10 Key Strategies on How to Improve Customer Service Skills
If you’re in the business of selling products or services, chances are you operate at least one inbound call center. After all, most companies do. But are you running yours at the highest possible efficiency?
Call centers are vital for addressing customer queries, offering support, and facilitating sales. They employed over 2.83 million people in 2020 in the US alone, and the industry’s value is estimated to reach $436 billion by 2027. However, running an inbound call center at full capacity is harder than it may seem.
According to a recent study, companies lose around $75 billion per year in sales due to poor customer service. To help you avoid losing customers and revenue, too, we’ve assembled a list of 10 proven tips to increase your call center sales.
#1 Train Your Agents
The need to cultivate your agents’ hard skills is self-evident, but they are not the only thing you should focus on. Companies often underestimate the importance of soft skills and pay a heavy price. Every agent should be able to leverage empathy and persuasion in their day-to-day tasks.
Talking with customers is the most crucial part of a call center agent’s work, so training your team to communicate efficiently makes perfect sense. This includes everything, starting with knowing how to sound confident thanks to voice modulation and pitch, understanding how to deal with each type of customer, and being able to choose the best words and phrases.
Last but not least, you must ensure your call center agents have a good grasp of your company, its products and services, and everything that comes with them. Not only does this help boost your employees’ confidence, but it also builds customer trust.
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#2 Choose the Best Tools for the Job
How agents conduct themselves during a call is just one piece of the puzzle. Bad audio quality, lag, jitter, or any other technical capabilities can ruin any call, so you and your agents have to be prepared to deal with them.
Of course, the best approach is to avoid them entirely. You can have your employees attend a tech check, where a skilled colleague will lead them through the intricacies of using your calling software correctly and efficiently. Having a robust, well-optimized VoIP system also doesn’t hurt at that point.
For example, CloudTalk offers all its users high-quality audio and video at a reasonable price, along with a wide variety of features and integrations, including Automatic Call Distribution (ACD), Interactive Voice Response (IVR), power dialer software, and more. In other words, everything you could need to make your calling workflows as easy and intuitive as possible.
But if you’re consistently experiencing problems during your calls, taking the time and carrying out a packet loss test is a good idea. It will help you determine where the issues might stem from and troubleshoot the causes. Consider making them a regular part of your monthly workflow, and you’ll soon find that prevention really is the best cure.
#3 Cater to Your Target Audience
Cold calling often gets a bad rap. And not unreasonably so! It can be a real headache for both your agents and the potential clients they’re targeting, as it tends to lead to uncomfortable interactions. If that’s a problem your call center struggles with, you have two options. You could continue doing what you’re doing and take some inspiration from our List of Cold Calling Templates to improve your success rate…
Or, you could try changing your approach to only target the most relevant clients for your products and services. Reach out to the leads most open to hearing from you and communicating with you. Customers convert best when they can first anticipate your message and, second, feel as though it’s relevant to them.
How can you tell who those customers are? Well, to find out, you’ll need to divide your audience into specific segments based on the nature of their interactions with your company. From there, you’ll want to narrow down your selection to only those people who are at an appropriate point in your sales funnel.
The best way of doing that is by incorporating Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software into your activities. You can streamline the process further by integrating the CRM into your call center software. CloudTalk, for example, works with many CRM providers, including Zendesk, HubSpot, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and more.
#4 Personalize Your Conversations
Earlier, we mentioned that companies lose around $75 billion yearly due to poor customer service, and not personalizing messaging is a big part of that. As people, we’re all unique and want to be treated as such. And the customers your agents talk to are no different.
To maximize your sales, you need to make sure your employees know how to treat customers to make them feel valued. Luckily, this isn’t that hard to do, and just addressing the client by their
name is a step in the right direction. But if you really want to boost your conversion rates, we recommend using a CRM.
Leads create a lot of data, and it’d be silly not to take advantage of it. Let your customers’ industry and company role influence your messaging. Reference previous interactions you’ve had with them to show you care or make small talk about their interests on social media. The data gives you nearly endless opportunities; all you need to do is take advantage of them.
#5 Set Attainable Expectations & Track the Right Metrics
Companies tend to be too optimistic when setting expectations for their employees. But when those expectations aren’t within the realm of possibility, all you’re doing is setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. That’s why you need to be SMART about choosing your goals.
