Are you a call center agent? Or you run a call center agency? If YES, here are 50 effective customer service tips & tricks for call centers to help treat customers right.

A call centre is without doubt the frontline communication hub of a business, linking you with your customers. A lot of business organisations underestimate the role call centres play in affecting customer service experience. In this competitive age full of alternative options, if your call centre experience isn’t up to standard, your customers will quickly look somewhere else for the products or services you offer. It simply means that a call centre is a key player when it comes to gaining customer loyalty, and ultimately, long-term profitability for your business.

When you fail to serve your customers’ needs through your call centre, the customer experience will be seen as unfavourable and you might begin to lose your identity in the market. In this modern age, call centres shouldn’t just focus on securing a sale; they now need to add value, and cover all aspects of the customer experience, right from providing information to solving problems, capturing data and researching innovative ways to better serve new and existing customers.

It’s very important to state that customers generally have a negative perception of call centres, which is why businesses face the challenge of working hard to make sure customers’ expectations are being met. These customer experiences, from quick call answering, to speaking to a human rather than a machine, being able to understand who they’re talking to, being listened to and feeling like the staff member has gone the extra mile, are necessary to draw customers in.

Even with technology and digitization taking precedence, people still want to talk to a human when they call a call centre. Have it in mind that taking inbound calls is not the only crucial customer service duty, but call centres can also improve consumer experience by making outbound calls for marketing or research.

This can be used to measure opinion, introduce marketing schemes or incentives, reward loyal customers with specific offers or discounts, or to proactively reach out to certain customers who may need some gentle coaxing back to the brand. Leverage the below tips and tricks to keep your customers coming back due to awesome customer service experience.

50 Effective Customer Service Tips & Tricks for Call Centers

  1. Provide the right tools

Reports have it that when a customer calls a support centre, their priority is to speak with a skilled agent and to have their problem solved quickly. This is why for agents to provide accurate information to customers, call centres must deploy a knowledge management tool where company information can be easily accessed to avoid any major setbacks.

  1. Always listen

One of the best experiences customers can have is to know they are being heard and understood. Always listen to your customers and let them know you have heard them by rephrasing and communicating what they have told you. Note that it makes sure you and the customer are on the same page and lets customers know they’ve been heard.

  1. Be courteous

Call centre agents should always respond and treat each caller with courtesy. Ask how they prefer to be addressed, make every attempt to pronounce their name correctly and use this name consistently. Always talk with a smile, remain calm and speak clearly. Don’t forget to wait for the person to finish speaking before speaking. It will go a long way in helping you interact with the caller in a positive and professional manner.

  1. Give them assurance

Customers always want to feel confident in your ability to see them through their problems or situations. This is why you have to let them know that you have their best interests at heart. Be present, communicate often and always follow through.

Make it easy for customers to understand, relate to and purchase your product. Simplify your system, but not your product. You want to maintain the distinction of being an authority while making yourself and your product accessible.

  1. Be Patient

Indeed customers can and may be frustrated when they make contact, so patience is without doubt a trait every call centre should have. It’s very pertinent that agents give customers an opportunity to explain their situation in full and never react negatively to an unhappy customer.

Note that when customers are in need of an explanation about an issue, agents should put customers at ease by explaining the solution calmly and patiently while remembering that customers sometimes get things mixed up. The calmer agents manage to keep themselves, the more successful they become.

While making outbound calls, few prospects give annoying responses; they become rude and slam the phone at times. Even during inbound calls customers take out their frustration because of their complaints. Indeed this demoralizes the rep’s spirit because they cannot respond in the same manner.

  1. Dump the script

One thing with scripts is that they can be memorized; meaning that you know what you need to say. But it’s advisable you customize it so that it addresses the needs and desires of your customers. Note that the only way to do that is to listen and respond to the conversation at hand. Get off the script. Get engaged and talk with your caller with ease and confidence.

