Phone Etiquette 101
Studies show that when contacting a business, most people prefer to use the phone over other means of communication. But all too often the person on the other end doesn’t exactly meet our expectations. This is especially true of younger generations that hardly use phones in the traditional sense and prefer texting over live conversations.
As a result, many young contact center agents find themselves tasked with helping customers over the phone without knowing exactly how to act. And with the COVID-19 spike in customer service calls, this lack of knowledge is no longer acceptable. Here are 9 reasons to teach your contact center agents proper phone etiquette.
1. Reduces Long Wait Times
The first lesson in phone etiquette is to answer calls promptly. As a general rule, your agents shouldn’t let a phone ring more than three times before picking up. Your customers are busy and want assistance as quickly as possible. Make sure your agents are trained to pick up incoming calls as quickly as possible.
2. Reduces Long Handle Times
Once a call is answered, your agents need to be able to handle any situation so that customers aren’t wasting time on the phone – or worse, forced to call back. Every agent must have the confidence and knowledge required to handle calls quickly. Putting customers on hold or saying “I don’t know” does not instill confidence in your customers or your business.
3. Reduces Customer Stress
Your agents’ conversational tone is crucial to maintaining control and composure when helping anxious customers. The tone should be calm, confident, and consistent throughout the conversation. If you’re already recording calls, an automated quality monitoring solution with call transcription and sentiment analysis can pinpoint changes in an agent’s tone during the call. Given a visual snapshot of the call helps agents become more cognizant of their tone and put stressed customers at ease.
4. Ensures Script Compliance
Agents who aren’t used to speaking on the phone may need help in communicating with customers. Providing them with a script and basic guidelines of what to say can be immensely useful. Even if the script simply reminds agents to identify themselves and the company at the beginning of the call, this will provide some consistency. Adhering to these scripts can help your agents convey a sense of professionalism on each call, and reduce compliance risks at the same time.
5. Keeps Agents Engaged
Ever wondered why some agents sound dull, listless, or even apathetic towards customers during phone interactions? This is often due to a feeling of detachment from the company as a whole. Providing constructive feedback to agents can help them improve their skills and make them feel more appreciated. Relevant feedback based on real examples empowers agents to provide quality service to customers.
6. Enhances Quality Monitoring
Another phone etiquette tip for your agents is to speak clearly and enunciate as much as possible. Not only does this help agents communicate better with customers, but it also makes call recording more effective, especially for call transcriptions. When agents speak slowly and clearly, transcriptions are more accurate and quality monitoring is greatly improved.
7. Reduces Agent Churn
Giving your agents the necessary skills and confidence to interact with customers over the phone will greatly impact their performance. You can do this with tools like agent scorecards.
Call scoring helps agents better understand their phone etiquette strengths, and where they may need to improve these skills. This results in agents who are more invested in their jobs and less likely to seek employment elsewhere. Agent attrition costs call centers millions of dollars a year, so saving money is another great reason to properly train agents.
8. Improves Overall CX
Perhaps one of the most important benefits of phone etiquette is improving the customer experience. Teaching your agents something as simple as asking customers if it’s alright to put them on hold or not interrupting the customer before they finish speaking can go a long way in making customers feel heard. And customers who feel heard are more apt to keep doing business with your company.
9. Increases Customer Loyalty
Customer retention is now more essential than ever. It only takes one bad experience for a customer to go to a competitor, so your contact center agents must do everything they can to prevent this. Basic phone etiquette skills are the building blocks of providing an exceptional customer experience. Show customers that you care by showing your agents how to speak to customers and make them feel appreciated.
Rather than becoming a lost art, phone etiquette should be an essential part of agent training, especially for agents who may be working from home. These are just some of the ways proper phone etiquette can benefit your customers, your agents, and your company.
To learn more about how CallFinder can help your agents gain critical customer service skills even as they work from home, visit our COVID-19 Resources page for the latest blog posts, white papers, and more.