July 9/16, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 2
By Lisbeth Calandrino
Every business has someone answering the phone; technically, this is your call center. Your call center is a crucial personal connection your customers have with your business. There’s a company I often do business with called Harry and David. They are an American-owned, premium food and gift producer and retailer. Their employees are so well-trained, they almost act as your party planner. They even go back into old catalogues and look up specials for you. Nice, huh?
How many times have you called a business but were frustrated by the person who answered? Did you have to ask them their name? Did they sound like they were put out by your call? Did you feel they were multitasking and you weren’t part of their important conversation? You might have felt you were actually being rude by interrupting their day.
What I’m reporting is way too common and it’s a huge financial drain on business, maybe even your business. Unless you are actually monitoring the calls, the only feedback you ever get from your employees is someone called and needed information. You don’t get a sense of the emotions between the caller and your staff. It’s just as important to know what’s not said.
It’s because we believe everyone inherently knows what to say on the phone that the call center gets overlooked. However, phone skills are a highly valuable tool to have in your employees’ skill set. Call-center training will give your employees these skills.
Teaching your employees these valuable skills will make them more confident, improve sales and help gain new customers while retaining your current clientele. A more confident employee is also one who is happier, and happier employees will produce more happy customers. This will lead to higher productivity throughout your organization. A business needs to gain customers, not lose them.
So, what is a good call-center strategy? As the owner, it’s your responsibility to determine how you want your phones answered and to make sure it gets done through your management-coaching system. I suggest using my SMARTER system, which is an updated version of the SMART system. As a refresher, SMART is commonly attributed to Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives concept. I have improved the SMART acronym to include “Evaluation” and “Review.” Having metrics you can evaluate and review with your employees will ensure they reach their highest potential.
If turnover is keeping you awake at night, getting your call center up to speed will fix that. The use of a monthly service to monitor your calls may be a profitable consideration. Oftentimes, it’s important to have another way to look at your problems. Call-center monitoring gives you another avenue to keep up on the vital signs of the health of your business. I had a client in New Jersey who set up a monitoring system to listen to her calls. We would discuss the content and the emotional consequence of the conversations. She said listening to the calls exposed what was going on between her employees and customers.
These are things I have in my bag of tricks gained over decades of fruitful experiences from business owners like you. I’ve worked with the best and the worst and, like you, I know the difference.