Smile in a Call center phone interaction

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A smile in a Call center phone interaction is a key step to improving customer service and CSAT scores.

Why am I so confident that by simply smiling there is an improvement in call quality? It’s proven. At GuateCall, our nearshore call center located in Guatemala City, Central America, we have listened to thousands of calls of customer service agents that are smiling and those customer service agents that are not smiling. We’ve even tested the same agents and could clearly hear when they were smiling and when they were not.

What is the major difference? It’s the tone on the call. There is a clear difference in the customer service representatives’ tone when he or she is smiling as compared to when not. What is even more interesting is that there is a marked difference in the reaction of the customer which has a direct relationship to the agent’s tone. Customers seem to be more willing to listen and are more open to engage with customer service representatives that are smiling.

Joy breaks all physical and spiritual boundaries. That is a powerful concept. When applied to day to day life, joy gives the sense of control and knowledge that we can overcome any perceived difficulty we may encounter.

We all want to be joyful and happy, but for many people it doesn’t come naturally. Even those happy go lucky people have moments that they are just not inclined to be happy. So how do we maintain our cheery disposition when providing customer service to our clients? The fastest and easiest thing to do is smile! Even a not so genuine smile is better than nothing. A call center colleague advises trainees to look at your face and ask if you would want to talk to yourself if you weren’t smiling.  The most common thought process of new trainees is, we’re on calls, the customers can’t see us so why does it matter? An agent needs to be recorded and hear themselves speak while smiling and also when they are not smiling. Play the recording to the other trainees and ask them to decide which recording sounds friendlier, more confident and which has a nicer tone. This process ends all debates.

The next step is to consistently keep agents smiling throughout the day, so keep the call center floor loose, send funny messages to keep agents happy (an unexpected message at an unexpected time is usually best), create a seating arrangement that allows agents to help each other, create competition and excitement on the call center floor and make sure supervisors are there for their team members at all time.

Every company wants to improve their customer’s experience. Before creating elaborate plans and making major investments, make sure your team is smiling & happy. It’s the number one way to make the biggest and fastest impact on the customer experience, oh and it’s the least expensive as well, so try it!

How long does training last in a Contact and Call Center?

How long does training last in a Contact and Call Center?

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I often get asked by potential employees “how long does training last?” It’s funny to see their reaction when I look them straight in the eye and say, “training never ends!”

Now you have to understand, we are a boutique near-shore contact center that pays premium salaries in the BPO space in Guatemala, Central America. We have built a great reputation and so when hiring opportunities become available we get applications from employees of all the major call centers in town. Those employees have gone through the training process of major Fortune 500 companies. Accounts that represent many of the biggest names in the Airline, Hotel, Cruise, Energy, Shipping, Cell phone, Cable, Retail and Internet space.

“Training never ends?” I’m asked. “Never” I respond and I explain GuateCall’s philosophy on training.

When most companies train their employees, they explain about the company, the product or service, the benefits, the system, policies etc etc. They start with classroom training, then side-by-side and then it’s off to the races.

At GuateCall, we compare that philosophy to that of a stone that had a rush of water going over it for a while. What happens to the stone? It starts to get smooth on top and that makes for a good customer experience. But what if you want to change the culture of service? What if you want an awesome customer experience from people that take ownership of the brand? Well that takes a lot more than a rush of water to smooth out the top of the stone. What needs to happen is a consistent drip of water hitting that stone. Drip, drip, drip and drip some more until the water starts penetrating the inside of the stone. From Supervisors, Team-Leads and QA support, everyone drips thought processes and ideas to help support the front line staff in their endeavors. We create classes and seminars to teach new skill sets and so much more. In short, we motivate and challenge our people to learn and be more. So when does training at GuateCall end…Never!

