to meet sales targets. So, as a call centre manager, it’s important to address the mental strain associated with the telemarketer position when working to boost sales for your business.

So what are the best ways to boost productivity in your call centre?

Hold energy-boosting morning meetings.

This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve recommended the morning meeting for call centre businesses. And it probably won’t be the last. Use at least 10-15 minutes each morning to gauge the moods of your phone agents – and do your part to uplift them, if necessary. Tell jokes, share funny stories and encourage participation from your team members. An energy-boosting morning meeting is a great way to start the day off right.

Implement friendly competitions.

At the end of the day, you’re looking to boost your sales numbers, right? Why not encourage higher productivity by making it fun for your employees? Create contests that offer prizes for the highest producers. Divide your phone agents into teams and create a standings (not unlike in professional sports) so that your employees can see how they’re measuring up against their competitors.

“Healthy competition can be highly beneficial in the contact centre, so why not pit teams together in a head-to-head contest?” poses CallCentreHelper.com, “One month it could be handle time, and the next month it could be up-sell opportunities…This can really improve a team’s morale, and the productivity boost you get from the teams striving to attain their goals will never hurt. This works particularly well in outbound telesales.”

Encourage inter-team feedback.

Who better to help improve the productivity of your phone agents than your high-producing phone agents? They know, from experience, some of the top tips that can be used to help boost sales and overall customer satisfaction. Not to mention, encouraging inter-team feedback helps to increase employee morale and team-building.

“Involving the telesales team in improving productivity can be highly beneficial, as they know better than anybody else because they are doing that job on a day-to-day basis,” says Martin Jukes on CallCentreHelper.com, “Salespeople will know where the problems are, where systems perform poorly and where the processes are disjointed. There are not enough instances where the telesales team are involved in realigning processes or mapping out new procedures to improve productivity as well as performance.”

At SIClytics, we offer call centre mangers Telemarketing Reporting services that help them to track the progress and results of their telemarketers. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-877-374-6003 or email us at sales@SIClytics.com.

Making The Case For Doing Away With Manual Dialing

There are many members of the SIClytics team who have extensive experience in call centre environments. They can recall the days when they’d show up for work, sit at their cubicles and have to sift through piles of paper in order to locate the contact information for all of the leads they would end up calling within the day. Needless to say, it was quite the time-wasting practice.

Manual dialing is now a thing of the past. Or, at least, it should be. Making your phone agents look through printed sheets of phone numbers is not only a waste of time but – you guessed it – a waste of money. We’re not just talking about saving paper here. We’re talking about the fact that you stand to get much more productive work days out of your employees when you invest in an automatic dialing system for your call centre.

Why use an automatic dialer?

Automatic dialers help your phone agents to spend a lot more time talking to leads and a lot less time trying to locate their phone numbers. Consider the amount of time it takes to review paper records, select a lead, find the lead’s phone number, dial the number and then document what happened on the call using handwritten notes. Manual dialing forces agents to spend a lot of time off of the phone.

“Manual dialing tends to be time-consuming and wasteful of contact centre efforts,” writes Madeleine Coe on Wired.com, “With each manual call, the agent has to get the number, physically dial it, and then wait for the person on the other line to pick up. It means your contact centre agents waste a lot of time dealing with answering machines, wrong parties, no answers, and that horrific cacophony when they accidentally reach a fax line. Ugh. That’s a lot of time they’re not spending talking to real live customers.”

Consider the time it takes to review handwritten notes before dialing up that lead a second or third time. Today’s automatic dialers do a lot more than simply contact leads with the click of a button. They also provide online note keeping and the creation of dispositions that enable you to categorize your calls based on the responses you receive.

“Auto-dialing takes all the guesswork out of manual dialing with the automated process,” insists Coe, “Agents can get typically only 15 minutes of real talk time per hour (not including finalization and reviewing call details) with manual dialing, but auto-dialing doubles that to 30 minutes of talk time.”

At SIClytics, we offer Lead DaFeeder.

It is a simple web-based telemarketing software that allows even the most inexperienced computer users to manage campaign dialing and dispositions. Lead DaFeeder has revolutionized how web-based technology helps small and medium-sized businesses to manage their telemarketing, customer acquisition and political survey strategies.