  1. Win them with kindness

When a customer calls and is visibly angry with the product or service of the company, remember to be extra courteous and show kindness but not to a great extent, they might get the feeling that you are fake. You should be sincere and respectful, show sympathy for their situation and empathy for their frustration. Experts believe that by showing kind gestures, you can ease the customer’s worries and soothe their anger.

This practice never fails- it might not work to the fullest, but it can help the agent win half the battle. Try not to fall into the trap of getting angry too when you are dealing with difficult customers, there is an expectation that you will counter back. Instead surprise them, soften your voice and show loads of courtesy and etiquette.

  1. Please and thank you

Just like we were told growing up, good manners will take you far in life. There’s nothing wrong with being effective and a pleasure. Try to always be a little ball of sunshine to your customers and let them know by the way you handle them that you value them. Thank them for calling. Be grateful for the opportunity to interact with your customers.

  1. Strategize with Agents

Statistics has it that 75% of customers would like the option to be called back rather than wait on hold, yet many call centres still don’t provide a call-back option. When you involve agents in the decision making process you will clearly discover new ways to not only make their jobs easier, but also improve the customer experience.

  1. No waiting

You should never leave your customer on hold for more than 30 seconds. If the interruption is that important, take down your customer’s phone number and get right back to them as soon as you are done putting out whatever thing that caused you to eject from the conversation in the first place. Customers appreciate great service, but they love a gesture that shows real appreciation for their business. Call centre agents who go the extra mile often win over customers.

  1. Clarify customer complaints

Sometimes customers aren’t clear when communicating a problem. Your customers might not be so sure of the problem, they may be frustrated about making the call and it is affecting their communication. This is the more reason why your own communication needs to be very efficient.

Note that open-ended questions – who, what, where, when and how – will always deliver information, while closed questions deliver confirmation. Use closed questions to help you control the conversation and allow you to proceed quickly to a resolution.

When you need information use the open questions but include the word ‘exactly’. For instance, Can you please tell me when exactly this problem started? Have it mind that using the word ‘exactly’ will encourage your customer to be more exact with their response, which will allow you to resolve the problem quickly.

  1. Always put your best foot forward

In this new age and with intense competition aided by technological advancement, customer service is not a job to be relegated to whomever you can get in to fill the post. Customer service is key in building a business and achieving profitability.

It’s advisable that you have your people manning the phones. Satisfied customers are repeat customers. Dissatisfied customers tweet. Almost every customer-centric environment has some form of self-service. Operators need to be very aware of how user friendly it is and how user friendly it sounds.

  1. Have in-depth knowledge about the company’s products and services

When call centre agents have thorough understanding of the features and specifications of a product, they then make little efforts to solve any query or sell the product. Research has shown that it results in creating credibility, trust and leaves an impression on the prospect’s mind. Also it goes a long way to boost the confidence of the agent and helps them to sell more.

  1. Give the right call to the right person

It’s very important that any member of your team who performs any client-facing activity – whether it’s delivering sales presentations or installing HVAC systems – should be trained in how to listen to, talk to and relate to your customer.

They are the vanguard of your team and can always win you the war when approached right. After they must have gained the knowledge, give them the authority to act on it. Let them make the decisions and not have to seek approval from a superior. If the call is presented to the right person, they will take it in their stride.

  1. Be professional

All call centre agents should sustain a level of professionalism throughout the entire conversation with a customer. Call centres act as the face of the company, so they should have adequate training and should be monitored for adherence to company standards.

All conversations should be in line with corporate values and goals. Agents should not offer opinions or introduce their own biases into the conversation. They should always take a neutral stance on issues, but empathize with caller’s needs. Taking a neutral stance will allow agents to solve problems in an efficient manner.

  1. Write a note

Just very few agents do this these days, but every now and then send a handwritten thank you card to your client. This simple little gracious act will make you a customer service star. It will show your customers how much they mean to you and how often thoughts about them comes to your mind.

  1. Timeliness

You need to understand that timelessness is very important in customer service. Agents should be swift in responding to inquiries and prepared to switch to another channel if a case needs more attention. Deliveries and additional tasks should be handled promptly, while brands should provide customers’ options such as call backs to further achieve efficiency.

