The phrase ‘Voice of the Customer’ has become very popular recently, with businesses focusing their efforts on listening to their customers and understanding exactly what their needs and desires are. Nowhere is the actual ‘Voice of the Customer’ more often encountered than via the call center, which means call centers and their agents should be at the center of any company’s customer experience programs.
In fact, call centers are deemed so important at Amazon, that CEO Jeff Bezos ensures that all of his managers, himself included, attend two days of call center training every year.
Investing in call center agents
The call center is often the first, and sometimes the only, time a customer gets to talk to a representative of your company, so you have to make the experience a successful and remarkable one – you want your customers to be so impressed with your agents’ knowledge and telephone manner that they will want to tell others about their experience.
This can only happen if you put the necessary investment into recruiting and training your agents. If you are tempted to cut costs in this area, be aware that all of your marketing, product development and feedback capture will be for nothing if poorly trained agents drive your customers away when they come through to the call center.
A decent call center agent training program will result in agents who are diplomatic and courteous, knowledgeable about your products and the industry and skilled at identifying customers’ needs, even those that are hidden in the initial conversation.
In-house or outsourcing?
Outsourcing your call center is not something that should be considered lightly. It is true that there is a lot of potential for cutting operating costs, but you have to be confident that your chosen call center is capable of delivering the remarkable service your customers expect. Before committing to outsourcing your call center you should ensure there is an effective management structure in place and that all agents assigned to your business have sufficient industry experience, are well-trained and receive regular and rigorous appraisals.
The call center itself also needs to be equipped with the technology and infrastructure required to operate effectively.
The role of call center technology
The most important asset of a call center is its people, but technology helps to make the most of every encounter you have with your customers. The latest call center technology can integrate data from multiple channels (from online, telephone, mobile and face-to-face interactions); host live chat platforms, an increasingly efficient and popular way for customers to access support and information; distribute workload efficiently, streamlining business operations and provide in-depth monitoring of calls and data analysis.
In the end, deciding where your call center is to be based is less important than its overall quality. A combination of highly trained, skilled and happy call center agents with up-to-date, smart, 21st Century technology is a potent tool in the quest to really hear the ‘Voice of the Customer’, and provide every one of them with a remarkable experience they will remember for a long time – and will want to share with others.