Motivational Quotes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes we all require a little something to help us make it through the day.  Here are some motivational quotes related to business, customer service and teamwork to provide a little lift in times of need.

  • If we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will.”  – Unknown
  • “Customers don’t expect you to be perfect.  They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.”  – Donald Porter
  • “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends.  If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.”  – Jeff Bezos
  • “Sales without Customer Service is like stuffing money into a pocket full of holes.”  – David Porter
  • “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”  – Unknown
  • “When a Company compromises its principles one time, the next compromise is right around the corner.”  – Zig Ziglar
  • The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best, but legendary.”  – Sam Walton
  • “A company’s character is known by the people it keeps.”  – John Ruskin
  • “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”  – Samuel Goldwyn
  • Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game.  Service wins the game.”  – Tony Alessandra
  • “Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”  – Andrew Carnegie
  • “It is amazing how much you can accomplish when it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.”  – Robert Yates
  • Although your customers won’t love you if you give bad service, your competitors will.”  – Kate Zabriskie
  • “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”  – Babe Ruth
  • In business you get what you want by giving other people what they want.”  – Alice MacDougall
  •  “You’ll never have a product or price advantage again.   They can be easily duplicated, but a strong customer service culture can’t be copied.”  – Jerry Fritz
  • “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.”  – Vince Lombardi
  • People expect good service but few are willing to give it.”  – Robert Gately
  • “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”  – Michael Jordan
  • “Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.”  – Vista M. Kelly
  • “Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction.”  – Anne Frank
  • “Organizations exist only for one purpose: to help people reach ends together that they couldn’t achieve individually.”  – Robert H. Waterman
  • “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”  – Steven Covey
  • “Here is a simple but powerful rule – always give people more than what they expect to get.”  – Nelson Boswell
  • “To my customer.  I may not have the answer, but I’ll find it.  I may not have the time, but I’ll make it.”  – Unknown
  • “A smile is a curve which can set a lot of things straight.”  – V. Borge

Are you motivated to improve your customer service department?  Contact Tacamor today to find out how!

When (and when not) to take it personally in the customer service industry

Call center work can be a tough racket sometimes.  Customer service agents often will have to deal with people who are irritable, angry, or downright mean.  In this line of work, it is important to have a thick skin and not take everything personally.  Here are a couple of examples of when it is appropriate to take something personally and when it is best to let it slide off your back.

Anger – Customer service agents will have to deal with angry customers.  It simply comes with the territory.  No company is absolutely perfect, and when a mistake is made, people will naturally want to take out their frustration on the first person they talk to about it, which is usually the customer service agent.  It is important to realize that, although you as the agent will have to bear the brunt of this anger, it is really being directed at the company and not at you personally.  As a key representative and voice of the company, you will have to do your best to take ownership of the issue, diffuse the emotional situation, and resolve the problem.  However, in this type of case, you should never feel that you are personally responsible for the customer’s hardship.  If the caller speaks in an angry tone or makes a sarcastic comment, the best thing to do is to ignore it and focus on fixing the underlying issue.  Don’t take it personally!

Praise – Most people have felt under-appreciated at some time or other, and call center workers are no exception.  Dealing with upset customers can take its toll on anyone.  However, sometimes a caller will be so happy at getting his or her issue resolved that they will offer up a genuine compliment or some other form of praise in gratitude.  Something like, “Wow, you have been very helpful!” or “Thanks so much for fixing this problem – I really appreciate it!”  In this type of situation, you should definitely take it personally!  Remember that you and you alone solved the customer’s problem and brightened up his or her day.  Sure, you may have had help with a troubleshooting script or some other aid, but in the end, you are the person who had to listen to the customer, appropriately diagnose the problem, and provide an effective solution.  That’s not always an easy thing to do, especially over the phone, so a successful resolution to a problem is certainly something to be celebrated, and any compliments received by callers should be taken as personal reinforcement that you did a good job.

Let the insults roll off your back, but take the compliments to heart!  That is one of the most important keys to being a successful customer service agent.

Customer Service Leadership

In order to be considered successful, a company must grow.  In order to grow, a company needs to somehow differentiate itself from the competition.  Focusing on high quality customer service in order to deliver the best possible customer experience for consumers is a particularly effective strategy that many businesses are putting into action in order to set themselves apart from competitors.

