Best Practices for Customer Contact Centre

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There is no doubt that in this age of technology – smart devices, apps and readily available information via the internet, customers seem more inclined to help themselves than depend too much on getting help from a company’s representatives. Many interactions and buying activity now happen without the need for human interface – this works fine until the company messes up or the customer believes that customer service has gone south. This is when the channels of communication are abuzz with customers trying to reach the customer contact centre. This centre is the hub of all direct customer interactions with the company and service provided here could prove to be the difference between customer happiness and dissatisfaction. It is crucial that the representatives understand their responsibility and follow the best practices for the customer contact centre as laid down by the company. To start with, the representatives working at the customer contact centre must be highly skilled in managing customers and must be empathetic in order to ensure that every customer receives top of the line service each time.

While attitude and skills are quintessential, every company must ensure that they put in place best practices of their customer contact centre, because without some benchmarks and guidelines, even the most skilled representatives would be unable to perform. According to research, it would be safe to say that every customer contact centre must make it a habit to solicit customer feedback and put it into practice. Research reveals that at least 68% of customer contact centres have a program that listens to the voice of the customer and this figure has consistently been on the rise. The good news is that there are a number of ways to collect feedback from customers – survey forms, online surveys including email, face-to-face interactions and other such methods – that allow companies to understand what customers believe about them. This enables them to improve wherever they lack and cement whatever the customer believes the company is managing well.

The role of representatives at a customer contact centre has evolved – no longer do these representatives only make and receive calls but also serve customers through a range of other channels of communication. The best practice for a customer contact centre in this realm is therefore that representatives can provide uniform and consistently good service to customers through email, social media, live chats and other such channels that customers would use to interact. It is imperative that the customer data assimilated at the customer contact centre is aligned with all the other channels too, such that if a customer moves from calling the centre to communicating via email, the respective representatives are able to view the customer’s details and respond accordingly. Such service saves time and effort for the customers, making them more inclined to interact again with the company. Repeated happy interactions lead to more business and lead conversions.

Even if companies do their best for customers, there would be times when customers find reason to complain. Among the top ‘jobs’ of a customer contact centre, complaint handling and management, is probably one of the most significant. When customers call to complain they are usually irritated or angry – that means they would be in an emotional state of mind. Among the best practices of a customer contact centre would be to understand that a customer’s complaint is not personal but rather an expression of the frustration they feel since your company has not lived up to its promise. The representatives must allow the customers to vent and display empathy, which would make them feel heard and as a result would be more open to suggestions and solutions. It is an established business fact that angry customers, when treated with care can become the company’s most loyal and profitable customers. Effective complaint handling and management should be given due importance and be among the top best practices for any customer contact centre.

From a company perspective, ensuring the best environment for the representatives of their customer contact centre, would be quintessential to the best practices. The representatives must be provided many opportunities to train, learn and develop. They must have manageable workloads, time-off, work from home opportunities and other such employee friendly and flexible policies. In addition, regular recognition must be given when employees display good service and consistent performers should be rewarded. Employees emulate leaders and will give customers what they receive from the company – if they are shown respect, care and empathy, they would serve their customers with the same fervour and a mind-set focused on delighting them. Further, the office premises must be such that it energizes the staff despite their high stressed job. Bright colours, large open windows, ergonomic furniture, good food, happy breakaway areas, clean washrooms, game rooms and other such office features have been known to contribute towards employee enthusiasm.

In addition to having employee friendly policies, companies must ensure that as part of the best practices for their customer contact centre, the employees understand the crucial role they play in the success of the company. High customer retention rates, high scores on customer surveys and other such standards must be part of their key responsibility areas and on their performance appraisals. Linking performance to incentives and other benefits keeps employees motivated to achieve higher on every count. They should be encouraged to report any problems and failure to do would mean that they would be accountable for the consequences. A robust system of internal problem resolution will ensure that each representative works without the fear of being reprimanded or ignored. Creating an atmosphere of healthy competition will infuse energy and encourage all the individuals to work to their optimum.

We know we live in the age of technology. It would be tough for the representatives at the customer contact centre to serve customers well if they do not have access of upgraded tools and top class facilities. The job of a customer service person is already hard and highly stressed – a company that is unable to provide the right equipment and facilities would find it hard to get optimum output from their customer contact centre staff. Given that almost all companies would have a large customer base, the staff must have access to CRM system that would allow them to capture all the customer data in a centralized location. This system allows for regular updating and can be made accessible to all those who deal directly with customers. In addition, knowledge sources, training materials and good managers can help to raise significantly the level of service provided to customers.

Even though this aspect is written about last, it is possibly the foundation of customer service and the best of the best practices in a customer contact centre. Customers must at all times feel welcome, experience a kind and friendly human touch and know that the company will do whatever it takes to alleviate their problem. If a company and its representatives can consistently show their customers care and empathy, even the most irate and disgruntled customer can become one of the most profitable and loyal. Customers prefer a long and healthy relationship with a company rather than being constantly worried that they may need to switch since they do not receive good service. Companies that look after their customers and treat them with the respect and courtesy they deserve are more likely to remain successful. Customers want to feel valued and as the top best practice of a customer contact centre, it would be the duty of each person to ensure that they do. Strict adherence to the best practices will ensure that both the customer and the company not only achieve their goals but do so with the least effort and cost.

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