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Senior Managers – Do You Call Your Call Center?
- John Welsh
- 4 October 2016
If you are a senior manager and customer satisfaction is important to your organization’s success, when was the last time you actually called your call center? If this is an action you have never done or an action you have not done in a while, I suggest you do it immediately upon completion of this article and you should incorporate into your weekly schedule. You may ask why? What better way to secure a true understanding of the customer’s experience with your call center than acting as a customer. The experiences gain through the frequent repeating of this action will provide a glimpse of what your customers experience.
When you call the call center focus on the total interaction. Starting with how the call is connected with the call center through the steps to connect with a representative and the interaction with the representative. All of these steps contribute to the full customer impression of your center and play a role in communicating the professionalism of your organization and influencing the customer’s overall level of satisfaction.
So, what happens when your dial the call center? Was your call connected with an automated system or connected directly with a representative?
Many companies utilize an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System to provide automated customer assistance and to direct the caller to an appropriate representative. As a senior manager, test the system to ensure it is configured correctly and meeting these objectives. Do the paths available to the customer provide the proper assistance or do they lead to customer frustration? The decision to install and utilize an IVR was made with the understanding the system would reduce the call center’s overall expense. It would eliminate representative handling of basic calls capable of being handled by the system. It would decrease the number of internal transfers by directing callers to the appropriate representative for their concern and it would enable the center to operate with fewer representatives. Is the IVR meeting these expectations?
Companies not employing an IVR system establish a call acceptance process that connects the call directly with a representative or with a “please hold” message and a transfer to a call waiting queue. Organizations using an IVR employ the same process when a customer requests to speak with a representative. What happens in your organization? If you are placed “on-hold”, how long are you there? Organizations generally have a Service Level goal they strive to achieve. This goal is communicated as 80/20 or 90/30, which means answering 80% of the incoming calls in 20 seconds or 90% of the calls in 30 seconds. What is the goal for your organization? Do your calls into the center fall within the goal? My experience has been that many call centers are meeting this goal. But, not at customer peak calling times. Make your calls at different times during the day and on different days of the week. Track how long you wait “on-hold” on each call. Is the wait time acceptable to you? Do you think it is acceptable to your customers?
When you do reach a representative, how prepared is he or she to take your call? Did the representative accept the call with the proper greeting? Role-play with the representative. Create a scenario and ask basic, as well as, complex questions to gauge your level of satisfaction with the responses received.
Evaluate the overall professionalism of your call center representative staff. Customers expect consistency. So as you make multiple calls and speak with different representatives, evaluate the professionalism of each representative. Do you notice a trend where the professionalism of the representative staff is different at certain times and days? Is there consistency with the way the representatives are handling your inquiries? Do you notice a difference in the way representatives treat and react to you? Do you experience a call handling behavior pattern you prefer?
All of the information gained through these calls to your call center is valuable. These experiences enable you to provide feedback to the center’s management team so that either praise or corrective action can be taken. As a senior manager, you know customer satisfaction is paramount to the success of your organization. Acting as a customer and interacting with your own call center provides insight into the experiences of your customers and give you an understanding of the effectiveness of your call center.
So, if you have not called your call center in a while or have never done it, do it now and incorporate this activity into your weekly schedule. The actions steps implemented, as a result of your experiences, could prove to be very valuable to your organization’s bottom line.
John Welsh has over 35 years of experience in the call / contact center industry has done it all.
My experience has included corporate employment in the financial services industry where I developed and managed multiple customer service and telemarketing centers and work with marketing organizations on the development, implementation, and execution of inbound and outbound telemarketing campaigns.
As a consultant for the past 20 years, I have focused on providing clients with call center solutions and outsourced telemarketing campaign management. Consulting engagements have included the development of in-house call centers, completion of in-depth call center assessments and operational reviews, resolution of call management issues, interim operations management, development and management of Requests for Proposals (RFPs), and management of customer acquisition and customer retention inbound and outbound telemarketing programs.
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