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Diana Chu

July 18, 2016

5 Ways to Improve Your Customer Phone Support

Learn how to improve your call center experience with these 5 tips.

An estimated $62 billion in revenue is lost per year due to poor customer service, and for many businesses, the problem lies in issues with customer phone support.

A recent research study found that 67% of customers switched to a different business as a result of poor customer service just within the last year, and it turns out most customers prefer calling in when they really want to resolve an issue.

  • 70 percent designated calls as the quickest way to resolve an issue
  • 58 percent indicated calling as their preferred method of communication with businesses
  • 45 percent suggested calls are the most effective way to resolve an issue

Despite all the new ways we have to communicate (email, text, chat), most people still prefer to pick up the phone and call when it comes to being a customer.

With all the access we have to research and browsing for options on the internet, it makes sense that more customers are switching providers more quickly than before.

The study concluded reasons for leaving by those who switched over included:

  • feeling unappreciated,
  • unhelpful/rude staff,
  • being passed around to multiple agents,
  • not being able to speak to a person,
  • not being able to get answers, and
  • being put on hold for too long.

The top reasons customers dislike calling companies included:

  • not being able to speak to a “real person” straight away,
  • having to repeat info to multiple agents,
  • being kept on hold, and
  • needing to navigate multiple menus.

Given this information, we can make the right changes to the communications approach and setup for our businesses.

Shep Hyken, Customer Service and Experience Expert, New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, says:

There is a disconnect between how companies think they are doing and what customers are reporting. Customers are more service savvy than ever before, and companies are training customers to expect more tailored experiences.

VoIP and web-based communication tools are a start to customizing the caller experience. Here are five ways teams can use Telzio to improve their customer phone support.

Simplify IVR Menus

IVR menus route callers based on the nature of their issue. A phone menu set up the right way routes callers to a live person quickly and accurately.

General rules for designing an IVR menu:

  • Keep greetings short and simple.
  • Limit menu options to three to five choices.
  • Present most important/popular options first.

Beantown Bed & Biscuit is a Telzio customer that uses a single IVR menu as an automated virtual receptionist. Callers are presented with the option to be connected to the vet clinic by pressing one on their keypad, or to be connected to the other side of the business that takes care of boarding, grooming, and walking by pressing two. From there, callers are immediately routed to a live person on either team.

A simple menu eliminates unnecessary phone time for a human receptionist and routes calls instantly. What’s more, IVR menus work around the clock and can be updated anytime on the Telzio website.

Add Time Limits to Phone Queues

The ability to set time limits in call queues helps to avoid long hold times. Phone queues are a reliable backup to a live support team during occasional peaks, but can easily turn into customer service limbo if not configured properly.

With Telzio Queues, you can set:

  1. the maximum amount of time a caller should be on hold, and
  2. where to route callers after their hold time in the queue has expired.

The callers’ maximum hold time can be set from one minute, to a few minutes, to an hour, to forever.

Callers tend to hang up after 6 minutes.

Customers who have called are looking for the quickest way to resolve an issue, and when the hold time is prolonged it only exacerbates the problem. Setting a time limit is respecting your customers’ time.

Following the hold time period, callers can be re-routed to:

  • another team or user,
  • a voicemail, or
  • a menu.

Each team and phone line can have their own queue, with their own set of configurations.

Offer Callback During Hold Time

Another way to respect customers’ time is to offer them a callback instead of holding in the queue. This way, callers don’t have to hold on the phone and will still keep their place in line.

When it’s the caller’s turn, our system will ring the next available agent, who will then be connected to the caller. With no additional effort required from agents, the callback feature is an easy tool to activate and implement.

Automate Call Routing to Teams

Following an IVR menu, callers are commonly forwarded to a corresponding team, whether it’s sales, technical, billing, etc. Customizing these call forwarding groups, or creating hunt groups as it’s commonly referred to as, helps direct callers to the right place.

Call forwarding groups can contain any amount of users from different locations, and can be filtered to call agents all at once or in order.

By allowing the caller to choose their own destination and forwarding their call directly to that team, callers avoid being passed around and repeating their issue to multiple agents.

Use Attended Call Transfers

Aside from IVR menus and automated call routing systems, an agent who is already on the phone with a caller should use attended call transfers when transferring the caller to another agent.

Attended call transfers eliminate the caller having to repeat their issue, and it provides a higher level of customer service.

  • An attended transfer is when the agent speaks to the new agent taking over the call before the transfer is completed.
  • A blind transfer is when the agent sends the call directly to the new agent without being on the line.

Modern Day Customer Support

As customers become more tech savvy and have more access to alternative services, customer support is also evolving with new standards and communication tools.

Shep Hyken adds:

The companies that deliver great customer service have set the benchmark and with each improvement push the baseline bar higher. What was acceptable customer service last year is far below the bar this year.”

Companies tied to PBX systems and traditional on-site hosted phone systems face increasing costs, maintenance, and feature limitations as time goes on, and are challenged when it comes to continuous innovation and improvement of customer phone support practices.

Telzio helps businesses stay ahead and nimble with rich telecommunication features that are web-based, customizable, and easy to manage. Our platform delivers enterprise type functionality in a modern way, so companies of all sizes can take instant steps to improve their customer phone support.