But, if there has never been much of a focus on customer care in the past, how can a company suddenly become a customer service leader?

A commitment to customer service is not something that can simply be tacked onto a business as an afterthought.  Rather, it needs to be fully ingrained into the culture of a company, and really, the only way for that to happen is for senior management to buy into that philosophy and actually put the ideas into practice.  Only when upper management fully embraces this philosophical shift and starts to demand improvements in key customer service metrics will it trickle down through middle management to the front line workers.  After all, if the CEO of a company does not care about providing excellent customer service, why should the employees care?

One of the best (and easiest) ways to become a customer service leader is to outsource call center work to a firm that specializes in providing high quality customer care.  This usually means outsourcing to an onshore or nearshore customer service provider rather than going offshore.  While a business might be able to obtain a lower overall rate through an offshore call center, the quality of customer care may suffer.  Language barriers and cultural differences often come into play and detract from the overall customer experience.  Industry consultant David Filwood indicates that, “It’s not a racist issue; people relate over the phone to people they perceive as being from their region.”

According to a recent Globe & Mail article, many North American companies that initially outsourced their call centers offshore are now bringing them back due in large part to low customer satisfaction.  Sears Canada spokesman Vincent Power recently remarked, upon bringing the company’s repair service call center back to Canada, “There’s now a higher degree of satisfaction for calls related to parts and service than there were before.”

A leadership decision to outsource call center operations offshore to the lowest cost provider indicates that customer service is simply not a priority for the company, and that they are more concerned with cutting costs than delivering a great customer experience.  Conversely, finding the right nearshore or onshore outsourcing partner shows that customer care is a high priority for senior management, and that they are willing to forego the lowest possible rock bottom price in order to keep their customers happy.

Having upper management make the strategic decision to focus on improved customer care, and then actually taking steps to implement the strategy, is the first critical step that a company must take in order to become a true customer service leader in the industry.

Tacamor specializes in providing high quality inbound customer service and level 1 technical support.  Put us to work  for your company and see first hand how we can improve your overall customer satisfaction!

Random Words of Kindness

Sometimes the simplest things in life are the things that are most appreciated.

It doesn’t always take something major to make a person feel good.  Little things like holding a door open, helping someone pick up a dropped coin, or even a simple smile can make a person feel on top of the world.

The same is true for customers.  Everyone likes to feel appreciated, and a kind remark here and there by a customer service agent can go a long way towards building a stronger relationship between a company and its customers.

Of course, delivering quick and effective customer service is usually the best way to keep callers happy, but a random word of kindness can be the icing on the cake that really strengthens the bond with the caller, and makes him or her feel special and appreciated.

There are many different things you can say to customers to make them feel good.  Some possibilities could be:

“I notice that you have been a customer of ours for ____ years.  I would just like to thank you for your business.  We really appreciate it!”

This indicates that the company does not take the customer’s business for granted, making him or her feel valued.

“I see that you also called us last month about another issue.  How did that go?  Did everything get resolved okay?”

This comment demonstrates a level of caring and concern on behalf of the company for its customers, and a commitment to high quality service.

“You have been one of the nicest callers I’ve had all day.  It has been an absolute pleasure dealing with you.”

This type of comment singles out the person in a good way, making him or her feel special compared to everyone else.

“I see that you’re on the __________ plan.  That’s a great choice.  I love that plan because _______________________.”

This statement indicates that the caller made a good decision, making him or her feel smart about that choice.  A personal endorsement by the agent also helps to further promote the company’s offerings.

In each case, these types of remarks help to build upon the overall customer service experience for a caller.  Sometimes it doesn’t take much to delight a person, and little statements like these can help to create (and maintain) customer loyalty, which should be a primary goal for any business.

Tacamor customer service agents can increase customer loyalty for your company.  Get in touch today to find out what we can do for you!

The Hidden Costs of Operating a Call Center

Many companies struggle with the decision of whether to keep their call center operation in house, or outsource it to a professional customer service provider.  Although improved quality of service is a major reason why many companies are choosing to outsource, the issue of cost remains a huge factor in the decision making process.

So, how do you compare the cost of running an in house call center against the cost of outsourcing it to a professional?

