Providing great customer service is as simple as being a good friend.
Customers want someone they can count on to be there when it matters most, always offering the words they need to hear. And if you can add some patience and altruism to reliability and resourcefulness, you could quickly achieve best friend status.
The problem is, these personal qualities aren’t exactly quantifiable — at least not in a precise sense. But if you know what you’re looking for, your call data can actually reveal more than you might think.
Reliable and Responsive
Four days ago, you texted your friend to ask if The Revenant was a good first-date movie. Today, they responded, “No wayyyy! 😂 .” Tomorrow, you’ll question your instinct to ever ask for their assistance again.
We know the desire for timely solutions is the reason most customers pick up the phone in the first place. In fact, it remains the channel of choice for those seeking a first-contact resolution. That’s why silence on the other end of the line is so hurtful.
But not all missed calls are created equal — you don’t need to take responsibility for every failed connection. If a caller hangs up in the first 10 seconds, they probably made a mistake. Wrong numbers happen.
If a customer tries to call you outside of your posted business hours, a swift resolution is unlikely as well. Although, if you’re getting a significant number of these calls, you have a few options.
- Expand coverage
- It stinks when your friends can’t hang out, but meeting up is more likely when they’re on the same schedule as you. In terms of your phone support, this means staffing representatives outside of standard business hours. Remote employees in different time zones or non-standard hours (e.g. 12-9 or 6-3) could be a possibility.
- Automate the easy answers
- Sometimes you ask your roommate where the remote is, and rather than help you look, they ask if you’ve checked between the cushions. Voilá, it was there. A thoughtful IVR (Interactive Voice Response) may not be human interaction, but if speaking directly isn’t an option, it goes a long way toward helping your customers help themselves.
- Encourage voicemails
- Sometimes, your neighborhood friend isn’t home — or they have chicken pox. When all else fails, a personalized voicemail will foster a response at the earliest convenience. Just remember to check your inbox frequently — your voicemail is not a mausoleum for customer inquiries.
Prompt and Present
Your friend agreed to meet for dinner at 7:30. It’s now 8:15, and you’ve lost your table. You’re at the bar, sandwiched between two 21st birthday parties, when your friend comes ambling in, briefly saying something about traffic.
The night progresses as well as possible, but then the texting begins. It was fleeting at first, but now it’s full conversations beneath the table, filled with smiles and emojis. Complete distraction. No respect.
Your customers’ time is valuable, and your phone support should reflect that. Nobody likes waiting around, particularly when looking for a quick resolution. There are a few things you can do to decrease the dreaded wait times.
Identifying precise times of longer queuing will help you make smarter staffing decisions. Adding additional help during those windows is the most direct fix, but most competent phone systems will provide additional tools to alleviate wait times.
A comprehensive IVR (think “Press one for store hours, press two for shipping information…”) will help your support team learn more about the caller before uttering a single syllable. Customers will be able to take the first step toward resolution themselves, and by directing their calls to the most qualified agent, even complicated service requests will be resolved in short order.
But when backups are unavoidable, implementing a callback request — likely the greatest innovation in telephony since touch-tone — will eliminate wait time altogether.
This feature gives your customers the freedom to put the phone down and go about their lives. They’ll receive a call once a service rep becomes available.
Just think of the shrubs that will be pruned, shoelaces tied, and omelets made.
But we live in the real world, and in the real world, you may not have multiple teams to distribute incoming calls or an unlimited budget to staff an army of support agents. When the queue gets crowded, you still have an obligation to improve customer experience. Relaxing music or an occasional message reminding your callers that “their time is important” will show tact and sympathy on your end. (Just make sure your performance doesn’t transform it into a hollow phrase.)
Capable and Clever
So your friend has agreed to meet up in your time of crisis. You want sympathy, support, and advice, but all you get are pictures from some tropical vacation and a breakdown of the latest Star Wars movie.
Being available is only the first step. Can your representatives provide knowledgeable and quick resolutions?
Here, the analytics have an important role to play. What is your average inbound call duration? Outbound? How quickly does your team find a resolution on the whole? What about individual agents? Precise data can help you identify areas for improvement and pinpoint lengthy calls for optimized service.
Periodic training workshops will help your representatives stay sharp on your product and operations, but the technology itself is often an inhibitor to seamless customer interactions.
Integrated service platforms are essential to keeping your agents informed and ready to assist. If your call software interacts effortlessly with your most-used CRM or sales platform, you’ll see all your customers’ information in one centralized place.
This means less time switching between tabs, and less time digging for important information. Faster resolutions made easy.
Can numbers be our friends?
Technology can supplement and optimize service operations, but person-to-person interactions will always require a friendly, human aspect. Positivity, tenacity, and patience will be missing from your analytics reports, strictly speaking, but the data can direct you toward areas of improvement.