09 Jun Can call centres really impact customer satisfaction and customer service levels?
“Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold.” This phrase is commonly cited by customers as a source of irritation with call centre customer service. According to a survey by American Express, customers are most bothered by the use of this and its companion: “We’re sorry, but we are experiencing unusually heavy call volumes…”
Building a great relationship between an organisation and its customer base is the key function of a call centre. Whether the contact centre is in-house or outsourced, whether onshore or offshore, ensuring high levels of customer service and satisfaction are its intended key purpose. Given the commonly held assumption that customers in general prefer face-to-face interaction over call centre interactions, do call centres really make a positive difference to customer satisfaction?
The answer is yes. But only when the call centre builds a strong, knowledgeable team to ensure the highest level of interactions between its employees and customers through exceptional training, support, leadership and management.
What makes a stand-out call centre?
There are call centres and there are call centres that stand out for the quality of their service. While all call centres affect customer satisfaction one way or the other, only the cream of the crop do so in a demonstrably positive way.
When we created our CCI South Africa Durban call centre, our ambitions stretched much further than a simple phone answering service. To our customers, the difference between CCI call centre staff and those from other call centres is clear. We call our clients our partners, because they are just that, and their customers – the people we speak to every day on their behalf – are never just a number to our team members. And that’s because we didn’t just create an office building and employ people to answer as many calls as possible. We built a city.
Our CCI South Africa city is a holistic employee support system that covers training, development, health, leisure, team building and more. We offer skills-based training, an encouraging and nurturing environment, benefits and rewards; a real tangible long-term career path. And this is the key to our success, providing our partners and their customers with high possible levels of customer satisfaction.
The evolution of call centres and the impact on customer service
As economic and industrial globalisation continues to dominate markets around the world, more functions, tasks and services are outsourced to call centres, demanding constant innovation. This puts call centres at the heart of delivering client’s messages. And while call centres are one facet of this enormous outsourcing industry, we are also the most direct customer facing service.
And, as the role of call centres has evolved, so too have customer expectations. Customers in 2020 won’t tolerate services that don’t fulfil their expectations. They’ll simply go elsewhere. Such is the importance of the link between call centres and customer satisfaction, there are academic studies exploring it. This study is just one that looks specifically at what call centre employees do that leads to increased customer satisfaction.
Understanding the complexity behind delivering call centre customer service
Researchers cite the complexity and diversity of a call centre operator’s role as one of the pathways to poor customer satisfaction. Without sufficient training, support and management, call centre staff can struggle to fulfil their role as the primary contact with the customer.
This is clear to call centre managers and leaders who know their stuff. And the best ones really do.
We expect much from our staff. Not only do they make or take calls and digital responses, but they must also be fully able to multi-task and accomplish all kinds of managerial requirements. These include, but are not limited to:
- Maintaining high levels of service quality.
- Exhibiting perceptiveness, attentiveness, assurance and responsiveness.
- Solving problems.
- Satisfying unpredictable customers.
- Dealing with a large number of calls and digital responses in a short amount of time.
- Adaptive selling.
- Building rapport.
Not every call centre requires all of these from their operators, but many will. And for them to be performed against a background of high stress and fast-moving pressures. This is where the management and structure of the call centre makes the difference between achieving good customer satisfaction or failing to serve customers effectively.
Customer-orientated management is key to high customer satisfaction levels
CCI South Africa takes a customer-oriented approach. We focus on delivering quality by empowering and supporting our employees. Call centres that stand out don’t just
prioritise call volume above all else. Quantitative metrics have their place, but in the call centres of the connected 21st century world where customer expectations are higher than they have ever been, it is not enough.
Prioritising customer service by looking after call centre operatives positively impacts satisfaction levels internally and externally. The service quality depends mainly on the authority, assurance, empathy and flexibility of call centre agents. It’s not just about call centre teams having a list of tasks to complete and calls to answer, but how they do so. The actions teams and individuals take from the moment the customer calls in (or when the agent calls out) forms the pathway to customer satisfaction. And its strong leadership and training that facilitates this.
Do call centres really make a difference to customer service and satisfaction?
So, do call centres really make a difference to customer service and satisfaction?
Absolutely – they can make or break it based on how well teams are trained and perform.
At CCI South Africa, we have a structured career path with specific training every step of the way. Our contact centre is a fully equipped to offer employees the kind of work/life balance that helps their motivation and engagement. We understand and support the complex demands their position necessitates and provide the structure in which they can thrive. And it’s this that pushes our customer satisfaction levels above average.
Mark Chana is an experienced business and call centre leader. He is the Chief Operating Officer of CCI Global and Managing Director of CCI South Africa. At CCI Global, Mark Chana has ultimate responsibility for all group operations, business development, and company performance. He is also the Managing Director of CCI South Africa.