Offer Call Backs and Customer Service Options
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.
In thinking about going beyond the call, you may assume this is an article about offering web chat, text messaging, and email response in addition to handling phone calls. Though I’m an advocate of these options, thereby turning your call center into a contact center, these are not my focus this time.
Instead, I’m addressing what you can do with the telephone to go beyond the call. Here are some considerations:
Offering to call back the caller instead of having them wait on hold—in queue—is an option call centers can offer.
Some callers like this flexibility and others don’t. Some are skeptical they’ll receive a call back, while a few have tried it and never got the promised call—or it came hours later instead of the few minutes they were led to believe. Yet many delight in this option.
The benefits of a call back for the customer is not having to wait on hold, being able to attend to other activities, and a feeling of greater control.
Benefits to the call center are fewer callers on hold, lower toll-free costs, and agents who have a chance to prepare to engage with the caller before placing the call. Even something as simple as bringing up the customer’s account in advance saves agent time and reduces customer angst.
What do you do with callers who hang up in frustration while on hold? Hope they’ll call back? It might not happen. Be glad for one less call to handle? This is a short-sighted response that misses the reason for the call center in the first place.
What if you took the initiative and called the customer back? “We see that you called us earlier today, but we couldn’t get to your call in time. Is there anything we can help you with now?”
Yes, some customers will have given up, figured it out on their own, or decide to vent their frustrations. But many will be impressed you called to check with them and have heartfelt gratitude you made the effort.
In doing so you can turn around a negative experience and correct it. As you do so, you’ll forge a stronger relationship between your organization and your customers.
Some organizations do follow up surveys, either at the conclusion of a call or afterward. If you conduct surveys, what are your goals in doing so?
Is it merely to amass a statistical database of C-Sat (customer satisfaction) scores? There’s nothing wrong with this, but too often the end-of-call surveys try to learn about the effectiveness of the call before the caller knows if the advice they received is correct.
A better reason for follow up surveys is to determine customer service failures, providing a chance to correct your call center’s shortcoming. Then you can work to turn a negative customer experience into a positive one.
Going Beyond the Call
These are ways you can go beyond the call to better serve your customers. And that’s the reason your call center exists.
Read more in Peter’s Sticky series, including Sticky Sales and Marketing and Sticky Customer Service featuring his compelling story-driven insights and tips.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine, covering the call center teleservices industry. Read his latest book, Healthcare Call Center Essentials.