“Your call is important to us” – Why it’s a terrible message to give

We’ve all heard this statement when waiting in queue for the next agent, it’s now up there with “Hold Please” as an annoyance for most people.

As with most phrasing that catches on, you can find it everywhere from elevators, callcentres and even car parks! It gets even better when you’re trying to pay a bill or get something done when you’ve not much time.

The industry word for these is “comfort messages”, yet the reality is beginning to look like anything but. Sure, if the message is played once, followed by an agent picking up the call everything is great – yet many customers have to listen to this message multiple times on loop before speaking to anyone.

So is there anything else that can be done?

Customers now have a higher expectation of service

With the rise of self-service and instant feedback, many customers now expect a quick response when they call a phone line. Poor service experience is become a much larger factor in loyalty and advocacy – with high wait times leading to many results that hurt your bottom line.

  • Reduced ability to up-sell: Customers won’t entertain the idea of an up-sell if they perceive your standards of service to be low anyway. They also won’t have the time to talk if valuable minutes have been wasted in waiting for an agent.
  • Retention: Unfortunately, many industries thrive on new customers, rather than keeping their existing ones. For this reason, poor service and wait times directly lead to you customer being tempted to move elsewhere.
  • New customers: Ever dialled a new customer sales line, getting through to a sales person within seconds? Then, when your new customer needs to resolve a minor issue, they’re forced to suffer your service line and it’s lengthy wait time. This serves as a rather large “red flag” that your company probably isn’t the great deal they may have been promised.
  • Bad news travels fast: Customers are always more eager to share their experiences of poor service rather than good ones. Social media and review websites now make it even easy to broadcast any negative dealings with your company.

What are the alternatives?

1. Introduce self-service

Frequently performed actions should always be the first ones to introduce self-service for. By targetting these first, you can begin to tailor your service so that customers who genuinely need agent help can get it – leaving the rest to help themselves.

You can also look to advertise and shift customers from one service channel into another. For example; sending a text message to customers who call your support number that advertises a self-service website or app. By doing this, a percentage of customers will actively drop from your inbound line – preferring to handle their account online instead.

2. Tell customers how long they will wait or their position in queue

Instead of a generic “Your call is important to us”, offering a wait time and/or “you’re number X in the queue” message is a far better option. Customers can then gauge whether they have the time to wait for an agent, leaving it later if they need to.

In both of these cases, it’s best to offer a conservative estimate of wait time. Underestimating wait time, will likely introduce another pain point for your customers.

3. Call back during quieter times

Every callcentre goes through quiet periods during the week. By opting to let your customers know when those periods are, you can lessen the load during busy times and spread the workload more evenly.

Mentioning when your quiet periods are, is always a more helpful approach than telling customers to stop calling during busy periods.

4. Agent callbacks

One easy way to help with queue times, is to use callbacks. Here, customers can select a menu option to add themselves to a callback list – removing them from the live queue. You can also ensure that callbacks are added in order, so that no customer is left without a callback for extended periods.

The main benefit to this, is that you’re giving your customer options. The only issue you will come up against, is allowing agents the time to conduct callbacks periodically – difficult if your busy periods carry on for hours at a time.

Roundup

By implementing some, or even all of the tips above, you can begin to turn lengthy wait times around. Even better than that, some of the ideas above give customers the option of what happens next – a huge deal when it comes to customer loyalty.

5 Things Customer Service Agents Should Do On Every Call

The world of customer service is changing rapidly. From websites, social media and mobile device platforms – there are an increasing number of ways for your clients to get in touch with you.

Even so, there’s still nothing that beats getting to talk to a real person, part of the reason why callcentres are still the most popular choice for customer contact. The research all points towards this too, with 79% of consumers all preferring to speak to a human being, rather than use self-service options. Callcentres, always tend to be the most popular customer service channel, second only to a companies frequently asked questions webpage.

With this in mind, what are the things your agents need to do on every call?

Listen actively

Everyone has suffered at the hands of someone who’s not really invested in a conversation. This is where active vs passive listening; customers being extremely adept at figuring out which type of listening your agents use. In most cases, it’s always best to start with an open ended question, so that customers can give you their side of the conversation first. After this, agents should mix between open and closed questions until they get to the root of the issue and all the information necessary to resolve it.

