Imagine you’re waiting to get picked up for a first date…
You’re already annoyed and sweating way too much.
Your last conversation took a weird turn but you talked yourself into going anyway.
And then they finally pull up in a rusty, beat up station wagon with no A/C or radio.
Yes, the station wagon will still get you where you need to go, but knowing it’ll be a bumpy ride instantly dials the aggravation you already felt up to 11.
That’s how difficult customers feel when they call into a support line and have to experience a clunky and outdated call handling process. They’re already annoyed or outright angry, and then they’re asked to wait on hold for minutes on end, or get passed from agent to agent because no one knows exactly how to help. Or worse, they need to repeat themselves to an automated voice three dozen times in four dozen different tones to explain in simple English why they’re calling.
Everyone’s time is valuable and when a customer needs help, they usually need it immediately. It doesn’t matter how generous or empathetic your response to an issue is if you’re not in time to actually help.
Some phone systems are built to make calls, receive calls, and… that’s about it, they can handle more complicated activities, but not very well. Other phone systems are designed with the customer’s journey in mind. They include numerous features to make even the most difficult customers feel appreciated and listened to.
Which system do you have?
While asking a phone system to make an angry caller less angry seems like a monumental task, let me surprise you by my answer.
It’s simple really. In their heart of hearts, angry callers all have the same single goal. To be able to talk to someone who can help them as soon as possible.
Sometimes, just the simple act of getting a support agent on the line is enough to cool even the hottest heads. Allowing support agents, especially Tier 2 and 3-level support agents, to receive callers anywhere, on any device is a huge step towards getting calls answered by the right person as quickly as possible.
I know what you’re thinking. It can’t possibly be that simple. Well, let’s take a deeper dive into some of the ways modern phone systems help you deal with difficult customers so you can see for yourself how much one could benefit your business.
INSTANT ALERTS ABOUT UNSATISFIED CUSTOMERS
The cold truth is that customer complaints are a bigger deal than most people realize. “So what if one person got mad about our service,” you say to yourself. “Everyone else thinks it’s great!” Unfortunately, consumer habits studies show that only 1 in 25 unhappy customers will complain directly to you.They will however complain to between 9 and 15 of their friends and family.
That means you need to take every complaint seriously because each one is indicative of a larger problem and can have a lasting impact on your business. Modern phone systems may not be able to prevent every problem, but they can let you know as soon as problems occur so you can reach out and make things right.
Let’s look at a couple examples of how a modern phone system allows you to be instantly alerted about unsatisfied customers.
Tanya, your star customer service agent, finishes a routine support call and asks the customer if they’d like to leave her a review. The customer politely says yes, and then scores Tanya 1 out of 5 stars.
*Record Scratch* Wait what? Everything seemed fine!
Don’t worry, both you and your phone system are prepared for this exact situation. As soon as that 1-star rating is recorded, both you and your support manager receive email and text alerts. That way, whether you’re in the office or not, you can immediately look up that call and listen to the recording to see where Tanya went wrong.
Even more importantly, you can call the customer back right away and ask what you can do to make things right. Even if the answer is out of your control, you showed that you truly value customer input and made the effort to give them a better experience.
Plus, finding out what Tanya did wrong gives her the opportunity to improve and not make the same mistake with other customers who won’t complain to you directly.
You’re working from home today and making the best sandwich of your life. Stacks on stacks of meats, vegetables, cheeses, toasted bread—and then suddenly your cell phone buzzes. You’ve received a new email alerting you to a negative voicemail.
Begrudgingly abandoning your culinary masterpiece, you open your laptop and use your softphone application to check your voicemail. Sure enough, the message starts with one of your biggest customers yelling uproariously about an issue with their service.
You call the customer back ASAP, and are able to solve their issue quicker than either of you expected. They thank you, and although still a bit grumpy, remain a loyal customer.
Now it’s time to get back to your sandwich…
With the Voicemail Sentiment Analysis tools of a modern phone system, you were alerted right away to a voicemail that otherwise would have waited until after your lunch break was over. By that time, who knows how furious the customer could have gotten.
