A smooth customer phone experience is much like having a warm conversation with a good friend.
With that in mind, think about what it is that makes a conversation with your friends good. For starters, good conversation flows back and forth naturally. Each person gets to contribute something, and both parties feel they’ve been heard and understood.
Just like a friendly discussion, a smooth customer phone experience should also feel good on both ends.
Phone calls are an essential part of your customer support operation. They may be the first point of contact a customer has with your company. These first impressions count for a lot.
Every interaction that customers have with your company gives them insight into what kind of company you are. Remember, no matter how well-versed your sales and support teams may be in providing a good customer experience, there’s always room for improvement.
With that in mind, let’s look at the role of phone service in the customer experience, why it’s an essential part of customer support experience as a whole, and how to personalize calls to improve the customer experience.
The Role of Phone Calls in the Customer Experience
The time that your sales and support reps spend on the phone with your customers falls under the umbrella of the overall customer experience, and it’s a very important part of the customer experience, at that.
Exactly what are we talking about when we refer to the phone experience?
The phone experience encompasses all the interactions and experiences that your customers have with your business throughout the entire customer journey. This means from the first call or web visit through to the most recent call or interaction. Simply put, the phone experience is your customers’ holistic perception of the experience they have with talking to your brand.
When you’re utilizing a cloud-based phone system and call center software, the phone experience also includes various other communication channels like email, chat, and instant messaging, all of which can be integrated with phone systems to enhance customer phone experience.
When a member of your team speaks with one of your customers, it’s the first glimpse that the customer gets of your company, and you want to be sure it’s a good one. In fact, the majority of customers prefer phone contact. Studies show that 70% of customers prefer to speak with a customer support representative by phone if the matter is urgent, and just over half of customers prefer phone contact for resolving issues.
So, when a customer calls (which they will), it’s prime time to make an impact. When your teams perform well, it could result in a sale or a happy customer. Most of the time this builds into a loyal customer. Loyal customers will advocate for your brand, ultimately spreading the word about their positive experience.
What do customers expect from a good phone experience?
It goes without saying that your sales and support teams need to be respectful, polite, and practice good business phone etiquette, even on the toughest calls. However, there’s even more that you can do to develop a good customer experience strategy.
Sales and support reps who are focused on the customer experience know that they need to consider how customers think, feel, and behave when deciding how to respond to them in the best manner. When you set up the right workflows and use the right technology, your customer facing teams are able to deliver a good customer experience consistently.
That’s the key to exceeding your customers’ expectations and setting the stage for good customer satisfaction ratings. By doing so, companies can also generate higher revenues, since the majority of customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience.
Why a Phone is an Essential Part of Customer Support
With advances in technology, businesses gain the benefit of being able to communicate with their customers via several different communication channels. While many customers still prefer to converse with businesses over the phone, many of them also like to use various other channels like email, chat, or instant messaging.
There’s a lot to be said for knowing which communication channel is the most effective for each circumstance. Some businesses have decided to forgo phone systems altogether and communicate with customers solely by other electronic means. However, while automated messages work well for certain situations, they’re not ideal for every type of customer communication.
For example, if a customer has a complex problem, it’s usually faster and simpler to just solve it over the phone. Phone conversations can help you avoid long, confusing email threads, and they alleviate a lot of frustration on both ends. What’s more, customers have a greater comfort level when they know that they can get ahold of a real person if they want to or need to.
At the end of the day, over-reliance on technology isn’t necessarily a good thing. We’ve all experienced frustration when dealing with pre-recorded messages and chat bots that don’t understand how we feel as human beings. That’s why having phone support for your company is such an essential part of ensuring a great customer experience overall.
Steps to Take to Improve Your Overall Phone Experience
With every inbound or outbound call, your call center has an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on your customers and continue building the foundation for a long and healthy relationship. It’s therefore essential to improve the overall phone experience as an ongoing activity.
Here are some simple steps you can take today to improve your overall customer service and phone experience:
- Train your sales and support reps how to use the right calling strategies, and empower them with the right tools. This will allow them to better personalize conversations and humazine the customer experience.
- Develop a clear understanding of who your customers are and why your products or services are important to them.
- Use the right tools, like a cloud-based phone system, so you can leverage dashboard analytics to monitor your call center performance.