  1. Design a solution that bridges the gap

After you must have let your customer finish with the complaints, it’s time for you to gather the facts by asking questions and solve the problem. Remember that you are an agent and you cannot stick with one client all day; you have your targets to meet.

Also, in a bid to wrap up a call, you cannot give them a temporary solution. This is why you have to take a little extra time to solve their query and satisfy them. The ultimate solution should be fair and justifiable for both parties; the customer and the company.

  1. Be human

You have to understand that you are human and not a computer, and humans are not all-knowing. So when you don’t know something, admit you don’t know. Go to work finding out for your customer and they will appreciate you for it.

Be a friend who’s willing to help them solve their problems, don’t claim to be all knowing when you might end up not achieving your purpose. It’s uncomfortable dealing with someone who is all-business all the time. Show your customer that you are multi-dimensional. Be business, but be laid back too. The complexity of the various elements of your persona makes you more likable and relatable.

  1. Share Real-Time Metrics with Agents

It’s natural to always want to know what people think of you and the services you render. By regularly sharing customer feedback with agents, you acknowledge their work and motivate them to do better—or at the very least keep their performance consistent.

Reports have it that 92% of call centre leaders see high value in sharing metrics in real-time with frontline agents. The top 5 metrics of greatest value when shared in real-time are: number of calls in queue, service level, customer satisfaction, schedule adherence and first-contact resolution.

Also note that one of the best ways to improve your own performance is to get tips from someone who is doing well. Sit in on calls with a successful call centre agent and listen to how they manage their calls and handle customer interactions. Then, incorporate their techniques into your own dealings with customers. By following others footsteps, you can add extra efficiency in your work.

  1. Minimize robots and recordings

Have it in mind that customers who get the chance to engage with a real person on their first call are twice as likely to do business with you. Even if they use an automated system, they want a trap door so that they can get easy access to an agent if need be. It’s advisable that your access includes multiple ways of reaching you – email, phone, social media, web chats.

  1. Whatever you tell yourself – it’s true

Research has shown that once we start to believe something, it manifests itself in our body language, facial expressions and voice. This means that when you believe your next call is going to result in disappointment, your body language and the emotion in your voice will express disappointment. Have it at the back of your mind that no one wants to listen to someone who sounds disappointed on the phone.

The effect works in a positive way too. You should start telling yourself your calls will improve. Believe it to make sure your body language, facial expressions and voice respond positively by being happier, optimistic and confident. That feeling and vibe is what your customer wants to feel and hear, so that they can make an informed decision to buy.

  1. Get feedback often

In business and customer service experience, feedback is invaluable. Anytime you talk to your customer, always ensure to ask them what you can do to make their experience more enjoyable. Customer feedback has been known to change the way companies do business.

  1. Give importance to customer’s identity

Note that always inquiring about your customers’ details during every call bugs them. To avoid this, train the reps to use CRM solutions. This business tool works in improving company’s customer service practices by helping employees respond to client’s queries quickly and effectively. It will go a long way to save the customer’s time and improves agent productivity and efficiency.

It even works in providing speedy bookkeeping and accurate financial reporting of the customer. Reports have shown that 50% of call centre agents have been using CRM for over a year, and they tend to have a high level of CRM expertise.

  1. Be present and Focused

Nothing is as bad as trying to hold a conversation with someone who is texting, multi-tasking, talking to other people in the room or just plain not paying attention. Don’t even think about grabbing your cell phone while you’re engaging with a client. Your attention should go solely to the client until the call ends or the problem is solved. Try not to be distracted and remain focused to your duty to the customer.

  1. Give credence to customer complaints

It’s very important that you understand that harsh words are not always indicative of insight, and complaining customers are not always a sign that something is wrong. In business, sometimes great feedback is buried within the vitriol—give credence to every message. Note that getting the same complaint repeatedly is the beginning of a narrative. This shouldn’t dictate what to do next, but it will begin to reveal what needs to be treated or done.

