How To Outsource Your Customer Service Without Pissing Off Your Customers
by Dan Martell on May 25, 2010
Quality customer service is an essential task of every company that hopes to keep its customers coming back. Your customer service department is often your strongest point of contact with your customers, and a pleasant, effective experience will instill in their minds the sense that your business is one that cares about their needs and concerns. Conversely, a negative experience on the phone that does not result in the customer’s problem being solved will leave them stewing in anger and lamenting about how your business is only out for itself and cares not about the long term satisfaction of its loyal patrons. Outsourcing this crucial task poses several problems and requires care and finess to pull off well. If you feel you must outsource, try following these several guidelines to help ensure that your customers are not pissed off by by their customer service experience.
Make sure the agents are totally fluent in English.
Perhaps the fastest way to piss off your customers is to send their problems and concerns with your product to a representative who is not fluent in English. Technical questions can get hairy, and if you throw bad cell phone service or heavy regional accents into the picture, a non-native English speaker might have a very hard time helping your customers solve their issues. Customers can very quickly sense when communication is going to be an issue, and if they need to repeat themselves several times just to be understood, they might become so filled with frustration that they hang up and never buy from you again. Be sure to speak with the team before hiring them and ensure that they can clearly understand you, and that you can clearly understand them.
Experience their support first.
It isn’t always easy to predict how support agents from an outsourced call center will field a routine support call until you actually experience one. If you are thinking about hiring a particular call center, but want to make sure that your customers will be treated with professionalism, consider calling them as a customer for one of their other clients. To do this, ask them to name a few other companies that they provide support for during the interview process. You may then choose one of those companies and call in as a customer with a support question. Take careful notes about your experience on the phone with them, as this is what your customers will be faced with when they call about your products. Did they demonstrate a keen knowledge of the product and a clear understanding of your concern? Were your questions addressed in a timely, effective, and curious manner? Were there any serious language barriers? These are all qualities that will determine whether or not your customers feel at ease calling you for support.
Do regular checks on their performance.
If outsourcing is going to be your company’s long-term customer service solution, you will need to contend with employee turn over and management changes at the call center. When you first enlist their assistance, they may have a fluent speaking team and solid management, but over the course of many years, their performance might go south as new representatives and managers come and go, leaving you with a completely new team that might not be as effective as they once were. In order to maintain a firm grasp on the kind of support your customers are experiencing, consider making anonymous support calls once a month and gauging how good of a job they are still doing.
Ensure continued training.
It is your responsibility to ensure that your customer service team is intimately familiar with the inner workings of all of your company’s new products. In order to outsource effectively, you may want to consider flying a company representative to the call center to provide on-site training on every product your company offers. Be sure to conclude all training sessions with an extensive test to ensure that your team has paid attention and retained all of the information presented. If you simply send them a few new units and a training hand book, you run the risk of your package being ignored, and your customers getting pissed off at the lack of competency your team possesses when they call about an issue.
Record random calls to review later.
Even with the best training and several good test calls sent through your call center, your representatives might still end up enraging your customers. There is simply no way for you to find out how they will field every support question from every type of caller before hiring them, thus they could be unsure of how to answer rare questions, or they might deal poorly with aggravated callers. The only way to maintain a constant pulse on your customer service department is to record a few calls each day at random. In this way, you get a broad sampling of the experience your customers are getting with your call center. If you review the recordings and notice a trend of poorly handled questions, you must address the issues as you see fit in order to keep your customers happy.