Hold the door. Be on time. Common courtesy is always a good bet. Cliché, but true. Even in customer service (where manners are paramount), it never hurts to be reminded. Contact centers are lively, energetic places with lots of activity going on. Respecting and protecting time, people, and processes is key. Be mindful of these tips for improving contact center etiquette:
- Serve with a smile. My favorite customer service best practice? Service with a smile! By smiling naturally when you speak, your voice changes. When you smile, your voice projects a sincere attitude that sounds more engaging. Not only does a smile help to form the customer’s first impression of the agent, it can be disarming – especially if the caller is agitated. It’s simple and true: Customer service almost always starts with a smile.
- Listen and be present. For customer service agents, “active listening” may seem like a pretty obvious entry-level requirement. Active listening – that is, fully concentrating on what is being said, rather than just passively ‘hearing’ – is a core skill that involves more than just listening. Being present requires focus, which is at risk if you are distracted with multi-tasking while they are speaking. Keep distractions to a minimum.
- Show courtesy for your fellow agents. There’s nothing like social chatter buzzing in the background to kill focus and concentration (see Tip #2!). Be respectful of others, especially on the floor. Keep personal conversations low. When on break, use the break room. Save the birthday celebrations for the breakroom.
- Pack some extra patience. Customers may be irritated or angry – you can usually gauge this within the first few minutes of the interaction. Sometimes it’s warranted, sometimes not. Either way, you are in the business of serving your customers. Seasoned customer service agents know to not take it personally. To calm down an angry customer, this is where you want to practice empathy and avoid fanning the fire. A simple way to defuse rudeness is by saying: “I can solve this problem for you, but only if we can discuss it calmly.”
- Show your confidence – and your competence! Customers expect you to be the expert. No doubt, it’s a tall order for agents. The faster you can locate information for your customer, the more efficient (and stress-free) your interactions. Know how to navigate your knowledge base. Be familiar with the keywords and tricks for searching, including bookmarks and staying on top of information updates.
- Keep your word. Be trustworthy by keeping your word. If you promise to call back, call back. Always keep the customer informed. For more complex issues that may require further action, be clear about next steps. Explain them exactly how you will follow up – then do it.
- Be mindful of schedule. Watch the dominoes! Be mindful of adhering to your schedule. In a contact center, everything hinges on the schedule. Even minor infractions can wreak havoc very quickly, impacting operations like falling dominoes. Be courteous to others by following the schedule assigned to you.
Pretty simple, right? Basic contact center etiquette really involves respecting people and time. What are your best tips for improving contact center etiquette?