Call centre insider tips 📞

MSE_Laura_F
MSE_Laura_F Posts: 1,567
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MSE Staff
Have you ever worked in a call centre, dealing with customers' queries?

What are your tips for callers that'll get them the best service and deals?

If possible, let us know which company you work/ed for too. Thanks.

Comments

  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 9,208
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    Numerous companies, lots of financial services and retail as well as arts organisations.

    Number one tip - be polite.  Don't make demands, don't whine, moan or cry.  Be nice and address the person by name, ask if you are pronouncing it correctly. 

    If you aren't getting what you want be sure to ask or offer a suggestion on how you might be happier with your choice.  I used to work box office for an international music organisation and people were disappointed to find out the only way they could get 4 seats together meant they would be up in the rafters.  Many would be happy to get great seats if it meant the 4 sat separately.  Some were actually thrilled with the idea (as in "oh lovely!!  I hate sitting with my husband/best friend as they twitch non stop!")  Likewise with finance companies, particularly when complaining tell them what you think would resolve the problem - if it's reasonable you might just get it.  (so ask for £50 compensation but be happy with £25, don't get cranky as you think you should get a massive amount)

    When you're complaining make it clear you're not complaining about the person you are talking to but someone/something previous.  Suggest you complaint is passed along as feedback that might be helpful.  ("I know it's not your fault, Julia, but Bob that I talked to last week obviously didn't understand the issue, maybe he needs to review your processes?")
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”
  • born_again
    born_again Posts: 13,528
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    Honey catches more flies than vinegar

    Remember it is another human on the other end of the phone.
    Life in the slow lane
  • swingaloo
    swingaloo Posts: 2,638
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    15 years in a call centre dealing working for a kitchen manufacturer that supplied a large company.  Dealing with the stores customers and the aftercare on behalf of the stores. As you can imagine, nothing gets a person more irate than a kitchen fitting not going to plan so we got fired at from all angles. That coupled with atrocious waiting times to get through meant the customers were fuming before we actually answered.

    First mistake made by many call centre operatives is not giving the caller time to vent. I always found it worked to listen the caller out then empathise then say I would try to help.  Do that and you diffuse the situation a lot.

    From the other side, if you call you need to understand that the person in the call centre has done nothing personally to deliberately annoy you. They may well be as annoyed by the company procedures the caller is. 

    Don't 'demand' and stay realistic. No amount of shouting and abuse will get you the remedy you want 'now'. Treat the operator with respect (as they should you) and often they will go above and beyond to help you. You are far more likely to get a result if the operator finds you pleasant to deal with.

    One thing which annoyed me was when a caller started out with 'I want a manager'. If I went to  manger at that point I would have been reprimanded for not trying to help first. 
    Another thing about demanding a manger is that the manager is not necessarily  going to help you any more than the operator. They manage staff but dont have the product knowledge, system skills or ordering facility to do what you need. Any calls passed to a manager would be dealt with by the manager saying 'I do apologise, leave it with me and I will get it sorted for you'. Off the phone goes the caller feeling smug that they have by-passed the system and got a result by going straight to the top.
     The manager would then pass the issue back to the operator who would find the remedy, re-order the part and arrange a delivery then call the customer back.  Customer thinks it is a result of asking for a manger but its nothing of the sort.
    I knew I was more than capable of dealing with any issue so the customer wanting to by pass me and go to the top just got my back up. 

    Things also happen which is out of the operators control. I may have got a call because the wrong thing had been delivered to a customer, which was obviously my fault as far as the customer was concerned. Yet the fact was that the store had ordered the incorrect item that our company had delivered so our company were not at fault yet it was clearly my fault that the fitter had been unable to fit the incorrect door and has wasted a full day!. Remember that the person you are shouting at is not the culprit.

    From my point of view there was nothing more satisfying than a customer finishing a call apologising for swearing at me and thanking me for my help. I loved the job but I saw dozens of people break down in tears after an awful call and several operators leaving the job due to the abuse.
    Its not for everyone.
  • DullGreyGuy
    DullGreyGuy Posts: 8,959
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    Have you ever worked in a call centre, dealing with customers' queries?