At first glance, it would seem to be an easy question to answer.  You calculate how much you are paying your current team of agents, whether per minute or per hour, and then compare it with a quoted rate from a call center outsourcer.

That’s all there is to it, right?

Well, in a word, no.

The reality is that there are a multitude of other costs that should be taken into account when properly weighing an outsourcer’s quoted rate against your own expenses.  Some of these costs are much more obvious than others.

Here are some essential costs, many of which are “hidden,” which should be factored into the equation when comparing outsourced versus in house call center expenses.

  • Payroll – This is the most obvious cost, and in some cases is the only one taken into account by many companies when deciding whether or not to outsource.  Strictly speaking, this is what you pay out to your call center staff in the form of wages and employee benefits.
  • Facilities – Your call center has to be located somewhere.  What is the cost of the building or office space?  If you outsourced your call center operations, could you put this newly vacated space to better use, or save additional money by closing it off completely?
  • Equipment – A good call center requires many different types of equipment, including computers, phone systems, wiring, furniture, etc.  In addition to a substantial up front investment to initially acquire these items, there is also a need for continual maintenance and upkeep for equipment.  Desks and chairs will wear out and need to be repaired, while computer systems will eventually become obsolete as technology improves, and need to be upgraded or replaced.  If you outsource, your company will not have to worry about these maintenance costs, since they would be borne by the outsourcer.
  • Technology – Similar to ongoing maintenance costs for physical equipment, there are also substantial costs related to keeping the level of required technology up to date.  Operating systems and software applications will need to be constantly upgraded to newer versions, and networks will need to be improved to keep up with the constant demand to be better and faster.  A good contact management platform and/or CRM system can be very costly, and often requires a certain level of technical expertise to operate effectively.  What is the cost of acquiring and implementing the necessary call center technology yourself versus letting a professional outsourcing company handle it?
  • HR Costs – In addition to payroll, there are other costs associated with maintaining a staff of workers.  How much does it cost to hire and train agents?  What about the cost of employee turnover?  Attrition rates in the call center industry are usually very high, and there can be a substantial cost associated with having to recruit, hire and train new customer service agents on a continual basis.  The cost of sick leave, employee motivation and other day-to-day HR issues should also be factored into the overall cost equation.
  • Operating Fees – Nobody likes paying expensive monthly bills.  Call centers are notorious power drainers.  How much would you save on your monthly electric bill by outsourcing your call center operation?  What about toll-free and/or long distance charges?  Do you have the appropriate insurance required for a call center operation?  How about on-site security and remote monitoring of the premises?  Janitorial expenses?  All of these things are not free, and the expenses can quickly add up.
  • Time – This is a very important cost that can be easily overlooked.  Running an in house call center requires a great deal of time and energy from upper and middle management on a daily basis.  If customer service is not your core business, and a substantial chunk of time is being diverted towards keeping your in house call center running smoothly, what is the opportunity cost associated with this lost or wasted time?  Outsourcing your customer service immediately eliminates most of the day-to-day hassle associated with call center operation, freeing up time for your star employees and managers to focus on more profitable activities that can make your business grow.
  • Customer Satisfaction – How effective is your in house call center?  Are your customers happy with the level of service they receive from your agents?  Outsourcing to a customer service professional can lead to better service levels, which can improve a company’s overall reputation and drive more sales.  This potential for increased revenue should be considered when measuring the costs of outsourcing.

The choice between outsourcing a call center and keeping it in house is a critical one for many companies.  When making the final decision, it is important that all of the relevant costs are taken into account, including the many non-obvious, hidden ones.  Only then can you get an accurate idea as to whether or not call center outsourcing makes sense for your business, and make a truly informed decision.

Does call center outsourcing make sense for your business?  Once you have calculated your total costs, get in touch with Tacamor today to request a quote, and see if we are the right call center for you!

The Importance of Tone of Voice for Call Center Agents

“It’s not only what you say, but how you say it.”

Ever heard that expression?

It’s true.  Tone of voice is a powerful thing.  Sometimes, even if your words are crystal clear, the message you are trying to get across can be dramatically different depending on your tone of voice.  According to Dr. Albert Mehrabian of UCLA, tone of voice can account for up to 38% of how a spoken message is comprehended.

