In order to provide full-circle quality service and value to your customers, your customer support has to be top-notch, no matter which industry you’re in.
Many businesses focus on departments that directly boost revenue, such as sales or marketing. Still, even though customer service is a support business activity, its importance cannot be highlighted enough.
Customer support serves as a first-hand representation of your business, its operations, values and brand message. For instance, if you invest a lot in marketing and skimp on customer support, it can all come tumbling down. A 2017 survey from American Express found out that 33% of Americans would consider switching companies after only one instance of poor customer service.
When talking about customer support services, one of the primary focuses should definitely be phone support. It’s still one of the most used channels for reaching company representatives. Different studies have shown that reasons for reaching a company via phone include expected efficiency, quicker response time and need for expert help.
According to the Live Chat Benchmark Report from 2017, customers are more likely to contact a real person via phone (40% of respondents) if an issue is more complex, such as a payment dispute or a technical complaint.
In this overview, we have prepared some of the most resourceful ways to improve your phone customer support efforts.
Respond to Calls Faster
What’s the number one reason customers are unhappy with phone support? Long response time. This means different things for different people (according to their patience level), but it’s generally considered to be any interaction with a waiting period longer than 15 minutes.
According to RightNow’s Customer Experience report, 77% of customers think it takes too long to be connected to a live agent. A customer will wait 11 minutes on average before hanging up.
If you want to improve your customer support and be known for fast response time, you will have to answer each call in under a minute or two. Everything under two minutes is considered very efficient for phone support.
If you don’t know where you stand right now, you can use a tool like Super Office that tracks response time for every call and calculates the average.
In order to respond to calls faster, you will have to streamline your entire operating system. For example, if you’re understaffed and you want to achieve more with fewer agents, you have to drastically reduce the average call time.
When customers try to reach a business via phone, what they are mostly expecting compared to other channels is efficiency. Ideally, your support team knows which channel works the best and should provide a recommendation on where to contact the company.
This can function on an as-needed basis. For example, if you have a short queue and enough staff, you can simply direct your calls to direct phone support. However, if there is a very long queue and you’re understaffed, you can turn on a message that will tell the customer that email, chat or another method of contact will result in a faster response.
Another popular way of offering an alternative solution that will circumvent the need to talk to an agent is a step-by-step issue guide. You can prepare some of the most common issues in advance and record the steps to resolve them.
For example, if the most common customer question for your support team is “where is my package”, you can pre-record an instructions message that will explain how to track the delivery and find the current location of a package without having to talk to an agent.
Offer a Call Back Option
Everyone knows this: waiting in line can be extremely annoying. You have probably already had a number of horrendous experiences like this, where you are impatiently standing by for a real human being to pick up, after listening to waiting music for 45 minutes.
A very simple solution (that many companies still don’t use) is to offer an option to get a call back from a company representative after the customer reaches the front of the line.
This will allow the customer to focus on other tasks and activities instead of waiting, and they will be much less annoyed when they receive a call back than if they had been waiting for an hour.
Optimize Phone Support Service with Cloud-based Tools
Technology has come very far when it comes to CRM tools. You can use some of the best support tools out there to help you optimize your business.
Here are some of the most popular tools along with their main features:
- HelpScout – allows you to manage all your customer support channels (phone, email, chat) from one platform for optimized performance, along with reports and statistics
- SalesForce – when used in customer support, SalesForce can provide valuable insight into the customer’s issue history and previous contact
- ZenDesk – a software tool focusing exclusively on customer support through a ticket system; used by some of the world’s biggest brands
- LiveAgent – a multi-channel help desk experience that allows you to increase the efficiency of your phone support
- Zoho Desk – customer support tools featuring call center software, live chat management, ticketing system and more
Use Native Speakers for Foreign Languages
Many businesses opt for bot and chat support when it comes to foreign languages. However, even if the smallest percentage of your customers comes from foreign markets, it’s worth it to invest in local language speakers.
Giving your international customers the option to address your company in their native language is a huge asset. It exudes professionalism, great preparedness and respect for the company’s foreign markets.
Let’s say a US business wants to enter the Russian market. There is a specific language gap here because not only are they two completely different languages, but they use different lettering systems. In order to find English-to-Russian translation services, businesses can use localization platforms such as PickWriters that will help them translate to the target language.
The first step would be to add a Russian-language customer support page that will provide Russian customers with information on when, where and how they can talk to an agent on the phone.
For customer support, you can find thousands of customer support agents and virtual assistants in most of the world’s languages on platforms such as Upwork or Toptal.
No matter how much effort you’re putting in your phone customer support, there is always room for improvement. This can be especially applied now, with the increased offer of customer relationship management (CRM software) and customer interactivity tools.
Before you start streamlining and improving your phone support, you first have to diagnose your weakest points. If your response time is over 15 minutes, this is the first issue that you should be dealing with.
If you have managed to achieve fast, high-quality support, it might be time to expand support in other languages for international markets.