- Set up the most common call metrics, such as wait times, first call resolution, average wait times, average speed of answer, average call length, conversion rate, etc., and add new metrics according to the data you need to evaluate the customer experience.
- Use CRM integrations to consolidate all customer information into a single source of data.
- Follow best practices for call center training.
- Make sure your sales and support reps are well trained in a variety of technical skills, as well as soft skills.
- Set up a workflow for outbound calling to continue building the customer relationship, even when they’re not calling you directly. You can do this by offering promotions, sales, and information about products they’ve expressed interest in in the past.
- Train support reps to ask for customer feedback during calls and to pass their comments along to the call center manager. Make changes according to customer feedback whenever possible.
Ways to Understand Your Customer’s Experience
Considering the importance which the customer experience has in creating long-term customer satisfaction, how can you better understand your customer’s experience, so you can improve it?
The trick is to get into the mind and hearts of your customers.
It sounds simplistic, but the way to understand your customer’s experience is to proactively listen to them. Here are some specific ways to do that:
- Continually work to instill a customer-centric culture throughout your entire company.
- Leverage multiple communication channels, and make sure you prioritize the channels which your customers prefer the most.
- Always send out automated surveys to gather feedback from customers after every interaction.
- Train call center agents to keep the entire customer journey in mind during every call.
- Look for trends in customer behavior, consider the implications they have on your business’s growth, and make any necessary changes to continuously optimize the customer experience.
- Gather actionable insights at each stage of the customer journey and adapt your workflows to leverage them. Your call center analytics dashboard is a goldmine of good data which you can use to do this.
Be aware that your customers’ expectations will be set by their past experiences with your company, and with other companies. But, with every customer interaction, you have an opportunity to change their perception of you, and your industry, for better or worse.
When you’re delivering a good customer experience consistently, you create the opportunity to maintain continued interactions with your customers. This gives you more chances to market and sell suitable products to them, gather useful feedback, and impress them with your service. This will increase the likelihood of a customer telling their friends about your company.
How to Personalize the Customer Experience
The digital revolution has forced companies to compete on the quality of their goods and services and in the way they approach customers. To be successful in today’s marketplace, your company also needs to stay competitive in terms of the quality of its customer experience, and personalization is the best way to do that.
The following tips will help you approach how to personalize the customer experience:
- Use a CRM that works in tandem with your cloud-based phone system. Call center agents should be able to see call history and other key customer details. This will help them to personalize each call and reduce hold times.
- Create a customer-centric approach based on feedback from your customers.
- Train teams how to personalize their approach. They’ll be able to better adapt to each call and situation that may arise.
- Use call center software to set up IVR and knowledge bases for common questions and tasks. Again, make sure that reps are readily available as an additional option. Your reps should be able to innovate and respond to complex queries in the moment.
- Use call center software that offers multi-channel communication (i.e. live chat, sms, etc.) integrations. Team members will be able to converse on the customer’s preferred channel.
- Train teams on how to gather as much information as possible from customers on every call. No detail is too small to record.
- Use automated surveys to gauge customer satisfaction and take action on common complaints.
- Get feedback from call center agents and factor it in your decision-making on how to continue improving the customer experience.
- Stay connected with your customers by reaching out to them at regular intervals.
Remember, when personalizing the customer experience, you have to make it an organization-wide priority. Always aim to improve it over time.
Checklist for Improving the Customer Phone Experience
- Industry-leading contact center software, like Aircall, that works with software integrations for sales and customer support, and gives you dashboard analytics for monitoring your call center activity.
- The call recording feature to evaluate calls and identify common problems.
- The call whispering feature to coach call center agents on live calls.
- Quality assurance software to get fast feedback on each call.
- AI and transcription software to analyze calls and get actionable insight.
- Help desk software to automatically add notes and comments to tickets.
- Contact center software that gives you multi-channel communication capability.
- Train your sales and support reps on how to use positive language and phrases as a general rule.
- Leverage data and reporting software to build advanced reporting dashboards.
- Implement sales software to automate the sales process and shorten the sales funnel.
- Set up workflows with automated surveys to get immediate feedback from customers about their experience.
Ultimately, the right call center software is the key to giving your sales and support teams the tools they need to improve their skills and, as a result, the customer phone experience, as well.
One final tip before we go. Before your reps end each call, they should ask customers if there’s anything else they can do to be helpful. It’s the small touches like these which work together to provide the smoothest customer phone experience possible.