This article was written by Perry Silber, COO of GuateCall. GuateCall is a Near-shore contact center provider of multi-channel bilingual services located In Guatemala, Central America. If you would like to learn more about GuateCall, please reach out to me at 713-474-2222 Ext 116 or by e-mail

Some “Let’s get real” questions to ask yourself

Some “Let’s get real” questions to ask yourself

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I am always perplexed by the concept of outsourcing call center services to a company that pays their employees minimum wage. Contact centers should have an added value or higher performance standards to justify the increase in salary. If the same job can be done at a cheaper price with the same quality, than what’s the purpose of outsourcing to that location?

There is no need to fall in love with the city or country you are outsourcing contact center services to. Fall in love with the way your customers are being treated! Fall in love with the value your contact center services provider offers. Being an “American” call center is useless if that’s your whole competitive advantage.

Some “Let’s get real” questions to ask yourself

  • How long will your front line agents stay on the account?
  • Do they see their position as a career or just a way to make some money that’s better than flipping burgers until they find something better?
  • What is the turnover rate?
  • What is the interest level you hear when auditing calls?
  • Do the agents sound like they care about your customers or is it just another call?

If call center companies invest the time to hire, train, motivate, educate and create an environment that creates the service levels that their customer’s desire, they can’t afford to lose their employees because they only pay minimum wage. This leads to question, so do they really spend the time necessary to hire, train, motivate and educate as they should? Can your business afford to have mediocre customer service as your front line representation when your customers contact the company? Scary thought isn’t it.

It’s time to be real when it comes to outsourcing. Don’t get all excited by the bells and whistles that big box call centers show you. The huge facilities, the amazing recreational rooms are all fine and dandy but at the end of the day, their employees pay are still taking a beating in order to finance the high infrastructure costs of these operations.

Test run call centers. Create competitive environments and allow the call center to prove their worth with performance and reliability. Your customers and business will be glad you did!

Outsourcing Customer Service to Latin America

Outsourcing Customer Service to Latin America

Inspiration News

Outsourcing customer service is one of the most crucial parts of any business.  With today’s competitive business environment and more educated customers as well as the ease of finding information about products and companies, the key differentiation between one company and another is the customer experience and interaction with its clients. Whether it’s through voice, web chat, email or social media interaction, customer experience is the most important element in the success or failure of a company. This is why it is so important to have the best possible relationship with your customer experience outsource provider.

The management of your company and the outsourcing call center must be on the same wave length and become an extension of the business. Good customer service can often be the key to increased sales, customer satisfaction, customer retention and brand reputation.

On the other hand, poor customer service or for that matter even marginal or inconsistent customer service through all the different channels at the customer’s disposal often leads to unhappy customers, diminished brand reputation, loss of customers and poor sales. For these reasons alone, whenever a company decides to outsource their customer service, they need to partner with a provider that will make their company’s customers a top priority.

There are some basic guidelines when searching for a call center:
Credibility:
Credibility matters when a business is entrusting another business with an important task. For this reason, see how long the company has been in the outsourcing business.
Also ask for some client testimonials and recommendations as well as from industry experts.

Skills:
What is the English fluency of the call center’s existing agents?  Since bilingual services are so important for the U.S. market today, do the agents speak Spanish as well?  What is the accent level like?  Spanish accents are also different from country to country.  Try to pick a country that has a neutral accent.  Guatemala, in Central America, is known as a top location for neutral bilingual accents.

Customer service skills need agents that are customer centric by nature.  Some key characteristics are being humble, polite and great listeners.  Contact center reps who are outside of the box thinkers and can come up with creative solutions are always a benefit and the ability to create first call resolutions using all the skill sets above is of key importance to not only the customer experience but controlling the costs of the company.

Location:
Geographical Advantage: If the BPO or contact center is located in time zones that are 7-12 hours difference from the location of the company it is serving, then there is less opportunity to solve management concerns on the fly.  Most top level executives and management work during the day shift so there is a clear need to be located either in the U.S., Canada or for a cost saving and bilingual Spanish support, near shore in Latin America.

Due to the time zone similarity and lower price structure, Latin American and especially Central American call centers have become a popular destination for high level customer service.

