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What Would You Do?: Strike A Balance Between Call Time And Volume

Q: My supervisor has informed our service team that we need to increase our call-volume quota and reduce our call times. With just a five-minute call allotment, I feel like I’m rushing customers off the phone instead of helping them. Can you offer any tips on how to have effective calls in a short time frame?

A: Unfortunately, the restrictions you’re facing are becoming common in many call centers. Dwelling on call quantity and neglecting the most important aspect of customer care -- call quality -- does have its adverse effects, including:

Being rushed off the phone often leaves the customer with unanswered questions resulting in a call back. Now you’ve got two calls with the same customer when you should strive for one.

Squeezing all of your help into a short time frame can leave you feeling flustered and confused, thus passing that confusion on to your customer.

Rushing off the phone leaves little if any time for customer education. Being proactive and making sure your customer understands policies and contracts is a no-go when you’re pressed for time.

But when it’s up to your management staff to supply the policies -- and up to you to follow them -- what can you do to make the short amount of time you have with your customers effective? Create a balance between quality and quantity for your customers with these tips:

If you have more information you’d like to provide your customer, consider asking for his email address, and then email him the extended solution if you think you can’t do it over the phone in time.

Post frequently asked customer questions on your Web site to avoid needing to reiterate the same information to multiple customers. When a customer inquires, give him the Web address so he can visit the site.

Ask your customers the right questions to get to the root of their problems quickly. Find out immediately what they want to accomplish. For example, if a customer calls and the first thing he says is his widget is broken, don’t argue with him about how it broke or who’s at fault. Instead, find out what you can do to make your customer happy and satisfied, and then do it.

Don’t double-verify customer information. If your customers are screened for identity once when they make their initial call, don’t require them to duplicate their efforts.

Ask your supervisor to consider hosting one or two lines for extended queries with different target times. Then when you get a customer who has a complicated or multifaceted problem, you can direct him to that line and move on with your other calls.

Use fast systems. Make sure your computers, software and other electronic devices are up-to-date and functioning properly. Make sure your desks and headsets are ergonomic and that your work station isn’t hindering your productivity.


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