MAKE LONG HOLD TIMES A THING OF THE PAST
The most common complaint a majority of customer service teams receive is that callers are often asked to please hold… and hold… and hold…
Obviously you aren’t actively trying to leave customers stranded on hold, which means it's a simple issue of supply and demand. Too much demand for your services, not enough supply of customer service agents available to take a call.
With a modern phone system, you can keep constant visibility over how many calls you’re getting and make sure none of them are left waiting too long. If your call volume starts getting especially high, you can even see if anyone from other departments is available to help out.
On top of that, modern phone systems allow you to set up reporting dashboards that show helpful information such as your average number of calls per hour, average hold time, average number of available agents, etc. That’s valuable insight into your team’s performance, visible every day so you can make changes and staff appropriately.
BETTER, FASTER TRAINING FOR YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE TEAM
Providing world-class customer service doesn’t happen overnight. Well, technically it does when you offer after hours options or 24/7 support… but you get what I’m saying.
With all the training tools provided by modern phone systems, getting new employees up to speed is quicker and easier than you probably thought possible. It all starts with the fundamental problem of old-school customer service training:
Simulated situations can never truly prepare you for the real thing.
You know what I’m talking about. Those classic practice games where one trainee holds a banana up to their head and pretends to be an angry customer while another trainee holds half a bagel up to their head and tries their best to make them happy. Then both trainees crumble as soon as they get on a live call because real customers don’t pull punches the way your coworkers do.
If you’ve ever managed a customer service team, you’ve probably found yourself yelling like an infomercial host, “There’s gotta be a better way!”
Rest assured, there is a better way.
With a modern phone system, you can have trainees listen in on live calls to see how your experienced agents handle business. The customer won’t be able to hear them, so your trainees can ask you as many questions as they want without bothering anyone else on the call.
Additionally, once your trainees start talking calls of their own, you can automatically record every conversation and listen back through them to give pointers and identify further training opportunities.
No more made up scenarios or general tips that will hopefully help. Now you can use any real-world call as a training tool and review as many calls as your trainees need to make sure they know your customer support process like the back of their hand.
MANAGERS CAN STEP IN WHENEVER THEY’RE NEEDED
Few things are more frustrating for a customer than calling a support line and not getting the level of service they expected.
Maybe your support agent needs to check with another department for the answer to a very specific question. Maybe the customer demands to speak with a manager. With a modern phone system, there’s no need to make the customer wait on hold or (even worse) wait for a call back.
Instead, your support agent can send a Slack message or wave their arms frantically to get your attention. Then all it takes is one click on your computer’s phone system dashboard, or one code punched into your desk phone, and you’re instantly listening in on the call to see what’s going on.
Once you have ears on the situation, you can make the tactical choice to feed information directly to your support agent without the customer hearing. Or, if they’re in a serious pickle, jump right into the call without making the customer sit through a transfer and take things over personally.
RESPOND TO EMERGENCIES FROM ANYWHERE
One of the most difficult aspects of managing a customer support team is that emergencies can happen anytime. Unfortunately, “anytime” includes many times you are not in the office.
Whether you’re working from home, out for lunch, or just in a meeting away from your desk, you need to be able to answer important calls and stay connected with your team. Luckily, the mobility tools offered with modern phone systems allow you to do exactly that.
Softphones, software applications that use your computer to make and receive phone calls, make it easier than ever to work with customers remotely. Just flip open your laptop, dial their number, and handle business like you would at the office.
Softphones are especially useful for customer service agents who work from home for extended periods since they give all the same functionality as your desk phone, plus some extra features like business text messaging and contact list management.
Mobile apps are another great way to stay connected in case of emergencies because they convert the cell phone you already carry everywhere into your normal business extension. Whether you get an exasperated email, a vicious voicemail, or an instant message from one of your agents asking for help, all you need to do is tap your provider’s mobile app and call the customer directly.
No more getting back to your desk to find out a situation is already out of hand. No more surprise voicemails demanding immediate attention you weren’t around to give. With a modern phone system’s mobile app, you’re always available to keep your customers happy.
For even more tips on how a modern phone system can help you deal with difficult customers, give us a call at 303-GO-CLOUD or ask our communications experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.