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Technology and Talent are Key Ingredients for Successful Call Centers

 
May 31, 2017


By Laura Stotler, Telemarketing Software Contributing Editor


Technology and talent are not mutually exclusive in the call center realm. Both have their merits, and a successful and productive call center will employ the right mix of sales talent while taking advantage of technology to complement their skill set. Managers need to be mindful that training and coaching on a consistent basis are the keys to success and keeping teams on track and performing as efficiently and productively as possible.


Phone (News - Alert) etiquette is perhaps the most important attribute of a successful call center agent, and yet most managers take it for granted that once an agent has been trained, they don’t need refreshers. According to a recent blog post from VanillaSoft, which specializes in inside sales and telemarketing solutions, the first few seconds of a phone call set the tone for the entire conversation. Therefore, it is absolutely critical that agents set the right tone and get the right message across to customers and prospects – immediately.

Some key tips for setting the right tone include properly addressing the prospect by their formal title. Agents should also explain why they need to put a call on hold if that is required, and thank the prospect for being patient when they return to the call. The agent should also explain why a call is being transferred as well as inform the prospect of who they will next speak to. Agents should always be prepared and consistent and willing to answer questions or review the call at the end of the conversation. Eating, smoking and gum chewing should not be allowed during a call under any circumstances, and agents should never interrupt or end the call, instead waiting for the prospect to hang up in case they have any final questions or comments.

In addition to reinforcing training and review on these basics, agents can also benefit from a few tips regarding inside sales. These include smiling when speaking, as happiness is definitely conveyed to the caller, as well as speaking slowly and naturally. Agents would do well to allow for a moment of silence after their pitch to give the prospect time to digest the information, and also consistently address the prospect by name. Other helpful behaviors include using verbal cues to let prospects know the agent is listening, as well as repeating their words and phrases to convey understanding. Agents should also work to empathize with the prospect to convey trust and build rapport. And they should maintain a clean and clutter-free workspace to minimize distractions and help them remain focused.

Call center managers would also do well to remember some basic tips, including regularly monitoring and reviewing sales calls for quality and to identify areas needing improvement. Managers can also role play with agents as a coaching technique and train agents on social media selling tactics to better build relationships with customers and prospects. Team members should also be encouraged to read books, articles and blogs about sales to add to their skillsets. And managers would do well to provide agents with easy-to-use sales software with minimal distractions that will aid their efforts rather than technologically challenge them.

Along those lines, technology should enhance an agent’s skillset and should be designed to make the team more productive and efficient. Three basic features to look out for include an auto dialer, which may include preview and click-to-call features and increase call volumes anywhere from 35 to 100 percent. A voice drop feature lets an agent queue up a pre-recorded voicemail and move to the next call rather then waiting and leaving a verbal message. And logical branch scripting ensures messaging is consistent and suited to specific prospects’ responses and needs.

Talent and technology are certainly a winning combination in the call center. But by reviewing some basic calling etiquette and inside sales techniques and combining that with the technology most suited to the task, managers and agents can improve outcomes and ensure the team is operating at peak productivity and efficiency.




Edited by Alicia Young



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