  1. Solve their problems

Indeed it can be very tempting to be more concerned with the products you’re peddling than the issues your customers are facing. But try as much as possible to listen extensively to them so that you can provide solutions to their problems. Once you know and understand the problem, fix it for them. Therein lies your value.

  1. Be honest

The importance of honesty in this line of business cannot be overestimated. All call centre agents should always be honest with their customers and with themselves. Agents should never lie, guess or make up an answer. For instance, if the customer’s problem is way beyond their competence level, the agent should politely explain that they will transfer the customer to an employee who can better address the problem and solve it.

  1. Establish a flow of communication

All members of your call centre needs to understand the movement of information – from your C suite managers to your newest members of the talent pool. When customer suggestions come in, there should be a system in place to get those suggestions to the people who can evaluate the suggestions and make changes if necessary.

  1. Be mindful of your attitude

Is the glass half empty or half full? Is customer service an opportunity to serve or a necessary evil? Whatever your perspective, your customer will sense your attitude. Service is an opportunity to engage your customer and create positive experiences. Customers are the live and sustenance of any profitable business and the will always notice your views in your words and attitude. Be mindful of how you act and speak, it might make or break a business.

  1. Clear communication

It’s very important agents create a suitable balance between giving thorough answers, using a professional vocabulary, and being conversational and approachable all at the same time. Agreeable, it is no easy task, but agents should work hard to keep their exchanges concise and necessary and resist the urge to overdo small talk. Have it in mind that customers do need that human touch, and it’s always crucial to make introductions at the outset. Also do not forget that they value their time, so communication should be to the point.

  1. Service is king

Always keep constant contact with your customer. The days of keeping customers at arm’s length are long gone. Get connected and stay connected. Also if you find out a customer has achieved personal or professional success in some area, celebrate him or her. Send a handwritten note of congratulations. They will appreciate you for it, since even their closest friends didn’t likely send them a handwritten note.

  1. Apologize for their inconvenience

Indeed it can be hard for call centre agents not to lose their temper after so much of yelling and barking. But the customers impact the company’s profitability directly. Feel obliged to apologize and say sorry whether they are right or wrong.

Note that it will give a good impression and make them calm. This way you can save a customer whose mind was already made up to switch to your competitors. Your words can make or break the deal, so choose your actions wisely.

  1. Find Ways to Give Praise

Statistics has it that 31% of organizations recognize and reward employees across the company for improving customer experience. That number is far too low. How can agents be expected to come to work every day and deliver outstanding performance with little to no recognition?

Note that incentivising agents through gamification techniques with awards and quarterly bonuses validates their work and will raise performance levels accordingly, especially their approach to work.

  1. Be fast

Indeed consistency is key in the call centre business, but no one wants to be consistently bad or consistently slow. Not having fast, simple access to accurate and up-to-date information is often an agent’s downfall. It stands to reason that agents need one common knowledge base that works across all channels – from phone and email to social media.

But without a fast powerful search mechanism it could still mean a frustrating wait for the agent and customer. This is why easy, fast access to relevant and accurate information will ensure more productive agents and in the long term, create ongoing customer loyalty.

  1. Know how to close a conversation

It’s very important to state that your ability to close a conversation successfully improves every single interaction. This is not closing a sale, it’s closing the conversation with a customer. Leaving an issue unresolved creates unnecessary problems. Note that as little as 4% of dissatisfied customers will ever speak up. Some people find it very tough to communicate what is bothering them, because you haven’t communicated that you care or can be trusted.

  1. Remember the other 93%

Experts believe communication is only 7% verbal. The remaining falls within tone of voice and body language. When you’re communicating digitally, don’t forget that your tone won’t be captured with one or two word answers. Always take some time to flesh out a response that does a better job of creating a positive customer experience. When you meet in person, watch your tone and body language and pay attention to your customer’s tone and body language as well.

  1. Concentrate on the customer, rather than selling

The whole attention of a call centre agent should be on customer’s interest and what they need, and not pushing them to buy the company’s product. Focusing more on understanding the requirements of the prospect and empathize their situation will at the end convince the customer to patronize the product. Doing this grows customer’s faith in you and they tend to build a relationship.