Cultural Similarity – Customer service is all about dealing with people. Having a positive customer experience with people becomes much easier when both the customer and the agent are on the same wavelength.  If a customer is looking for items, for example, that just came out that is all the rage, the customer service rep should be on top of those trends and point the customer in the right direction.

Pricing: 
Last but definitely not least, pricing plays a key role in customer service.  There is a need to balance budget with a high a level of customer service and experience.  Many U.S. and Canadian companies are finding that Central America offers a great balance of a highly skilled bilingual workforce coupled with a more cost efficient pricing structure than their local outsource providers.

A Shameless Plug:
If you are looking for a higher quality contact center with a strong focus on the customer relationship, strong training principles and a highly interactive and dedicated management and staff located in Guatemala, Central America, look no further than GuateCall.

We are an American managed BPO and contact center that provides Superior Services.
We believe that every point of contact, from our employees, to our customers and their customers, is an opportunity to make a positive impact on people’s lives.  We work as a seamless extension of your team by integrating our services and management to work hand-in-hand with yours, at every point of contact.

-Our employees become your brand advocates
-Our management team looks for ways to benefit the customer
-Our environment is conducive to happy and lateral-thinking employees

 

This article was written by Perry Silber, COO of GuateCall. GuateCall is a Nearshore contact center provider of multi-channel bilingual services located In Guatemala, Central America. If you would like to learn more about GuateCall, please reach out to me at 713-474-2222 Ext 116 or by e-mail.

Obsessing about Customer experience

Obsessing about Customer experience

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Obsessing about Customer experience with a few employees is one thing, but if you’re looking to scale, focus on creating a structure that allows your employees to deliver a meaningful customer experience.

In reality, that’s easier said than done. Creating structure that allows employees to give a superior customer experience consistently and maintain that level of excellence in scale is a big undertaking.

If you ask most company leaders they’ll tell you they want to give a great customer experience. Employees also want to give a great customer experience. Lets face it, we’re all customers. The thought of treating others as we would want to be treated is great. So why do companies fail so miserably so many times?

We’re not all the same.

Yes, the end goal is we all want to feel good/satisfied interacting with a company, but what we consider good/satisfied is not necessarily the same for another person. What motivates one person does not necessarily motivate another. What one wants, isn’t necessarily what another wants. There has to be different ways of helping people in order to achieve the ultimate goal of customer satisfaction, or as we say here at GuateCall, “Meeting and exceeding expectations.”

Creating a great product or offering a certain service takes time, effort, training, fine tuning and constantly looking for ways to improve. Creating the customer experience we want to deliver takes the same amount of consistent planning, training and effort. The kicker is most companies are good at bringing a product or service into the market. They may be good at promoting and selling the product and even servicing the product, but as the company grows there is a strain in management’s time and so most of the energy is placed on sales and marketing. Customer service or experience is usually left for people to patch together as a reaction to growth needs. Usually this patch has a general training, key metrics that need to be hit and a QA system that rewards or punishes the customer service representatives based on adherence to key elements of the interaction with the customer. As customer complaints rise, CSAT scores and other measurements are added. More reward and punishment naturally follows and at this point the customer service representatives are more interested in reaching their bonus and protecting their job than they are delivering a great customer experience.

Being customer focused is no different than bringing products or services to market.

  • It takes effort.
  • It takes time.
  • It takes a commitment to excellence.
  • It takes building a culture that encourages the customer experience to be a priority.

Most companies do not have the level of experience or staffing necessary to create such an environment.

Outsourcing to a company that specializes in creating the customer service experience is a great way to increase customer satisfaction while continuing to focus on what the company does best. At GuateCall, we have years of experience delivering superior services. Our team will work hand in hand with yours to create the processes necessary to become a seamless part of the organization.

This article is written by Perry Silber. Perry Silber is one of the founders of GuateCall. GuateCall is a nearshore contact center located in Guatemala Central America / Latin America. Our location allows us the ability to increase our service levels while still being priced competitively. If you would like to learn more about our call center and its bilingual English and Spanish services in voice, chat or email, reach out to me at 713-474-2222 or by e-mail perry@guatecall.com .

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