Another great way to show you’ve listened, is to roundup everything at the end of the call. That way, your customers understand exactly what’s going to happen and can query anything they’re not sure of.

The right questions

Asking questions is the bread and butter of all call centre agent work, yet asking the wrong question can prove disastrous for rapport! Simple mistakes like asking the same thing twice and making assumptions all combine to give your clients the idea you’re just not listening to them.

In a similar way to listening properly, asking a mix of open and closed questions will help your agents get to the point quickly. From here, active listening will ensure your agents resolve issues first time – keeping their average call duration lower too.

Empathise

This one should be obvious, everyone likes to feel like their issues are important. Simple phrases like “That must be extremely frustrating” can go along way with letting a customer know you understand how an issue looks from their point of view. By adopting this from the outset, you’ll calm phone calls down – helping you get to the heart of the problem. This is a win-win for the client, who gets to be listened to and will likely get a quicker resolution too.

Building rapport

After being empathetic to your clients issue, the next step is to build a rapport with them. Simple things like learning a little of what’s going on in your customers world can lead to a far smoother and happier conversation. By remembering that the customer is a human being, with everything that entails (family, life, work etc etc) can lead to side conversations that build rapport.

Collecting feedback

Your callcentre agents are by far the most important people when looking to get feedback from your clients. They’ll gain valuable input on the pain points your customers face, plus all the great things your company might be doing at the same time. It’s extremely important to create a system where agents can submit feedback that customers leave – enabling your company to build and improve over time.

Despite the many different customer service channels available to consumers, a direct line to a callcentre agent remains an important avenue for customers. Ensuring that these five key components are a part of every call will contribute to building wonderful relationships with your (very happy) customers.

Phrases that callcentre agents should avoid at all costs!

During every call your centre takes, the language used is extremely important. Agents can take a huge volume of calls each day, so it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of each and every customer interaction.

When an agent handles so many calls per day, using certain phrasing can quickly become second nature – especially as your agents begin to learn their scripts to the point where they don’t review them anymore! The danger of this, is that customers can quickly get the impression that your agents aren’t really listening to them; even worse if they get the feeling they’re being talked down to.

All these things point towards language problems – thankfully all these are easily fixed. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some phrasing that should never be used on your callcentre floor.

No Problem

Why is no problem such an issue? It’s a phrase that on the face of it is perfectly innocent and gets used all the time. In the world of customer service and telesales, quite a few studies have been conducted into the use of “no problem”, all arguing that use of the phrase can make some customers feel like they are in-fact a problem to be dealt with.

Instead, experts suggest using the phrase “your welcome” or even better “my pleasure”. Both these phrases let your customer know you’re happy and eager to carry out any work for them.

Hold Please

No customer likes to be on hold, even worse if the reason why they have to wait hasn’t been explained properly. “Hold please”, is a perennial favourite of the callcentre world, letting customers know that they don’t have any choice in the matter – not a great start! To combat this, many callcentre software programs include quick call back technology, that allows agents to give customers the option to receive a callback once you’ve fixed their issue, or obtained all the information you need to resolve the call.

In circumstances where a hold is unavoidable, it’s far better to ask the customer if it’s okay for them to hold – explaining the reason why and what you’ll be doing whilst away.

“May I put you on hold while I get all the information you need.”

Is a far better phrase to use rather than “Hold please”.

As I Said

Another callcentre agent favourite, “as I said” is often used to re-iterate a piece of information that your customer may not understand, or be entirely happy with. In both these instances, it’s by far the worst sentence you could use, as it immediately adds to any confrontation that may already be involved.

There’s another school of thought here too, that “as I said” is often seen as belittling by your customers. As annoying as it might be for an agent, the easiest method to resolve this is to patiently explain what’s happening, why and what the agent can do next to alleviate any further issues.

I Don’t Know

Nobody has all the answers, all of the time – yet sometimes agents feel like they have to know absolutely everything to conduct their role properly. In reality, no customer is expecting you to have a library of knowledge about your company straight away, so it’s perfectly normal to explain that you’ll have to investigate something before giving the customer an answer. Simply using the phrase “I don’t know”, almost always gives a customer the impression you don’t know and you don’t particularly care about getting an answer.

Instead of simply stating “I don’t know”, it’s far better to confirm any information you need to research the matter, before explaining what you’re going to do next.

“I’m not positive what the answer is there; however, I’m sure I can find someone who has the answers you need. Would you like to hold while do this or would you rather I call you back later?”