SMART goals are ones that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-limited. The two parts of the acronym you should focus on are “Measurable” and “Relevant”. Starting with the first one, you’ll need to pick the right metrics to track your progress on the company’s various initiatives. These are different for each business, so we recommend taking the time to nail these down before you do anything else.
From there, you can focus on choosing your goals. Base your decisions on past data to establish realistic progress and timelines. And in case you have trouble finding the right milestones for your organization, benchmark – compare yourself to competitors and industry leaders to identify room for improvement and prioritize the areas where you’re behind.
#6 Don’t Force Sales
Although your agents’ ultimate goal is to make a sale, you need to teach them not to pursue deals blindly at the customer’s expense. As we’ve said before, people want to feel valued and respected, and treating them as little more than a revenue source won’t win you any favors.
Prioritize a humane approach above sales, and the money will roll in regardless. Again, this comes down to an approachable and respectful attitude and a pleasant tone of voice. Have your employees ask questions, listen actively to the customer’s wants and needs, and only push for a sale when the moment is right.
#7 Sell Benefits, Not Features
Salespeople often fall into the trap of selling features, not solutions. However, customers can find information about all those flashy design flairs and big numbers on your website, so why not tell something new and interesting?
You must remember that people buy products and services because they have problems and need solutions. If you want to convince them to take the plunge, your best bet is to explain how your product applies to their specific use case and what benefits it holds.
Don’t be afraid to mention testimonials and your past experiences. Tweak your explanations to apply to the customer’s industry, and make sure to highlight your brand promise.
#8 Upsell and Cross-Sell
A sale should not be a one-time thing. If you’ve already gone through the trouble of cultivating a relationship with a customer and convinced them to buy from you, chances are high that you’ll be able to do it again – this time even more easily. After all, repeat customers can be one of the biggest contributors to your yearly revenue, and it’d be a shame to miss out on that opportunity.
The two best practices to help you land that extra sale are upselling and cross-selling. But what’s the difference?
Upselling is when you offer your customers an “upgrade” on the product or service they’re already using. Often, this takes the form of multiple pricing tiers, like “Standard”, “Advanced”, and “Pro”. The more expensive the tier, the more features it comes with.
You can try upselling a client even when they first purchase a product by touting all the amazing things your higher tier has that the cheaper tier lacks. But upselling works best when you give the users time to acclimate. Once they’ve been using your product or service for a while, contact them again to explain how an upgrade could improve their experience even further.
Cross-selling, on the other hand, focuses on selling the client a completely different product that works well with their initial purchase. For example, if someone buys your marketing tool, you can try selling them a CRM that helps extend the original tool’s functionality while offering its own set of benefits.
#9 Call from a Local Number
We’ve spoken a lot about what happens during your calls, but we’ve not yet delved into what happens before a customer ever picks up (or doesn’t). Research shows that people are 4x less likely to pick up a phone call from an international toll-free number than a local one.
People are far more likely to trust and pick up a call with a local area code. If you operate an international call center, you can use this fact to your advantage by purchasing local phone numbers for the areas you’re targeting either through SIM cards or, better yet, a VoIP provider like CloudTalk.
After all, the effort you put into training your team members for their customer conversations will be all for naught if nobody actually picks up.
#10 Implement Call Tracking
Finally, the last tip for improving your sales success rate is to know your customers. By implementing call tracking, you can better understand where your customers are coming from and their pain points, needs, and desires. This will allow you to better prepare your call center agents for the conversations they’re most likely to have.
Again, your call center software is the best place to start with this. Beyond standard call tracking and CRM integrations, CloudTalk also allows you to record calls, tag them based on their type and outcome and add relevant notes for future reference.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, call center sales are made up of complex, multi-faceted processes that require a great deal of thought and effort to get right. But it’s well worth your time, and after having read through these 10 tips, you should be able to improve all aspects of your business – technological and human alike.
Crush Outbound Sales Quotas in 2022
You might also wonder…
How to increase outbound sales in the contact center?
Tips on how to make a successful sales call?
– Do your homework and be prepared
– Use the right integrations to maximize workflow efficiency
– Be confident but not arrogant
– Use client focused script
– Create a unique value proposition
– Involve the prospect in the conversation
How to improve call center agent performance?
– Deploy continuous training
– Use IVR to segment customers
– Record your calls and try to improve
– Give the right feedback to your agents
– Eliminate non-value-added activities
– Adopt omnichannel practices for better issue resolution flexibility
– Deploy a call-back system to assure frustrated customers.
– Use the right integrations to maximize workflow efficiency