In today’s digital marketplace, we put so much emphasis on maintaining a strong social media presence that we sometimes forget where the real “front line” of customer interaction is: The contact center. Think about it: As much as your customers may enjoy your amusing Tweets or your inspiring Facebook posts, what happens when they have a problem using one of your products? Or when they have a detailed question that can’t be answered in 140 characters or less? They pick up the nearest phone and call your company, hoping for a solution.
How (and when) you answer these customer inquiries has a massive impact on your brand image and online reputation. Remember—It only takes one unhappy customer to write a scathing review of your business on Google or Yelp. As such, it’s never been more important to hire competent, compassionate contact center staff that can answer your customer’s inquiries promptly and knowledgeably.
If you’re setting up a contact center for the first time, you’re probably wondering how to go about hiring the right contact center representatives. Unfortunately, many of us have low expectations when it comes to contact center representatives because we’ve had mediocre experiences when calling companies ourselves looking for assistance. First and foremost, you’ll need to raise these expectations—excellent contact center employees do exist, you just need to know how to find them. Start by looking for the key qualities described below.
3 Traits Every Contact Center Employee Should Have
- Excellent manners: A contact center representative should always greet callers in a polite and friendly way, such as by saying, “Thank you for calling [company name]. How may I assist you today?” He or she should also close the call in a courteous way, once again thanking the customer for their call and their business.
- Empathy: Customers calling in about a problem they’re having want to feel as though your company cares about providing them with excellent service. If a contact center representative sounds cold and informal, the listener may feel that he or she is being rude and impatient—and this will color the customer’s whole perception of your company. A good call center representative will be patient even with difficult callers and work to make the caller feel understood.
- Knowledge: Contact center representatives should know your products and services well enough to give callers quick, insightful answers that will solve their problems. If a contact center employee does not know the answer to a caller’s question, he or she should know the right person within the organization to get the required information from. He or she should be able to connect the caller with whomever he or she needs to speak to in a timely fashion.
How To Set Up A Contact Center For Your Business
Once you know what to look for in a contact center representative, you’ll need to decide on how you want to implement this vital customer service. There are a few options in this area:
- Create an in-house contact center team. This is the most expensive option, so it’s not viable for many small-medium sized businesses. It can, however, provide very comprehensive service in industries (such as the IT industry) where contact center staff will need to answer a lot of “technical” questions. Having direct access to the product developers is invaluable in such instances.
- Outsource contact center services. This is a very budget-friendly option, and it’s the choice favored by most organizations today. It guarantees friendly, prompt service because dedicated contact centers employ skilled, experienced customer service personnel. An established agency knows how to do customer service right—it’s their business, after all.
- Have one or more staff members perform contact center duties. This option is often chosen by very small businesses which have no budget for dedicated contact center services. In this model, an existing employee is trained to also handle contact center duties. He or she is typically equipped with user-friendly contact center software that makes the job easier. However, while this approach does have one notable advantage, knowledge (no one knows your products like one of your long-time employees, after all), typically it also produces delays and rushed service.
Whichever option is right for you, you’ll absolutely be doing your business a favor by implementing dedicated contact center services. For a customer, nothing builds trust like warm, empathetic, and knowledgeable interaction with excellent contact center representatives.