For a small business owner, it can seem nearly impossible to successfully juggle the various duties and obligations required just to keep the doors opens and the lights on, to say nothing of the difficulties of generating enough revenue to allow the rate of growth necessary to stay competitive in the corporate world of today. With all these responsibilities to deal with, it’s not always easy to maintain a healthy level of communication with customers—by answering their complaints, filling their orders, and responding to their feedback in a prompt and professional manner. Yet it’s an indisputable truth that strong customer relationships are vital if your business is to succeed.
How can an up-and-coming business owner square this circle? Here’s one answer: By hiring a call center service to handle customer communications. That may not seem like an ideal solution, especially for those who prefer to have hands-on control over all their workflow processes. This reluctance is understandable, but not supported by the facts—third-party call center services like Personalized Communications can help lift company profits and significantly lower expenses.
Why It Is Important to Use a Dedicated Staff to Deal with Customers
One common characteristic of small businesses, particularly fledgling ones, is their tendency to require personnel to wear multiple hats. The salesperson with IT experience gets taken away from their primary job responsibilities to help deal with a computer issue. The vice president ends up answering phones for a few hours. The admin assistant moves into the sales area while the normal team is in the next room tinkering with that above-mentioned computer.
Arguably, this sort of approach is sometimes necessary, but far too many businesses try to cut corners in this fashion when it isn’t strictly required. Forcing personnel to take responsibility for tasks that they aren’t qualified to do, or that prevent them from turning their full attention to their true job duties, tends to impact the organization’s bottom line in a negative way. This is as true of customer communications as it is of any other business function—maybe even more so. In companies that operate in the manner outlined above, the person responding to customers—whether on the phone or via email—often has no specialized experience with these tasks.
But is this really such an undesirable state of affairs? What’s wrong with having someone else answer phones for a while? A lot, actually. It’s important to bear in mind that each interaction with a customer has the potential to make or break your working relationship with them. A customer who feels that their concerns aren’t being addressed adequately will likely no longer do business with the company. Conversely, a consumer who receives top-notch customer service will probably stay on board. All it takes is one badly handled call to irreparably damage all the good will you may have built up with a client. That’s why it’s vital to ensure that your customer service duties are always managed by those who are most qualified for the task.
The goal is to forge bonds with your customers—not merely to get those annoying phones to stop ringing. Therefore, no customer call should be treated as insignificant.
How Customer Service Affects Retention Rates
It’s true that many customer calls are routine in nature and can be effectively handled by just about anyone available in the office. It’s also true, however, that it’s impossible to know in advance whether the next caller will merely have a simple question that needs to be answered or will promptly launch into a lengthy tirade that concludes with demands for a large refund and threats of a possible lawsuit. Your ability to deal with the second type of caller can make a dramatic difference in your company’s profitability.
Losing a customer is a big deal. It’s much easier—and cheaper—to figure out how to appease an unhappy client than to find a new one to replace them. In fact, the process of securing the business of a new customer is approximately five to ten times more expensive than merely retaining an existing customer.1
It’s not easy to cope with unhappy, furious, and even verbally abusive callers, but it’s sometimes necessary. For optimal results, you should leave this task to an experienced, dedicated professional.
Customer Service Boosts Profits
Aside from boosting retention rates, strong answering/call center service encourages customers to spend more money. According to one study, two-thirds of consumers report that they will spend more money on a business that provides top-notch customer service. The benefits of good customer service amount to a 13% increase in consumer spending.2
What Is Sound Customer Service?
We’ve established that good answering services are important—but what, exactly, do we mean by that? What’s the difference between a skilled professional and the average person?
- Good conversational skills – A trained call center rep knows how to keep the conversation proceeding along proper lines. This includes a firm grasp of de-escalation strategies intended to assuage incensed callers. They should be able to emphasize with the caller and listen to them without needless interruption. The agent should also understand problem resolution tactics that enable them to get to the heart of the matter, thus keeping the call as brief as possible without straying off into tangents.
- State-of-the-art equipment – Dropped calls and botched forwarding attempts will alienate customers who desperately need to speak with a live agent. Having up-to-date call routing technology in place helps to prevent these annoyances.
- Expert knowledge – Real call center pros do more than just say “How can I help you?” They know a lot about the products and services of the company they represent, as well as their shipping and returns policies. As a result, they can usually provide an accurate, instant response to a customer’s question or complaint, without having to transfer the caller to another department or grab someone in the next room to help. They can also set appointments, process orders, and perform a number of other tasks, depending on the specific needs of the company.
Outsourced vs. In-House Call Center Solutions
We’ve established that a business’s best option is to have a dedicated call center, as opposed to doling out these responsibilities in an ad hoc fashion whenever the need arises. It’s only natural for a business owner to keep these functions in-house, but, for a variety of reasons, a competent third-party organization like Personalized Communications can probably do a better job of juggling these responsibilities. Consider the following:
- Experience – Simply put, a call center organization is managed and operated by people who have amassed a huge amount of expertise in this industry. They’ve been fielding calls, processing orders, and setting appointments for years.
- No training period – If you’re going to set up an in-house answering solution, you will have to hire new people or transfer existing personnel to your new department. Either way, there will be a transitional period before everyone is fully up and running. None of this is necessary with a call center agency, which has trained personnel already on staff and ready to go.
- Around-the-clock service – The business world remains in motion twenty-four hours a day, and a company that turns off the lights at 5 or 6 p.m. is at a distinct disadvantage. Many consumers don’t have time to call your offices during the day, when they’re busy with their own jobs; but, by the time they get home, it’s often too late to make that phone call, at least if they want to talk to a human being instead of an answering machine. As we have already explained, the ability to provide immediate responses to customers is one of the keys to first-rate answering services. With a call center agency, you’re able to provide that responsiveness, any time of the day or night.
For more information about the many advantages of call center services, visit http://www.callcenteragency.com/