By James Tanner, Managing Director of telecoms specialist Communications Department Ltd.

1. Communicate the goal

Delivering excellent quality of service should be the central aim of any organisation, and doing so, gains a competitive edge.

2. Identify cost-saving initiatives

Reduce inbound call volume by pro-actively driving call traffic to more cost-effective self-service channels, for example by using an enhanced self-service claim-processing website or an interactive telephone voice response system, as appropriate. Adopt a staggered schedule for your workforce.

3. Define and measure 5 call performance targets

It is crucial that all call handling staff understand their own performance targets and know how to achieve them.

4. Segment service levels

Identify and prioritise the different types of calls so that the most important ones (e.g. emergency calls) are answered 100% of the time and no calls are abandoned.

5. Make it easy for customers to contact you

Give customers the choice: Phone, fax, email, SMS, instant messenger on your website, web call me back, online, recorded messages, and the option to leave a message. The easier it is for them to contact you the more likely they are to get in touch.

6. Help call handling staff to be productive

List the top ten customer FAQ’s (frequently asked questions) for each team in order of popularity.

7. Make the technology work for you

Set up automatic routines in your phone system call centre software so calls can be redirected to other teams at busy times. Set up live alarms to alert a supervisor when set predefined inbound call limits have been reached.

8. Strive for service consistency and quality

Set up standard procedures for new client orders and undertake regular customer surveys to ensure your customers are delighted with the telephone service you offer.

9. Improve call handling staff productivity and customer satisfaction

By deploying screen popping software, agents can view the telephone number of the incoming caller, and if it is an existing customer/prospect, their name, address, a/c number, and any notes/history.

10. Training

Agents need to be trained and trained well in multiple areas - they need to be multi-skilled. The wider range of expertise they have, the more productive they become when answering different types of calls. Team leaders should provide ongoing training.

For more information click www.commsdept.com, email jtanner@commsdept.com, or call 0845 013 0123.

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