With Brexit looming, businesses are readying themselves for life after the EU, whatever form it takes. I hope that it will be business as usual, but I also think it will be more important than ever to retain existing customers as well as attracting new ones.
Customer service remains a key element. How your customers contact you and how you respond will remain critical. Here are a few points you may wish to consider:
Do you offer a personal touch?
Integrating your telephone system with contact centre software and/or your CRM will give your staff the advantage of viewing customer records as they take calls. They can identify if they are an existing customer or a potential new one, greet them by their preferred name and quickly refer to past conversations or correspondence. This adds the personal touch to their dialogue and makes them more memorable for all the right reasons. This should result in repeat business.
Do you risk losing customers through a lack of efficiency?
Applying the personal touch is all well and good, but if your staff’s call handling skills are inefficient, that good relationship will soon turn sour. Customers want their queries handled quickly and with the minimum of fuss. For instance, does your business have enough lines available to handle concurrent conversations to allow for multiple incoming and outgoing calls at the same time? Customers will not be impressed by being met by the engaged tone or for their call to go unanswered. However, you need to make sure those calls have been answered promptly too. Hunt groups and the option to overflow calls to other departments should be standard. Again, CRM integration can help seamless call transfers to the right person straight away to prevent driving your customers in your competitors’ direction.
What if you miss a call?
Firstly, do you know if you have missed any calls?
Live and historical call statistics can give you an insight into these. Once you have this information, which often comes as surprise to businesses we have worked with, you can call your customers back. More strategically though, you can decide whether you need more lines or staff to cope with incoming enquiries and potential sales.
This opens up the broader question of whether you are available when your customers want to speak to you. It may be that your customers need to speak to you out of office hours. Do you need to consider an after-hours call team? Could they work equally efficiently at home using a remote set-up?
What if you can’t access your office?
Snow, floods and fires do occur, as do outages. Does your business have a back-up plan if there is nobody on site to take enquiries or if calls cannot be taken on your usual numbers? Call diverts are crucial here and these can be set up in seconds through a web-based portal. Diverts can go to multiple landline or mobile numbers without your customers noticing the difference. This means you can remain committed to customer service and avoid suffering the often financially devastating consequences of a disaster or interruption in trade.
None of the above are rocket science but it is all too easy to get complacent about how customer calls are handled. Your call handling processes should be reviewed regularly to make sure you are on top of your game and are not at risk of being overtaken by competitors.
If you need help with a review, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me. I am happy to help. Meanwhile, you may be interested in reading this recent case study from software company UNIFORM-Agri.