Everyone has had to deal with at least one bad call center experience in his life, no matter what side of the line he was on.  Why do so many call centers fail in their approaches to business?  Let’s take a look at ten pitfalls of call center tactics and analyze how these common mistakes can be corrected.

1) Failure to maintain an online reputation. Everyone is connected through social media these days. It would be easy for a dissatisfied customer to make a big scene on Facebook or Twitter about your company’s services. On the other hand, it would be just as easy for a happy customer to promote your company’s services through social media through a simple status update or even a “Like” page. Does your call center have a strategy for maintaining an online reputation? If dissatisfied comments start popping up all over the web, will you have a plan to address the problem?  Also, have you deployed an omni-channel environment to meet your customer where they want to be met?

2) Not fully understanding the objectives of the company. Customer service agents needs to know what the company expects and what management holds them accountable for. A lack of communication negatively impacts the company’s profitability.

3) Agent scripts are long and mechanical. When a customer calls, he expects a two-way conversation. If your agent’s scripts are long enough to be written in paragraph form, this can frustrate, annoy and even confuse the customer. The customer might also feel like he is wasting his time. In addition to having a clear and brief script, you should also make your greetings short.

4) The outsourcer isn’t a good fit for the company. Call centers need to be industry-specific. This means they need to know the customers of that particular industry and speak in the same way that the company would.

5) Not grasping the importance of a follow-up. A follow-up has the power to turn an unhappy customer into a customer for life. However, automated follow-ups should be avoided, as customers typically prefer to speak to an actual person when resolving conflict.

6) Management evaluates staff in the wrong way. To cut costs, call centers will often evaluate employees based on how fast they complete calls rather than the level of service they provide to customers. Such an evaluation puts unnecessary stress on the staff. This can lead to high turnover rates and in turn more costs in recruiting and training.

7) Not providing good customer service. Often, companies will hire representatives who are under-qualified and emotionally-detached and then provide them with inadequate training. This in turn leads to more customer dissatisfaction and a loss of profitability.

8) Misconception that more technology will create a better experience for everyone. While technology is a must, too much reliance on it can create customer dissatisfaction. When an upset customer calls the center, she expects an emotional conversation and a personal approach to her problem. Giving her the opposite will make her feel less appreciated as a customer and she will be less likely to purchase from the company in the future.

9) Not testing its own technology. Nothing is more frustrating to a caller than bugs in a calling center’s system. It’s common for call centers to wait to upgrade their technology until they receive customer complaints. Call centers need to be more proactive about technological issues such as poor voice quality, which can lead a customer to hang up and call again. These issues not only frustrate the caller, but also waste the staff’s time. Consider using an automated testing system in addition to random evaluations. Automated testing systems are generally consistent and reliable, thereby saving you money in the long run.

10) The learning curve is low and slow for the majority of call centers. Call centers aren’t properly educating themselves on ways to improve their services. They aren’t seeking the services of reliable consultants to get advice on what works and what doesn’t. Perhaps some of them aren’t spending time on addressing issues at all. Call centers are always going to require routine maintenance and keeping up on the latest news and technologies.  They cannot expect to create a comfort zone out of the same mold used long ago. At the same time, you can learn from call centers of the past, which provided less technology and more personal experiences for customer satisfaction.

Creating and maintaining a good call center program can be tricky, but it isn’t impossible. As long as you are willing to learn from your mistakes as well as the mistakes of others, you have the potential to grow and improve. Because everything is connected, you cannot afford to neglect one aspect of your program in favor of another. Focus on the people, process and technology and how each interacts with the other.

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