    If possible, let us know which company you work/ed for too. Thanks.
    Did a decade in contact centres including:
    • Mail Order inbound complaints/queries/sales
    • Warranty outbound sales
    • Telecoms inbound queries
    • Gas/Electric inbound sales/queries
    • Water inbound queries (unfortunately you don't get double pay after getting all the utilities unlike Monopoly)
    • Supermarket inbound complaints/queries
    • Insurance inbound claims for Motor focused on disputed liability and modest injuries
    Wouldn't want to name companies on the open forum 

    What are your tips for callers that'll get them the best service and deals? 

    Call early, its when its easiest to get through

    IVR/Call Steering may be a pain but listen to it and make the best selection... if you just randomly go through the probability is after the 30 minute queue you will need to be transferred and queue again

    Echo comments above about being nice, I am much more likely to be helpful to someone thats being nice to me than someone thats calling me/my colleagues useless etc

    I'd strongly avoid quoting "law", despite it recommended frequently on these forums. If you do... make damned sure you know exactly what you are talking about. You start looking very foolish when you are demanding your rights and then misquote legislation. 

    Certainly drop the racist attitudes... don't challenge if the persons name is really "Sarah" or that they aren't in the UK just because they've an Indian accent... once sat in with a call centre agent who was of Indian descent but born and raised in the UK and honestly was called Sarah. A scary proportion of callers were abusive to her because of her accent. 

    Be clear what outcome you want and be realistic... too many will state there's a problem (eg item delivered 2 hours late) and then just leave it hanging... I don't have a Time Machine, I cannot make the delivery happen earlier than it did. What do you want me to do? No you won't get your sofa for free because it was delivered 2 hours late that aint going to happen. 

    I don't need your life story, an item that was to be a present was delivered damaged, thats all I really need to know, I don't really need to know the intended recipient looked after you as a kid when your mum was ill and you wouldn't have been able to go to university without their support etc. My bonus is based on how long these calls are.

    swingaloo said:
    One thing which annoyed me was when a caller started out with 'I want a manager'. If I went to  manger at that point I would have been reprimanded for not trying to help first. 
    Another thing about demanding a manger is that the manager is not necessarily  going to help you any more than the operator. They manage staff but dont have the product knowledge, system skills or ordering facility to do what you need. Any calls passed to a manager would be dealt with by the manager saying 'I do apologise, leave it with me and I will get it sorted for you'. Off the phone goes the caller feeling smug that they have by-passed the system and got a result by going straight to the top.
     The manager would then pass the issue back to the operator who would find the remedy, re-order the part and arrange a delivery then call the customer back.  Customer thinks it is a result of asking for a manger but it's nothing of the sort.
    In my supermarket call centre we were all Customer Service Managers and so such customers you could honestly say that you are a manager. The main intent was that CSAs in store could use us as an escalation to a Manger if the instore CSM wasn't available but we were the same pay grade and on same monies as an instore CSA. 

    Unfortunately a lot of customers are very prejudiced, in the above case our team leader was a local lass, knew everything there was to know about the business but had a very local accent. More than once a call escalated to her they then rejected her as a team leader and wanted a "manager". I was then wheeled out even though technically its back down the chain (I am a "manager" though) and because I've a male middle class accent people accepted what I said even if it was word for word identical to what she had said... there was just an assumption I was more senior.

    What team managers are does vary notably between companies... in many places I've worked the team manager has been promoted internally and so does have the knowledge of an agent. In my claims days they did try hiring a people person manager as our team had grown too big for the 1 manager and the incumbent was very technical (and not very people orientated). The thing totally failed, there were technical parts of the job (they had to authorise payments, do file reviews etc) and he just never learned them.

    I can understand the frustration that drives the request to speak to a manager but also why it may not be sensible given the potential smoke and mirrors, the fact they may be man managers not technical experts and with a 15:1 ratio (or worse) its likely to be a long wait. 
  • If you write the manager a poem about how much much you enjoyed the product or service then you'll probably get some free stuff in return.


  • JSmithy45AD
    JSmithy45AD Posts: 335
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    Forumite
    Have you ever worked in a call centre, dealing with customers' queries?

    If possible, let us know which company you work/ed for too. Thanks.
    Did a decade in contact centres including:
    • Mail Order inbound complaints/queries/sales
    • Warranty outbound sales
    • Telecoms inbound queries
    • Gas/Electric inbound sales/queries
    • Water inbound queries (unfortunately you don't get double pay after getting all the utilities unlike Monopoly)
    • Supermarket inbound complaints/queries
    • Insurance inbound claims for Motor focused on disputed liability and modest injuries
    Wouldn't want to name companies on the open forum 

    What are your tips for callers that'll get them the best service and deals? 