It delivers a feature-rich set of processes that enhances effectiveness, drives sales, improves customer satisfaction and provides insight into performance. Supported by administration capabilities that adapt to how your company operates, Lead DaFeeder is delighting companies and employees of all sizes across a broad range of industry sectors.

For more information, please don’t hesitate to call SIClytics at 1-877-374-6003 or email us at sales@SIClytics.com.

Why It’s Important To Return Every Phone Call

Return every phone call. That should be a mantra of every business owner. You know the old “when opportunity knocks” adage, right? Well, not returning your phone calls is no different than ignoring a knock at the door. Not only is it considered rude (read: damaging to your company’s reputation), but it practically ensures that you’ve missed out on a business opportunity.

Keep in mind that there’s a big difference between missing a call and not returning a message. Most business owners experience busy work days that don’t allow them to grab the phone every time it rings. The majority of consumers understand this. What they can’t understand, however, is the inability of a business owner to return a message within a 24 hour period.

Never let it be lost on you that consumers know they have options.

If you can’t return a call within a timely fashion, you can be assured that the person who called you has already called someone else. This is especially important information for sole proprietors. When you are the only person working for your business, you have no other choice but to return all of your missed phone calls yourself.

Here’s the bottom line: make time to return every call! “Every time you fail to return a call, you have missed an opportunity,” declares Patricia Pollack on BizJournals.com, “It may be an opportunity to strengthen a business contact or to reinforce your marketing image or even to close a sale. Manage your time more efficiently, and make the time to return calls.”

Don’t assume your customers will call back.

Pollack goes on to note that far too many business owners work with the idea that if a call is “really important”, the customer will call back. She stresses the fact that this is definitely the wrong attitude to have.

“If a reporter calls you to get information about your new product, and you fail to promptly return that call, that reporter is not going to call again,” she writes, “If a potential client calls you to discuss retaining your services and you fail to promptly return that call, that person is not going to call again.”

Play phone tag, if necessary.

Many business owners dread the idea of having to leave messages themselves. They figure that if they don’t get in touch with the individuals who called them, they’ll be leaving messages of their own. This is a process that can go on and on depending on the availability of both parties. It’s popularly referred to as “phone tag”. Pollack’s perspective on this: So what? Play the game! It only stands to garner your company some business.

She does, however, offer some advice to help keep phone tag games to a minimum. “When you return the call and have to leave a message, give the caller a day and time when you know you will be in the office and available to answer the phone,” Pollack advises, “Give them the option of communicating by e-mail if you know that it will be difficult to connect via telephone.”

Contact SIClytics to learn about how our Missed Call Notifications services can help you to never miss out on an opportunity to follow up on a missed call! Call us at 1-877-374-6003 or email us at sales@SIClytics.com.

3 Keys To Providing Effective Feedback To Your Call Centre Reps

As any call centre manager knows (or should know), providing feedback to call centre phone agents is an integral part of promoting business success. It’s of vital importance that employees who work on the phone are given regular tips about how to better overcome objections, provide accurate answers and calm irate customers. As well, advice on how to boost sales is always a big help!

But what are the keys to making the feedback you provide as effective as possible? Here are three:

1. Use the “sandwich technique”.

At SIClytics, we’ve long heralded the act of placing negative feedback in between two slices of positive feedback. It’s important to remember that your employees are people – people with feelings. The more you do to support their emotional well-being, the better at their jobs they will be. There’s no question about it. When offering your feedback, be sure to include ample amounts of praise while also helping out with areas of concern.

On TalkDesk.com, Shauna Geraghty champions this technique. “Start the coaching session with something they have recently improved, are consistently doing well, or a strength,” she advises, “This will put the agent at ease and increase the likelihood that they will be receptive to what comes next. After you provide negative feedback, make sure you end the coaching session on a positive note by again highlighting something they are doing well.”

2. Accept feedback from your reps in return.

All feedback sessions should be two-way streets. It’s important to hear, directly from your phone agents, about any issues they may be having. Remember that they are on the “front lines”, speaking directly to your customers on a daily basis. They are aware of the needs, concerns and requests of your customer base. Hearing them out will help you to develop even better business practices.