  1. Recap

Anytime you are settling customer problems and complains, always make sure you tell your customer what they can expect from you as the next course of action. Do what you say you will do and follow up with your customer. This will give them a sense of belonging and confidence that you actually know what you’re doing, and you should know.

  1. Remember different types of customers

Customers needing basic service are growing tolerant of an automated process – and indeed are happy with it. But when customers reject this service – perhaps because they want a more complicated service than they are being offered, one that necessitates them actually speaking to somebody – then you need to take another look at your processes to make sure customers remain on the line long enough to resolve enquiries.

  1. Qualify yourself

Have it in mind there is nothing wrong with tooting your own horn as long as the tune you play appeals to your customer. So when providing a review of your own services, instead of saying, “I’m the best in town,” instead tell prospective customers why your current customers choose to work with you. Give them a reason to need your service and not just bore them with words they hear from every Dick and Tom in the business.

  1. Use Positive Language

Research has shown that people have the tendency to mimic each other, whether it’s body language, tone of voice or even someone’s vocabulary. These nuances can be mirrored across the call centre and directly onto customers. To provide excellent customer service and keep a positive disposition, this communication needs to come from the top down. By avoiding negative words like “can’t,” “won’t” or “don’t,” you can reduce the Customer Effort Score by over 15%

  1. Make your customer sing your praise

Indeed bad customer experiences are the perfect opportunity to turn the table around. Go above and beyond the call of duty to remedy bad customer experiences. Turn your accusers into advocates, and watch them talk about how reliable you can be.

  1. Beat their expectations

No matter what your client is expecting from you, always strive to be one step ahead. Look after them the way you want to be treated. It’s advisable that you take out additional time to listen and understand their problems and provide a quicker solution. Proactively solve their issues before the deadline you commit. Also send them a text, an email, or call as soon as you resolve their query. Note that to keep customers happy, you must always exceed their expectations.

  1. Customize

Anytime you receive an email inquiry from a prospect, answer immediately, addressing them by name. Learn to personalize your exchange to build good will and be sure to include your direct number and your email address in your signature.

  1. Organization

When speaking to a customer, agents must be organized at all times to deliver timely service. It simply means being able to navigate efficiently between different windows in a CRM database as well as switching channels when required.

  1. Relax

You need to learn how to relax because is the only way to truly make a connection with your customer. Tension and anxiety affect the natural flow of interpersonal vibes. When you are relaxed, you can listen more attentively and provide good solutions for your customer.

  1. Be interested

As a call centre agent, it’s pertinent that you take a genuine interest in the customer’s question or concerns. Note that this will make the process more enjoyable for both the agent and the caller. Call centre work can be very monotonous. You have to keep it fresh by picking up a genuine interest in each caller’s unique situation, asking personal questions and attempting to make a quick connection.

  1. Make your customer feel important

Value proposition, market positioning and other business jargon aside, the fastest way to anyone’s heart is to make them feel needed and respected. Your customer is no different. You need to make them feel important and you will put yourself leaps and bounds ahead of your competitors. Strive to understand your customers. Know what they know. Feel what they feel. Empathy is the way to truly engage and satisfy your customer.

  1. Let them have their way

You should also learn to let your customers buy in the way that’s most comfortable to them. You may prefer that all your sales are done online, but if that’s not what your customers want, they may go elsewhere. The customer is always right.

Also there are books in the market that tell you how to say difficult things and how to respond to negative situations. You should have such a script in your business. Write down a few standardized responses for your team to memorize.

In conclusion, understanding how to offer your customers stellar service is the one thing you can use to claim a distinctive market share in the business world. Although it’s not always an easy task, but always try to think of your customers as fellow business owners, service providers, retailers, moms and dads then work from there.

The key to good customer service is understanding that first and foremost it’s a human interaction. You need to understand that excellent customer service serves as the life-blood of a call centre business.

Solomon. O'Chucks