    Call early, its when its easiest to get through

    IVR/Call Steering may be a pain but listen to it and make the best selection... if you just randomly go through the probability is after the 30 minute queue you will need to be transferred and queue again

    Echo comments above about being nice, I am much more likely to be helpful to someone thats being nice to me than someone thats calling me/my colleagues useless etc

    I'd strongly avoid quoting "law", despite it recommended frequently on these forums. If you do... make damned sure you know exactly what you are talking about. You start looking very foolish when you are demanding your rights and then misquote legislation. 

    Certainly drop the racist attitudes... don't challenge if the persons name is really "Sarah" or that they aren't in the UK just because they've an Indian accent... once sat in with a call centre agent who was of Indian descent but born and raised in the UK and honestly was called Sarah. A scary proportion of callers were abusive to her because of her accent. 

    Be clear what outcome you want and be realistic... too many will state there's a problem (eg item delivered 2 hours late) and then just leave it hanging... I don't have a Time Machine, I cannot make the delivery happen earlier than it did. What do you want me to do? No you won't get your sofa for free because it was delivered 2 hours late that aint going to happen. 

    I don't need your life story, an item that was to be a present was delivered damaged, thats all I really need to know, I don't really need to know the intended recipient looked after you as a kid when your mum was ill and you wouldn't have been able to go to university without their support etc. My bonus is based on how long these calls are.

    swingaloo said:
    One thing which annoyed me was when a caller started out with 'I want a manager'. If I went to  manger at that point I would have been reprimanded for not trying to help first. 
    Another thing about demanding a manger is that the manager is not necessarily  going to help you any more than the operator. They manage staff but dont have the product knowledge, system skills or ordering facility to do what you need. Any calls passed to a manager would be dealt with by the manager saying 'I do apologise, leave it with me and I will get it sorted for you'. Off the phone goes the caller feeling smug that they have by-passed the system and got a result by going straight to the top.
     The manager would then pass the issue back to the operator who would find the remedy, re-order the part and arrange a delivery then call the customer back.  Customer thinks it is a result of asking for a manger but it's nothing of the sort.
    In my supermarket call centre we were all Customer Service Managers and so such customers you could honestly say that you are a manager. The main intent was that CSAs in store could use us as an escalation to a Manger if the instore CSM wasn't available but we were the same pay grade and on same monies as an instore CSA. 

    Unfortunately a lot of customers are very prejudiced, in the above case our team leader was a local lass, knew everything there was to know about the business but had a very local accent. More than once a call escalated to her they then rejected her as a team leader and wanted a "manager". I was then wheeled out even though technically its back down the chain (I am a "manager" though) and because I've a male middle class accent people accepted what I said even if it was word for word identical to what she had said... there was just an assumption I was more senior.

    What team managers are does vary notably between companies... in many places I've worked the team manager has been promoted internally and so does have the knowledge of an agent. In my claims days they did try hiring a people person manager as our team had grown too big for the 1 manager and the incumbent was very technical (and not very people orientated). The thing totally failed, there were technical parts of the job (they had to authorise payments, do file reviews etc) and he just never learned them.

    I can understand the frustration that drives the request to speak to a manager but also why it may not be sensible given the potential smoke and mirrors, the fact they may be man managers not technical experts and with a 15:1 ratio (or worse) its likely to be a long wait. 
    16 years on various projects and can confirm all of that.

    I've had customers who have phoned back after abusing female colleagues and they're meek as a mouse when they get me especially on certain projects (I won't go into details).

    When calling, always be polite and friendly without being too chummy. Don't ask them how they're doing as they just want to help you (yes, we really do) and not have a long conversation. Have your information ready and to hand, such as payment details as we don't want to hear "I'll just go and get it". If it's not your name on the account then, no, we can't take your word for it that you are authorised to speak on their behalf and don't ask us to hold on as they've just popped out and they'll be back shortly.

    We don't ask for personal details just to be awkward, it's called GDPR and it's illegal for us to access your account without you confirming it.

    In regards to the above, DO NOT create an account with false name and address but your payment details and then get abusive when we can't even locate the account as you've forgotten the details you used (and yes, I had one awhile back who did that).
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