“When you’re giving feedback, listen to your agents,” advises Texas-based Electronic Voice Services, “There may be a reason they do things a certain way even though it violates your company’s policy — a reason you need to know about so you can address it. Once you’ve discussed the behaviours you want an agent to change, work with them to create an action plan to bring about the desired changes.”

3. Participate in some role play.

If you’d like to see just how effective your feedback has been, engage your phone agent in a make-believe call to see how well he/she has adjusted. It’s a good way to test just how much his/her performance has been enhanced by your help. Naturally, you can use the exercise to correct any mistakes or offer extra pieces of advice that will help your rep on actual calls.

“Start by selecting a recent interaction that they had with a customer that could be optimized,” suggests Geraghty, “Then, role play that scenario making the agent the customer and you the agent. Once the agent has an understanding of what you would say in that situation, switch roles. When they are role playing the agent, provide them with helpful feedback so they can tweak their approach accordingly.”

To provide you with greater ease in delivering feedback, SIClytics offers Live Call Monitoring services. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-877-374-6003 or email us at sales@SIClytics.com.

5 Major Benefits Of Using A Call Tracking Service

The concept of call tracking uses different phone numbers for each of your online and offline marketing campaigns. In other words, it’s a system by which you use one number for your billboards, another for your radio spots and another for your online banner ads. Which number generates the most calls to your business? Call tracking is what will give you the answer!

As you may have already surmised, the benefits of using a call tracking service are many. Here are five major ones:

1. It helps you to track your ROI.

Quite obviously, when you discover which of your marketing campaigns are driving the most calls in to your business, you’ll better determine how to spend your advertising dollars going forward. Tracking your returns on investment is huge in the saving/making money game. By ceasing certain ad campaigns that aren’t particularly working and investing more into effective strategies, you will ultimately generate better profits.

2. You’ll discover your peak hours.

Call tracking doesn’t just help you to figure out which of your advertising campaigns are the most effective. It also informs you of the times when the most amount of calls come in to your company. By knowing the times of each day when you receive the most calls, you can better schedule the shifts of your staff members. Clearly, manning your phone lines with an adequate number of phone agents is imperative to providing optimum customer service.

3. It helps you to better train your staff.

Call tracking services also provide call recording capabilities. This enables you to properly monitor calls in order to pinpoint areas of concern in the performances of your phone agents. Providing helpful feedback, as you’re likely aware, is an incredibly important part of providing excellent customer service. Ensuring that each member of your team is fully equipped with the knowledge necessary to answer questions and quell concerns is of key importance to your company’s overall success.

4. It allows you to document customer trends.

Which products generate the most interest in your customers? Which of your services do they find the least helpful? These and other questions can be answered through the use of call tracking technology. You’ll also learn about the issues that each of your customers face and gain a better understanding of how your company can help to resolve them.

5. It provides you with accurate information about your callers.

Okay, allow us to break it down. At SIClytics, our Call Tracking services provide you with a lot of useful information. It includes the total number of calls you receive and how many of them were answered versus missed. It also informs you, not only of the duration of each call, but of how many of your calls lasted under one minute, spanned 1 to 2 minutes or lasted over three minutes.

With our Call Tracking services, you’ll also learn the average talk time per answered call, the day that generates the most calls, how many calls you get in an hour, the number of calls you get each day of the week and the number of calls generated from each Canadian province!

To take advantage of our Call Tracking services, please don’t hesitate to call SIClytics at 1-877-374-6003 or email us at sales@SIClytics.com.

2 Techniques That Help To Build Strong Rapport Over The Phone

As we pointed out in last week’s blog, there are big differences between providing customer service over the phone and providing customer service in person. When you are face-to-face with a customer, it’s so much easier to use non-verbal forms of communication. Hand gestures, facial expressions and other types of body language help for customer service reps to convey that they are friendly, polite and knowledgeable about what they’re offering.

When you are on the phone, however, you don’t have the benefit of utilizing any of the above mentioned forms of non-verbal communication. Naturally, everything must be communicated verbally over the phone. So, it stands to reason, that it can be a little harder for customer service reps to develop strong rapports with the customers being serviced.