Although tone of voice is a critical element in any type of real-life communication, in a call center environment it becomes even more important.  The voices of call center agents are often the only thing linking them with their customers.  Even if the agent means well, a misunderstanding because of the way something is said can leave a bad taste in a customer’s mouth, and in extreme cases could even lead to a cancellation of service, or worse.  Therefore, call center agents must always be mindful of their tone of voice, and work on making themselves sound interested and active even during times when they might really feel otherwise.

Customers want to feel that their customer service representative really cares about their issue.  Agents should remember that, although they may have dealt with hundreds of similar calls throughout a particular day, for each individual caller the issue is brand new.  A bored or rushed tone of voice will make the caller feel like he/she is just another number.  On the other hand, a friendly and enthusiastic tone of voice conveys a sense of caring, making the caller feel special.

Some tips to improve tone of voice for call center agents include:

  • Picture yourself as the customer.  By putting yourself in their shoes, their issue becomes yours.  Therefore, your tone of voice is more likely to seem interested and engaging.
  • Be aware of your breathing.  The way a person breathes can have a huge effect on how a person sounds on the phone.  Breathing shallowly can cause people to speak too quickly or mumble.  Breathing more deeply results in increased vocal energy, which is necessary to complete a lengthy script or deliver an important message on the phone.
  • Maintain good posture.  Bad posture can negatively affect breathing and tone of voice.  Therefore, it is important for call center agents to maintain good ergonomic form by sitting up straight in their chairs and not slouching.  Your spine will thank you for this!
  • Insert inflections into your speech.  Consciously altering the pitch of your voice by placing emphasis on certain words, rather than speaking in a continuous monotone, makes you seem more interesting, engaging, and alive.  A spoken sentence with many natural inflections is much more pleasant to listen to than an unbroken, unvaried tone of voice.

A lively, engaging tone of voice is one of the key qualities of a successful customer service call center agent.

Tacamor is known for its interesting, energetic and expert customer service agents.  Put Tacamor to work for your company today by getting in touch to request a quote.

The Different Types of Contact Centers

Not all contact centers are the same.  Just as there are different kinds of animals stalking through the jungle and different types of vehicles on the road, there are many different types of contact centers out there.

The most obvious distinction among contact centers is inbound vs. outbound.  Inbound centers are designed to accept calls (or e-mails, web chats, etc.) from customers.  People get in touch with an inbound contact center for things like customer service, technical support, ordering a product/service, or obtaining information.  Outbound contact centers, however, focus on proactively making contact with existing or prospective customers, usually for the purpose of making sales or generating leads.  An outbound contact center would be involved in activities such as telemarketing or administering surveys.

Many contact centers are dual-purpose, with the ability to offer both inbound and outbound services, while others are solely dedicated to performing one type of service.  Some call centers are very specific in what they can offer, while others are more general.  A narrowly focused contact center may specialize only in administering surveys for the health care industry, for example, while a multi-purpose center might offer everything from telemarketing to high-end technical support for digital devices.

Some call centers, such as Tacamor, choose to specialize in a certain area (I.e. inbound customer care services) but are flexible enough to offer additional outbound services to clients if required, such as callbacks, survey administration, appointment confirmations, etc.  Under this type of model, a contact center is able to offer a wide variety of services, thus expanding its potential market for obtaining new clients, while still retaining the core competencies necessary to be a true expert in its domain.

The level of technology is another differentiating factor for many contact centers.  Some contact centers operate using the simplest technological infrastructure possible.  As a result, although this may result in lower operating costs, the services these bare bones centers are able to provide are often lacking.  For example, a call center with a primitive technological setup may have the capability of accepting inbound calls only, and be unable to provide support via e-mail, web chat, social media, or other channels.  Additionally, without a solid Contact Management System in place, it may be impossible for a contact center to deliver complicated reports on key performance indicators such as Average Handle Time, Abandon Rate, Service Level, etc., which are demanded by many clients these days.

Finally, the way that agents are assigned tasks can differ from center to center.  Some contact centers use a dedicated-agent system, whereby workers are assigned to a single client account only.  This type of model is advantageous in the sense that by only working on one account, the agent becomes a true expert for that client.  Other contact centers use a pooled environment, where agents may receive or make calls on behalf of several different clients.  These contact centers tend to be more flexible regarding the volume and type of work they are able to perform.  However, quality may suffer if agents are spread too thin and assigned to too many different accounts.

