Customer experience goes hand in hand with brand loyalty. While retaining customers is important, acquiring new ones is essential for any business. Your agents’ phone etiquette can be the key in both retention and acquisition.
Customer experience is the feeling your customers take away from each interaction with a company through all aspects and touchpoints. Your marketing team is usually tasked with the creation of customer personas, collecting requisite data, and engaging prospects, so it’s critical for marketing teams to work with sales, service, and call center agents, ensuring an organization that delivers exceptional customer experiences.
One of the most important pieces of the customer experience puzzle is phone etiquette. But it isn’t just about how your agents interact with customers and prospects – it’s also has to do with your entire approach. Before the call is even placed, there are things you can do as a call center manager to ensure your calls reach the intended consumer and aren’t marked as Spam or Scam Likely.
How to Engage in Proper Outbound Phone Etiquette
The call itself is only a part of your phone etiquette master plan. True call etiquette begins with your dialing lists – and it ultimately ends with the performance of your call center agents.
What can you do to ensure all phases run smoothly?
Refine Dialing Lists
The first aspect of etiquette begins with your dialing lists. Obviously scrub any lists you have against the national Do-Not-Call (DNC) registry as well as any internal DNC lists your business may have. Additionally, segmenting your lists can refine who your agents are calling and lead to better conversions and customer experiences. For instance, you don’t want to call demographics that cannot use your products or services.
Configure Your Dialer
Optimizing your dialer configuration is key. If your company is still using a power dialer, you should phase out this practice immediately. Nothing can frustrate a consumer more than receiving an unwanted call with no one on the other end. This can lead to phone numbers getting reported or flagged. Additionally, carriers monitor direct inward dialers (DIDs) for call activity. If a number is dialing more than humanly possible, you run the risk of getting flagged automatically.
Swapping out your outbound DIDs throughout the day is also a good tactic to avoid carrier flags. You should have a good number of DIDs to ensure, should you need to retire a certain number, that you have plenty to replace the old number with.
Monitor Your Caller ID
The first impression a consumer gets from your center is your Caller ID. How does it present to the consumer? Monitoring your Caller ID ensures your numbers are not flagged and can ultimately increase answer rates. Plus, if you need to swap out or retire a specific number, you can do so swiftly. Register your phone numbers to your business and utilize tools like enhanced caller ID.
These tips help set your agents up for success. Closing the call now ultimately relies on the training, skills, and overall experience of the calling agent. This is where proper phone etiquette really comes into play.
Agent Phone Etiquette for Outbound Calls
Agents in your call center are the first – and sometimes only – point of contact between you and the customer. Your agents are the face of your company. This is the most important reason you must ensure phone etiquette is part of your agents’ training.
Each time a customer has a great experience with your company, it’s like leveling up in the gaming world. You earn “points” with that customer which can boost their loyalty to your brand and sometimes even turn them into an evangelist of sorts. In other words, the more positive interactions your agents can have with customers increases their lifetime value and greatly boosts brand awareness. Of course, intuitive call center software is important, but it’s not as valuable if your agents haven’t been properly trained to treat each customer properly.
The most important aspects of every call include:
A good calling script can help agents, but sometimes it can be beneficial to go off script, too – hence, flexibility.
The Call – From Dialing to Delivery
So, how should a call progress? The following illustrates how agents should handle each and every call made and answered in your call center.
The agent should introduce themselves and your company – this is a crucial part of building trust. Your agents should announce why they’re calling, the name of the company, and what you can offer as early in the conversation as possible. This eliminates time wasted on uninterested prospects and alleviates frustrations – for both agent and prospect – by not keeping uninterested consumers tied on the line.
Empathy can go a long way in an outbound call. If, for example, a prospect expresses they don’t have time for the call, the agent should inquire about rescheduling at a more opportune time. Offering additional information via email or through other means can also help. This allows the prospect to review your information at their leisure – and without pressure.
Even if a prospect isn’t interested in your service, empathy can result in referrals from others that might be interested. Your prospects may go to bat for you with friends and family if they trust that you empathize with your customers.
Professionalism is key at all times, but especially during a first call with a prospect. Aside from proper grammar and speech, product knowledge is absolutely imperative if you want to engage the prospect to make a purchase. Ensure your agents receive proper, ongoing training. In addition, monitoring calls and offering incentives can also enhance professionalism in your call center.
Offer an Opt Out
Finally, if a prospect is noticeably agitated or otherwise is not interested at the present time, offering an opt out helps instill confidence in your brand. Adding a prospect to an internal do not call list helps relay your credibility – and helps prove your company honestly cares and isn’t out to just make a buck.
Offering quality care to every prospect and customer should be your ultimate priority. Call center managers and their supervisors should create call center etiquette protocols early on. Sufficient funds towards proper training should be allocated. Every outgoing and incoming call’s handling should be monitored to ensure protocols are adhered to. When every agent is on the same page, your call center can function like a well-oiled machine – adding to your company image.
Ensure your campaigns are properly configured from the start and that your agents are adequately trained. This enhances your customers’ experiences and leads to higher conversions. Your call center reputation begins with your caller ID and ends with your agents’ performance.