What techniques can you use to build a strong rapport over the phone? Here are two:

1. Speak “with”, not “at” your customer.

There is a big difference between “with” and “at” in the world of conversations. “At” is pretty much a one-way street. When one person does all the talking – especially in an effort to push a sale – little is done to form a bond between the two parties in the conversation. “With” entails that you are taking the time to listen to what the other person has to say. It involves asking questions so that the customer is given the freedom to communicate what he/she really wants.

“When taking a customer service call, try to engage the customer in conversation rather than turn the call into a mechanical event in which you ask questions to fill out a report,” advises George N. Root III on Chron.com, “Avoid small talk, but try to mix in conversational aspects about the product and the problem the customer is having. Try to move the customer away from any anger toward your company and focus on solving the problem.”

2. Practice the “honesty is the best policy” method.

Remember that your objective is to have a real conversation. And keep in mind that, in order to do so, you need to show a measure of respect to the person you’re speaking with. It pays to be honest. Don’t make claims that you can’t back up and don’t make promises you can’t keep. There’s almost nothing worse than being caught in a lie in the business world. It’s a guaranteed way to lose a customer for good.

Root insists that you take ownership. This is especially important when you’re dealing with an irate customer. “Do your best to try and remedy the situation; if you have to pass the call off to the next level, try to be there to make the transition with the customer to the new representative,” he writes, “If you are able to follow up on the call, do so to make sure the problem was resolved.”

At SIClytics, we offer business owners and call centre managers alike the opportunity to strengthen the performances of their phone agents through our Live Call Monitoring and Telemarketing Reporting services. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-877-374-6003 or email us at sales@SIClytics.com!

Customer Service Over The Phone Is A Whole Other Animal

When you’re speaking with customers over the phone, you don’t have the benefit of facial expressions, hand gestures and body language to communicate your points. These non-verbal forms of communication are often heralded as the most potent ways to get a point across.

So what can you do to ensure that you are communicating effectively when the person you’re speaking to can’t see you?

Put yourself in your caller’s shoes.

The first thing you can do is pretend you’re the other person. How would you like to be spoken to? Consider the tone of voice you’re using so that nothing you’re saying comes off as offensive. Be mindful of the words you’re using so that nothing is taken out of context. Don’t forget that you’re a customer too. Your first rule of thumb should be to provide the type of customer service that you would want to receive yourself.

“If you’re working with a customer, either on the phone or in person, and they need something, pretend it’s you,” says Nancy Friedman on TelephoneDoctor.com, “What would you want to have happen? What would make you happy? What would make you satisfied? Here’s a great place to remember the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Laugh it up!

Keeping in mind that body language won’t help you when you’re on the phone, it’s important that the sound of your voice is constantly pleasant. You know what helps with that? Smiling. You may even want to take it one step further and laugh a little bit. Cracking an appropriate joke or two will not only help you to enjoy your work day more, but it will improve the overall customer experience.

“Laughter will lighten the load,” insists Friedman, “Everyone likes to laugh. Some even in the darkest moments. Take the time to laugh and enjoy your customers.”

Be empathetic.

Remember that you can’t frown or show your concern by the look on your face during a phone conversation. As important as it is to keep things light-hearted, not every call is going to be a jovial one. When a caller indicates that he/she has had an unpleasant experience, it’s incredibly important not to pass over the revelation as if it were some insignificant detail. Expressing empathy is a hugely important part of providing excellent customer service over the phone.

“Empathy is the ability to understand or feel what another person is experiencing,” explains Pascal on Userlike.com, “Showing empathy in customer service is essential, because it shows the customer that you care. Jumping straight to the fixing part can make you appear unsympathetic.” Empathy, he later adds, “creates an emotional connection and trust, and shows the intrinsic willingness to offer support.”

At SIClytics, we are big proponents for excellent customer service over the phone. We offer unique services that allow for business owners and call centre managers alike to both monitor and track the progress of their phone agents. For more information about our Telemarketing Reporting and/or Live Call Monitoring services, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-877-374-6003 or email us at sales@SIClytics.com.