The type of contact center a company needs really depends on its particular business requirements.  While there are many different contact centers out there to choose from, not all of them will be suitable for every company.  Knowing exactly what you need in a contact center is the first step towards finding the right partner and establishing a profitable and lasting outsourcing relationship.

 

Tacamor is a primarily inbound contact center offering high quality customer service, tier 1 technical support, and other contact center services.  Are we the right contact center for you?  Request a quote today to find out!

Do You Love Your Customer Service Call Center? You Should!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Tacamor!  Let’s celebrate the season of love by asking a simple question:

Do you love your customer service call center?

If the answer is yes, that’s great!  If the answer is no, why not?

A call center is more than just a place that customers contact to get answers to problems.  Done right, a customer service call center can be a true mouthpiece for a company, delivering a promotional message just as powerful as any advertising campaign.  Customers should come away from a customer service call (or e-mail, or web chat) with a more positive image of the company than they did when they initiated the contact.  They should say to themselves, “Wow, that was a lot less painful than I imagined – going with this company was a good decision.”

A well-run call center can also lower your business costs, and saving money is always a good reason to love something!  This is where outsourcing might come into play, because running your own call center can be a very costly endeavor.  You need to find office space, purchase telephones, computers and other technological equipment, hire managers, administrative staff and agents, provide training, and deal with an almost infinite number of day to day operational hassles.  There are also many “hidden” costs that you might not immediately consider, such as dramatically increased power bills each month or employee turnover costs related to finding and training replacement agents who leave the company.  Simply put, it’s a lot of work, and requires a lot of money.

In a single stroke, outsourcing your call center responsibilities to a professional contact center company immediately eliminates most of these worries, and can free up time and resources while improving your overall customer service.  You need to find the right partner, though.  For example, going with an offshore center that offers the lowest possible price but delivers poor customer service will only frustrate your customers, leading to more problems down the road.  If your business goals include providing a high level of customer service quality with an aim towards retaining existing customers and winning new ones, then a nearshore or onshore customer service provider is probably the best bet.

So, let’s ask that question again:

Do you love your customer service call center?

If the answer is still no, then perhaps you need a new call center!

 

Tacamor has been providing high quality customer service and level 1 technical support since 2006.  Get in touch today and discover for yourself why our clients love us so much!

It’s Okay to Have Fun While Providing Customer Service

Let’s face it.  Unless you have some rare incredible job like gourmet chocolate taster or manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, chances are that your workdays are not exactly going to be a blast 100% of the time.

However, that’s not to say that call center agents can’t have fun while providing excellent customer service.  Here are some ways to liven up the workday:

1. Personalize your workspace.  Unless you are a robot, you would probably admit that staring at bare cubicle walls all day is not very much fun.  So, why not decorate those empty spaces with some photos or artwork?  Most call centers have no problem with their employees doing this as long as nothing controversial or offensive is displayed.  The best part is that it allows you to express yourself.  Do you love animals?  Why not hang up that cute picture of a hamster wearing a tuxedo that you found online?  Or, if you are a sports fan, maybe an action shot of LeBron James dunking would do the trick.  The key is to find things that appeal to you as an individual.  By surrounding yourself with things that put you in a good mood, you are more likely to deliver great customer service while having more fun at the same time.  Of course, this might not be feasible in all call centers, especially in an environment with where each desk is shared with other agents.  While you may absolutely adore that photo of kittens playing tennis, the night shift agent who shares your desk may not appreciate it.

2. Get to know your neighbors.  Before and after shifts, or during breaks, why not strike up a conversation with a co-worker?  Developing a friendly rapport with other call center agents can have many benefits.  An interesting chat can help make the workday go by faster, and if you ever have a particular question or are in trouble, there is someone close by who can help you out.  Who knows — you might even make a new friend.

3. Engage with callers in a fun way.  Many callers appreciate it when their customer service agent interjects some level of individuality or humor into their call.  You have to be careful, though, because not every caller will enjoy this type of thing.  That’s why call center agents need to be chameleons, with the ability to adapt their communication style to suit the preferences of each caller.  Just be sure not to go overboard to the point where it becomes unprofessional or interferes with your ability to efficiently solve their issue.  People in general like to get their issues resolved quickly, and too much personal banter may extend the length of a call to an inappropriate level, resulting in increased Average Handle Time (AHT).  Maintaining an appropriate balance between AHT and other important metrics like First Call Resolution (FCR) can be a constant struggle, and the individual expectations of both the client and the customer must always be taken into account.  Also, just to be safe, it is a good idea to always avoid commenting on any potentially contentious issue like politics or religion.  You don’t want to risk offending the customer.

