I dont know about you but it never ceases to amaze me the types of people who are put in charge of taking phone calls and handling support. Almost half the time, I encounter people who are complete novices and its like talking to a brick wall and what many companies dont realize is that it is seriously hurting their business.
Three lessons learned from experience on how to improve phone support. Image courtesy – sennms.com
Take for example, a realtor who puts an assistant to notify clients of potential house listings and gather more information about the end client. It turns out that the assistant is more damaging then helpful because she has no understanding on how to deal with the client. Here is an example, she makes a call to the client and client replies that yes, I have received Â your listings and am interested in such and such property. It turns out the assistant has no clue about the property and where it is located even though it was in their list of 20 that they had sent earlier. Well dah – note to the owner of the realtor company – maybe you should have filled her in all the properties and told the support person to make sure they are familiar with all the properties before they speak to a client. Also perhaps you should have not only trained her but put her to the test before you subject us clients to this frustrating experience. I wont tell you the number of subsequent interactions I have had with this company and support person and I ask myself why do I even bother.
Lesson 1: Train your support folks well and ensure that you test them before you make them public!
Another major gripe I have had with support is that they simply cannot take proper details over the phone. So the other day, I had a support person on the phone and knowing that there maybe phone cross communication, I asked her to repeat the email address that I had just given to her over the phone. She starts by getting the first letter correct and saying the second letter incorrectly. Instead of she says and I stop her and say that it should be an Unbelievably, she goes on repeating this four times and I had to stop her each time. However, I discovered that she wanted to reiterate the whole text (even with the mistake) so feels happy that she has read everything out first and I should have complied!
Most people would have lost their nerves by now but I managed to keep my cool. The subsequent conversation was cut short because she abruptly hung up on me.
Lesson 2: Listen to your client and hear what they are saying not what you want them to hear!
On another occasion I had another support call that was a little dumfounding to say the least. Previously, I had communication via email with this person and it wasnt on a trivial matter, it was in fact the sale of my house. So the person is fully aware of the representation of the house sale and it was another 2 weeks that they came back through my realtor requesting more info. So I call them and they dont reply and my realtor gets on my back, so I call them yet again leave a message knowing that I am going to press hard this time. I also sent an email to jog their memory of my call. Well guess what, the call finally came through from the person that I was dealing with all this time via email exchanges. Ok, I thought to myself, progress at last, but then the most bizarre thing happened where the person appeared clueless as to what I was talking about even though I had mentioned my house details etc. So at the end I say rather glibly, you needed something, so here I am. She makes an excuse to go and get the file without even apologizing. Of course this matter got resolved but I wont bore you with details of ensuing conversations. It struck me that these folks maybe too busy with work? But I didnt get that impression having talked to her and two of her assistants. What I did learn is that they do not share any communication with each other and pretty much pushes files to each other. The result is that they appear dim and inefficient from the clients side.
Lesson 3: Be very courteous to your customer, even if you cannot place what they are talking about and be prepared with the file beforehand when you are talking to the customer, that is just plain common sense.