Managing incoming calls is a real challenge for any company that cares about its image and its relations with its external environment. How these calls are handled is indeed often a deciding factor in the initial evaluation of the customer experience. In order to optimize this contact that – it should be noted – does not arise from the company’s initiative, here are 6 tips to integrate into your customer relationship management strategy:
1. Have a dedicated service
This essential aspect of incoming call management often involves much more than the simple act of hiring a receptionist who knows how to use a phone system connected to an IP PBX. This division of services can be done in different ways, depending on your offerings as a company (service categories, product categories, customer request types, etc.). First and foremost, this lets your team save time and guarantee superior customer satisfaction by putting the customer in contact with the right person with the right information at the right time. This point is also one of the deciding factors when the question of outsourcing arises, since such a dedicated service can be particularly energy-intensive in terms of human resources when kept in house.
2. Equip the stakeholders
In order to maximize the caller’s experience and the operation’s profitability, it’s essential that the employees asked to participate in an incoming call are properly equipped. This means, among other things, a solid understanding of the devices and software used (if applicable), the availability of the stakeholders at the agreed-upon times, fluid communication between the different stakeholders, as well as a standardization of certain key conversational elements (see point 4).
3. Limit contact points
Having a single phone number for every incoming call can provide many advantages to a company. It lets you not only be more easily identifiable and reachable, but it also guarantees smoother call management, to the extent that the system (either human or automated) put in place to handle the incoming calls forwards them effectively to their proper recipients. This solution also meets one of the customer’s basic needs: to have simple and convenient access, from any device and from any location. In this context, it’s best to choose a toll-free number that’s easy to find and memorize.
4. Develop customized processes
In business, good incoming call management necessarily involves complying with certain standards and procedures that the company must establish ahead of time. Whether the calls are received directly in house or they’re handled by an external solution, it’s essential that the different stakeholders respect a very precise script that incorporates the following main elements: a fast “landing,” a standard reception phrase, customized service, a clear identification of the stated needs, a suitable and informed response, and a professional conclusion. Each of these elements, in addition to the various procedures specific to the company’s business, must necessarily be part of a process accessible to the people involved in handling the company’s calls.
5. Have a powerful automated system
Ideal for managing waiting times and pre-qualifying calls, the interactive voice response (IVR) server is one of the new, highly effective weapons for handling incoming calls. This type of device not only lets you sort calls according to their relative importance, but it also lets you quickly and efficiently process repetitive requests. Connected to a CTI (computer telephony integration) system, it broadly meets the requirements of modern companies while letting you achieve interesting economies of scale.
6. Ensure quality and feedback
Because customer experience is a broad concept that starts from the very first contact, good incoming call management also requires the ability to establish procedures that let you effectively qualify each incoming call and carry out internal monitoring for those that need it. Whatever your call management solution, make sure you have access to as much statistical data as possible so you can adjust (if needed) some of your customer management techniques. This data also lets you take a clear and objective look at your needs to adequately meet those of your customers.
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President, Groupe Marketing International