Improve your customer service call center in order to get double-digit response rates

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When your customers buy an important product from you, they trust your company will support them after the sale. In many companies, this trust is being violated. Customers are experiencing "customer service blow-offs" and translate these experiences into your company saying, "You've already bought. Now our priority is getting more new customers," or "You want service? Go figure it out on the Web or wait on hold for one of our poorly trained customer service representatives."

Per my company's research findings, the damage from poor customer service call center experiences is serious. The study found sharply reduced willingness to buy from the company (86.3 percent), negative perception of the company (98.9 percent), and sharply reduced likelihood to recommend the company to others (91.5 percent).

Poor customer service is not company or industry specific. Companies spanning all industries and sizes are hurting their company image and credibility with their customers due to poor customer care experiences.

In fact, in one of our recent studies about the impact of poor customer service call centers, we discovered that two-thirds of professionals rated their recent customer service call center experiences as negative or neutral. Only 34 percent report positive experiences with customer service call centers.

This alarming statistic demonstrates the strong need for companies to focus on customer service, if they want to keep customers and grow their business. The first step in improving and re-engineering your customer service call center is to know exactly what customers want.

Here are some improvements to make. Allow for issues to be resolved in a single call by one customer service representative who speaks clearly, understands their needs and has access to customer records quickly. Provide customer-friendly experiences including an easy-to-use menu with a minimum of clutter to quickly reach a representative. Offer the ability to call back the same representative, should the need arise.

Don't outsource customer care centers. In our recent research we discovered that most professionals (98 percent) report a negative to neutral impact when customer service call centers are located offshore or outsourced in the United States.

Adequately trained representatives who know how to actually solve customer problems, and who will provide customers with a case number they can use for credit if they do not receive great service, are a must. Provide rapid access to a live person from a company with sufficient staff so customers are not on hold for more than five minutes.

The ability to speak to a highly qualified supervisor quickly if the customer problem is not resolved in an efficient manner is also crucial.

Do not view customer service centers as cost centers. These are revenue-generating centers. In your rush to cut costs, you must consider the financial ramifications of losing customers due to poor post-sales experiences. Positive customer service call center experiences solidify relationships between your customers and your company resulting in more future sales.

Do not cut back on training, quality control procedures and investments in customer service call centers. The damage from poor customer service call center experiences has significant impact on repeat-purchase likelihood and willingness to recommend the company

Personally check your customer service call center to see if it's up to your standards. Take note on the amount of time it takes to get a live person or just to navigate the phone tree. Experience the frustration of talking to someone who is not a native speaker. Ask questions that are not in your pre-made scripts and experience the irritation you get when you talk to someone who is not familiar with the product or service they are selling.

By improving their customer service call centers using these guidelines, one of our clients, Golden Rule Insurance, improved its sales conversions by 88 percent. You can expect to achieve this magnitude of increases to your bottom line as well when you follow these proven customer service call center techniques.

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