Excellent Customer Service on the Phone – Part III-D (The Last Article)

From May 23, 2013 until June 5, 2013; we have presented five (5) different articles about Providing Excellent Customer Service over the Phone.  We have discussed all the tips, guidelines, reminders, and the important concepts that surround the following stages or key components of a typical call flow as we know them, namely:

Stage 1: Opening the Call

Stage 2: Listening and Comprehension

Stage 3: Probing (which involves Paraphrasing too)

Stage 4: Responding Appropriately and Intelligently

Stage 5: Telephone Etiquette and Courtesy

Stage 6: Handling Customer Complaints

Stage 7: Providing a Helluva (Hell of a) Customer Care Experience

Stage 8: Call Control with Results.

For today, which is our last article under this topic, we will briefly but thoroughly put meaning to the last stage of a call, which is CLOSING THE CALL WITH IMPACT.

STAGE IX:  CLOSING THE CALL WITH IMPACT

The last stage or key component that we have not discussed yet and that will conclude our three part (six-segment) blog series about Excellent Customer Service on the Phone is none other than, of course, Closing the Call.

However, how do agents close their call with impact? How do they ensure that when they deliver their closing script, their customers will not forget them and will release the phone on their end feeling happy that they called and feeling very satisfied and relieved?  Is it about what agents do at this point or simply what they say in conclusion that makes the difference?  As we all know, calls that start well end well.  But just to add to that, calls that end well keep customers as well.

Without further ado, let us now talk about the different tips all agents must guide themselves with to close their call with a BANG!

Extending Help

Before any agent delivers his closing spiel, he must first make sure that there is nothing else the customer needs help with.  This is very substantial because nobody wants to discover that one’s previous customer whose concern has already been addressed on the first contact (or so one thinks so) or the last call is calling back.  The thing is, this could be for the same issue or something else that could have already been discussed when the customer was still on the line or before he was let go the last time.

Extending help promotes first call or first contact resolution because customers do not have to call back for an additional concern or problem they forgot to report during the previous conversation.  They do not have to give a callback because the agent they spoke with before had extended help and ensured that everything was covered.  Thus, every agent must do this unless their clients state that they are not very particular with this or they do not require it.  Nonetheless, nobody loses anything doing this so why not?.

To be able to extend help, agents may just ask questions like:

     “Is there anything else I can help you with?”

     “Would that be all?”

     “Will there be anything else?”

Hot Tips on Leaving a Lasting Positive Impact

Extending help on the call by confirming if the customer does not have anything else he needs assistance with is just the initial step in ending a call with a bang.  The next is leaving a positive and unforgettable impression that does not just lie in how the customer got treated but also lies in how the call ended or what the agent said in passing.

Below are some tips for closing a call right.

  • Agents should make sure to review the conversation before delivering one’s closing spiel.  On top of extending help,  summarizing a call also does the trick.  One benefit of wrapping up a call by giving the customer a rundown of what was discussed, what one did for him, what will be done in the future, and what he needs to do on his end for his part, is FIRST CALL RESOLUTION.  If everything about the customer’s reason for calling has been covered, talked about, and accomplished; then he will not need to call again unless he needs to ring up anew for a different concern. Another one would be it educates the customer about what he can do by himself the next time the same issue comes up (provided he can really fix it on his own) and what he has to be reminded about.  For sure, he would appreciate being told about these things before hanging up and he will most likely remember the agent for doing it in a positive way.

  • Thank the caller and let him know it is great doing business with him.  As discussed previously, customers love to be flattered.  It makes them feel great about themselves.  It also makes them be at ease with the agent.  So, agents should also do this before they let go of their customers.  They can thank them for taking time to give them a call and for continuing to patronize their current product, service, or subscription. They can say something like “Thank you for calling us and bringing this concern to our attention.  We just like you to know it has always been great doing business with you”, “It has been a pleasure working with you on this issue and thank you for contacting us today”, or “We appreciate your business.  Just give us a call again in case this issue resurfaces or for anything else”.  Who would not treat these statements as music to their ears?

  • Say the best courtesy statements before ending the call.  There are several things that agents can tell their customers before ending their calls.  They are:
    • “Thank you for calling. We appreciate your business.”

    • “Thanks for your order.”

    • “Feel free to call us about anything.”

    •  “I am glad we were able to help.”

    • “Goodbye, and thanks for calling.”

    •  “I enjoyed talking with you.”

    • “If you have any additional questions, please call us.” 

  • Guarantee that any unfinished business that should be done off-the-phone will be accomplished and any commitment will be fulfilled.  In cases when an agent promises to or has to do something else related to a customer’s issue off the phone because it will take long and it is not practical to work on it while the customer is on the line, he is ought to guarantee the customer that he will really work on it the soonest time he could.  Also, when he has committed to do something and promises to fulfill it, he should comfort or assure his customer that he has his word.  Customers feel great when they hear that what they want, wish, like, desire, or need is coming true or is being granted, fulfilled, or given.  So, if this applies, then agents should never miss out on giving them an assurance.

  • If there is any next step that the customer has to be reminded about, agents should not forget to inform him about it.  Similar to the previous item, agents should also remind their customers about what they should do on their end to take part in resolving their own concern and what they (the agents) promise to take care of on their end themselves.  Once again, it is all about making them feel that both they and their reason for calling are valued and are not taken for granted.  Without a doubt, they will cherish an agent who keeps this in mind and actually puts it into practice.

  • Leave the customer feeling great that he made a call and he got to talk to customer service or technical support.  I have always emphasized on the importance and benefit of commending, flattering and praising the customers and making them feel good.  When they are made feeling great they called or about themselves, they value the experience they had with the agent and everything else that came with it.  The positive result is, when an emailed survey or evaluation is sent to them, they most likely give the highest or even perfect scores to the agent who assisted them well.

  • Let the customer hang up first.  Between the agent and his customer, the latter should always hang up first.  It is a common policy among some, if not all, call centers to require agents to wait for their callers to release or hang up on their end first.  They should never hang up or release the call on their end even if the call already ended after the agent had said his closing spiel. One rationale behind this is there are some valid and real-life cases in which a customer thinks there is nothing else he needs help with only to find out something else or remember another topic he wants to discuss to the agent on the line.  Of course, he cannot do it anymore because the agent already hung up on him or released the call on his end.  On the contrary, had the agent waited, then he could have given the customer the chance to bring up something else.

So, there you have it.  This ends our three-part; six-section blog series about Excellent Customer Service on the Phone.  I hope that after reading all of my articles, given that they have really followed and read all six articles, call center ladies and gentlemen already know how to provide the best customer service experience there is and they already know how to be the best and the most ideal call center agent that they can be.

With these must-dos being referred to, done and guided by; it is not surprising if they end being the top agent in their respective account, raking in performance bonuses and other incentives more often than the usual, and being considered as a candidate for a well-deserved promotion.

BE EQUIPPED. 🙂

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