Customer service’s secret sauce

We're proud of our call center agents.

We're proud of our call center agents.

It was a long day. For 12 hours we had been working on a project at Tacamor’s main operations center in Placentia, a small community on the far east coast of Canada. We had spent the day asking for — and getting — the cooperation of our agents for new promotional materials we have been preparing. It was important to us to use our own agents in our marketing, rather than use stock photos of nameless models from who-knew-where who would show up in ads for call center after call center. We had agents who made us proud, and we wanted that to be obvious in every ad or photograph that we put out there.

So here we were at the end of it all, pulling down tripods and lights, packing away cameras and monitors, rolling up cords and then rolling it all out to our cars. And as we were putting the last of it into place, the photographer looked up, shaking his head with obvious wonderment, and asked, “Where on Earth do they find these people?”

It’s a question our clients and their callers have also asked from time to time. In a day when so many call center agents deliver poor service and obvious lack of concern, how does Tacamor find agents who so obviously do care and are so willing to go the extra mile to make sure things are done right and people are happy? The easy answer is a cliche but it still rings true: we find them right in our own back yard.

Tacamor chose Placentia with careful consideration of what we believe is the secret sauce to providing great customer service: call centers need people who actually do care. Callers want to know the voice on the other end actually does want to help. Clients must be confident that the agents are focused on their needs and their customers’ needs. How do you teach people to do that? Yes, the technical skills that go along with being a call center can be taught, and we do have an intensive training program for all our agents. But the skill of being nice is something that you just cannot instill into someone who didn’t walk in the door already familiar with it. To use the worn-out but still true phrase, “you either have it or you don’t.”

From everything we had seen that day, it was clear that Tacamor’s agents had it. In abundance. They smiled and sounded as eager to help at the end of the day as they had at the start. Some stayed beyond their quitting time just to make sure we had the shots we needed, and they did it with genuine reassurances that they really didn’t mind. They spoke with real appreciation about their jobs, and everyone knows that working in a call center is not an easy profession. Several of them mentioned they had been with Tacamor since the first day the doors opened several years ago, or had joined shortly thereafter. In an industry where agent turnover is notoriously high, that alone was remarkable. But it was the overall tone of their voices and the sincerity with which they spoke that really let you know you were standing on hallowed call center ground. If ever there was a Promised Land for call centers, surely we had found it.

Best-selling business author Tom Peters has said that companies need to get back to hiring nice people. We at Tacamor agree. Life is too short to deal with people who simply don’t care, whether they’re sitting across a desk, standing at a cash register, or helping your company’s customers. Our people do care, and we are very proud to have them out there for our clients, creating truly exceptional customer service experiences.

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