4. Take part in office activities.  Many call centers have special events like dinners, parties or “themed” workdays such as crazy hat day.  Engaging in these social activities can help to break up the regular work routine while allowing you to build stronger relationships with co-workers and management.  This often results in a less stressful work environment where people are more comfortable with each other.

As you can see, there are many different ways to liven up the workday and have some fun while providing great customer service.  However, it is important to remember that in the end, it is a job, and you have to remain professional at all times.  Having fun is important, but you have to do a good job too!  It’s all about balance.

Projected Call Center Trends for 2012

"Happy New Year from Tacamor!"Happy New Year from Tacamor!

We hope that your 2011 was great and that your 2012 is even better!  To kick-start the New Year, we are going to focus on some call center trends that many experts are predicting to occur or intensify over the next twelve months.

1.  An increasing amount of customer service being brought back onshore.  Simply put, customers are becoming more demanding and do not want to talk to someone who cannot immediately help them.  Cheaper alternatives like offshore call centers are often not cutting it, and are costing companies a lot of revenue by delivering sub-par customer service.  To address this, it is expected that more and more businesses will put a halt to their overseas operations and instead explore higher quality outsourcing options such as onshore or nearshore call centers.

2.  Contact centers will become the emotional mouthpiece for companies.  This is the information age, and these days there are often many different ways to find what you are looking for.  Digital channels such as the Internet and social media can deliver large quantities of information at lightning-fast speeds.  Because information is so easy to find nowadays, when someone calls in to a customer service line they are often looking for something more than a simple answer to their question.  For contact centers, getting better at soft skills like demonstrating genuine interest, empathy and concern for the customer’s issue will become increasingly more important.  Contact centers are no longer simply informational channels, but are also emotional channels for most businesses.

3.  Self-service options will become more prevalent.  Nothing can ever replace the level of customized care you get from a live agent, but in many cases the ability for customers to perform specific account management tasks themselves can be a great advantage, and should become more common throughout 2012.  Companies need to be careful, though.  Making it too difficult to reach a live agent can lead to frustration for many customers.  Also, there are some problems that cannot (or should not) be completely left up to the customer, such as self-serve account cancellation, which makes it impossible to “make a save” and change the customer’s mind.

4.  Movement towards mobility and social media.  Smart phones are becoming more common, which means that mobile applications and social media use will continue to grow.  To embrace this trend, contact centers must be willing and able to deliver customer service via these channels if demanded by clients.  There should also be an increasing need for customer service and technical support for wireless software applications as companies continue to deliver more of their services through mobile devices.

All things considered, the future is bright and 2012 could shape up to be a great year for North American contact centers.  At Tacamor, we certainly are looking forward to expanding our client base and continuing to deliver top-notch customer service and technical support for all of our customers throughout 2012!

12 Customer Service Tips for the 12 Days of Christmas

Red christmas bulbHere at Tacamor, we are committed to providing great customer service throughout all 365 days of the year.  However, as the holiday season approaches, we would like to provide twelve extra special tips that can help you to deliver the best customer care possible during the busy holiday rush.

1. Don’t forget to breathe!  Seriously.  You may have a lot of information to communicate, but blurting it all out in a rush may make the caller feel overwhelmed and confused.  Sometimes it’s a good idea to pause, take a deep breath, and let an idea sink in before continuing on with the rest of your explanation.

2. Try to vary the tone of your voice.  Talking in a dull monotone throughout a call gives the impression that you are not interested and is a sure way to put the caller to sleep.  Changing up your voice to emphasize certain words will make you sound more interesting and engaged.

3. Be patient.  As a customer service agent, you are an expert on your client’s services.  However, most callers probably do not have your level of expertise, and may not understand something after the first explanation.  Be patient, and if he or she does not understand, try to explain it again in different words.

