Posted on Thursday, May 14, 2015 in Uptime UniversityBlog written by Rob Swenson
Call center jobs shouldn’t be treated like entry-level positions, says Denise Esper, an expert in helping companies use technology to improve customer service and business efficiency.
Customer service representatives are an entryway to business and should be trained well enough to do more than answer and transfer phone calls or written inquiries, she says.
Handling customer inquiries well reduces frustrations of customers and can increase company profitability, Esper says.
'If you can handle that call to completion, we can get more efficiency.' Denise Esper
“If you can handle that call to completion, we can get more efficiency,” she says.
Esper was the featured presenter at the most recent session of Uptime University, a periodic series of free educational presentations for business leaders in the Sioux Falls area. The May 12 session also included a demonstration of Cloud Contact Center technology by Steve Rueschhoff, a technical sales engineer at SDN.
Esper is the founder of Procentric, a consulting firm in the Austin, Texas area. She has extensive experience in the health care industry, but the principles of good customer service also apply to other businesses.
She advocates a system in which call center employees receive several weeks of training to learn about the host company and its services before handling the duty of live calls. She also suggests that a career ladder be established that offers service reps the opportunity to advance to different levels of responsibility and higher pay without having to transfer to a different department.
Lack of adequate training for customer service reps and corporate appreciation for the job they do is a common challenge among businesses, Esper says.
Dennis Cromwell, vice president of sales at SDN, agrees that a customer service jobs should not be treated like entry-level positions.
“It does require development. They can be considered the front door to your business. They need to know what they are talking about and be able to answer a call or an email,” he says.
Kyle Howard, a strategic accounts technical manager with Enghouse Interactive, says the typical training period for customer service workers in the Sioux Falls region is probably about a week. Enghouse is a global company whose software powers SDN Cloud Contact Center and telecommunications equipment used at many of the nation’s largest call centers.
Howard travels internationally, but he and two colleagues are stationed in the Sioux Falls area because the city sits near the middle the of the U.S. call center industry.
“The interesting thing is that with the push to the cloud, it levels the playing surface. A company with 10 employees has access to the same functionality as Citibank or Wells Fargo,” Howard says.
Advances in technology have opened contact center services to businesses that in the past might not have been able to afford the service or could not justify the cost, he says.
SDN Cloud Contact Center is a subscription-based service that reduces upfront costs for clients by connecting them to off-premise equipment. Technology allows businesses to respond faster and better than ever to customer inquiries, regardless of whether the customer wants to communicate by phone, email, messaging or some other means.
As Rueschhoff demonstrated, using modern call center technology is not difficult. Ease of use allows companies to focus their training on business services, not office equipment, he says.
Interviewers need training, too
Sometimes the blame for a bad interview rests with the person leading the conversation. He or she might lack the training or experience to conduct an effective interview. Here, in abbreviated form, are some hiring and interviewing tips that Esper shared with business representatives who attended her presentation at Uptime University.
- Know details about the position being filled.
- Know the questions; don’t read them to the applicant.
- Jot down the candidate’s key responses.
- Be able to answer most questions about the job and the company.
- Prescreen applicants to get an idea of how they sound on the phone.
- Ask current staff members what type of teammates they want.
- Know what you like about top performing staff members.
- Look for enthusiasm and energy in a candidate.
- Pay attention to questions the candidate asks.
- Experience might be a plus for a candidate, but the lack of it shouldn’t be show-stopper. Applicants with good potential can be trained.
- Ask the candidate to follow up by sending an email so that you can see how well they write.
- Pay attention to the candidate’s greeting and exiting skills.
For more information about SDN Cloud Contact Center and other broadband communication services, visit the SDN Communications website, or reach out for a demonstration using the company’s contact form or call 800-247-1442.