4. It’s okay to ask for help.  We all try to be as prepared as possible, but sometimes an issue may come up that you have no idea how to resolve.  In that case, it is okay to get some help from your supervisor, team lead, or co-workers.  Getting assistance is always a better idea than trying to pretend you know the answer when you really do not.

5. Be forgiving.  The holiday season can be a stressful time for many people.  If a caller snaps at you, don’t take it personally and remember that he or she may be under a lot of pressure.  Remain calm and professional, and definitely don’t snap back.

6. Listen carefully.  People need to know that they are being heard and understood.  Listen carefully, don’t interrupt, and really try to understand exactly what callers are saying so you do not have to ask them to repeat themselves.

7. Spread the love.  The holiday season is a time of joy.  Let the people around you know that you appreciate them by performing small, random acts of kindness.

8. Think positively.  When presented with a challenge, don’t dwell on negative things, but instead concentrate on what you can do to make the situation better.  This applies both at work and at home.

9. Be a chameleon!  No two customer service calls are ever completely identical.  Call center agents need to be able to adapt to the particular circumstances of each individual call and change their communication style accordingly.

10. Mind your Ps and Qs.  Including simple niceties like “please” and “thank-you” in your conversations can go a long way towards making people feel respected.

11. Clear your mind.  Lunch and coffee breaks are great opportunities to get re-energized for the rest of the workday.  Make the most of your breaks by doing something that will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed, like reading a newspaper article or going for a brief walk.

12. Do your best and forget the rest!  When you give your best effort, it’s always enough.  Don’t focus too much on things you cannot control.

Tacamor would like to wish each and every one of you a wonderful holiday season!  To all our clients, employees, family and friends, thank you so much and we hope you enjoy the holidays!

Let’s Talk Technology! (What is an IVR?)

Ever dial a 1-800 number and instead of having a real person pick up on the other end, you get one of those pre-recorded menus?  “For customer service, press 1.  For technical support, press 2.  For free pizza, press 3…” Well, in the call center industry, that pre-recorded voice menu is called an IVR, which stands for Interactive Voice Response.

Basically, an IVR is a routing system that allows a caller to direct his or her call to the appropriate destination by choosing from a list of different options.

There are several different types of IVRs.  Most allow the caller to interact with the system by pressing a number on the phone’s keypad that corresponds with the desired menu option.  Others employ voice recognition technology that requests the caller to actually say something in order to select an option.  I.e. “To take part in our free pizza giveaway event, say ‘free pizza.’” 

Some voice recognition IVR systems are incredibly sophisticated, and simply ask the caller a very general, open-ended question like “Why are you calling us today?” and cross-referencing the response against an existing database of phrases to appropriately direct the call.   So, if the person responds, “I’m calling for free pizza” then the call gets sent to the agents handling the pizza giveaway.

There are many advantages to having an IVR.  Many companies feel that not every phone call needs the attention of a trained employee, and use an IVR system to disseminate basic information like hours of operation, location, and the company’s phone directory.  This allows them to reduce their overall call center staff, and lets their agents focus on other things like specific customer service requests or technical support.

IVR systems can be available 24 hours a day to help customers with simple tasks, and in some cases can allow a caller to perform various self-service options for his or her account.  With some services, you can dial a toll free number and completely cancel your account by simply pressing a few buttons on your phone, all without talking to a live agent.

There are dangers for companies that rely too heavily on IVRs, however.  A business that allows automated account cancellation, for example, misses out on the opportunity for a live agent to resolve the customer’s problem that is causing him or her to end the service.  Because there is no chance to “make a save,” customer retention levels will probably be lower than they would have been without the automated account cancellation option.

There are also problems that can arise if an IVR system is too complicated.  Callers can feel overwhelmed if menus are too long, making it harder to remember all the options — a good rule of thumb is that no menu should have more than four options.  Sometimes, automated voices may be difficult to understand, or may present too much information, extending the length of the call and making callers feel frustrated.  Also, some people simply do not like talking to machines.  People in general are social creatures, and most people out there prefer to have a warm, breathing body on the other end of the line.

So, a company needs to be careful when implementing an IVR system.  Used properly, an IVR can be a wonderful tool to quickly and efficiently direct calls throughout the call center.  An improperly designed IVR, however, can result in frustration and unhappiness for callers.

Even if you offer free pizza.

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