This sentence is much less volatile, letting the customers know you’re going to get them all the information they need – even if you don’t know right now.

Round Up

The language used by agents on every call is extremely important and can make the difference between a happy client and a complaint. If you don’t already look at negative language and traps with your agents, now is a great time to review your training and quality procedures. A handful of changes can make all the difference and lead to higher customer satisfaction and less agent stress down the road.

If you currently use the Blue Telecoms system in your callcentre, Get in Touch to find out how we can setup agent callbacks for your callcentre.

Motivational games for telemarketing callcentres

Motivational games can be a great way to keep your agents happy and productive. Our team at Blue Telecoms have implemented lots of different types over the past few years.

Although these games can be great fun, its best to think carefully about where and when to run incentives to get the best result.

If you’re still keen, here are some top suggestions from the Blue Telecoms team.

Knock Out

If you run an outbound callcentre, this is a great way to get your agents selling faster. It also doesn’t require much investment to get going, just a whiteboard marker and board.

To play the game:

  1. Draw a grid on the whiteboard, agent names in one box and sales to the right.
  2. Decide how long you want the game to last – shorter ones are often much better.
  3. When an agent makes a sale, they get to add their initials to the box.
  4. The first team to fill all the boxes wins.

One of the great things about knockout, is that it’s easy to pit agents vs agents or team pods against each other too. As for prizes, we find that longer breaks, early finishes and sweet treats are all great incentives.

Pod Wars

This game, is a spin off from the board game Battleships. Here, agents are arranged in two teams. When one agent makes a sale, they get the chance to “sink” the agent who sits in the same place on the opposing team. The loosing agent, can no longer create sales for their team and the winning agent can receive a small prize. The first team to sink everyone in their opposing team can win a larger “team bonding” prize.

This sounds crazy, yet the team element of the game really begins to make agents work with each other to get more sales. It’s a really good way to help a team bond with each other.

If you’re interested in building a team spirit, it’s worth offering an overall prize that’s worth more than many smaller ones. This could be a spa day or team lunch – anything that involves the team doing something nice with each other.

Snakes & Ladders

The idea behind this game follows the traditional board game closely.

  1. Once an agent makes a sale, they get to roll the dice.
  2. Depending on the score, they get to move along the board – just like the original game.
  3. Agents get to use ladders to move up the board, with snakes bringing them down again.
  4. If an agent rolls a nine, they get to have another go.
  5. First agent to get to the top of the table wins a prize.

This game is really good at developing individual agent performance and also creating a little competition within a single team. You can use many types of metric to drive the game, including sales or quality scores.

You can purchase vertical snakes and ladder boards, with velcro/magnetic markers on eBay and Amazon.

Call centre Jenga

This game is a little harder to run, as you need to keep the Jenga tower up and running for as long as possible; however, it always sparks a healthy interest in all agents!

  1. When an agent makes a sale, they can withdraw a piece from the Jenga building.
  2. If they manage to withdraw the piece without it falling down, they get a point.
  3. Agents keep withdrawing pieces, until the Jenga building falls over.
  4. The agent with the most points, will receive a prize.

This game can be used as a way to boost individual agent performance, or also as a way to pit teams against each other. Whatever way you decide to run the game, it always leads to huge interest and tends to boost agent performance.

Do you have any top game tips?

If you run a callcentre and have great tips for motivational agent games – please leave a comment!

Managing callcentre agent absence

Staff retention and absenteeism are two of the biggest issues that all callcentres face, whether they’re telemarketing or customer service floors. Whatever callcentre you run, you’ve probably discovered that it’s a tough job to not only recruit, but retain and build your centre team.

Thankfully, many people have been through this, leading to some great ideas and tips that’ll help you get the team you require! Here are some top tips from our boffins at Blue Telecoms, discovered over our shared history of working with telesales and customer service centres large and small.

First of all, a quick tick list to work through

  1. Check your current employee policies – Sometimes, policies can left for years at a time without being adequately trained on or updated. Now is the perfect time for a spring clean of your staff handbook, ensuring that every member of staff is on the same page.
  2. Learn from your managers/supervisors – As the “front line” staff dealing with agent issues on a daily basis, there really is nobody better to ask how your current policies work and where things could be improved.
  3. Provide support where needed – It’s important that your supervisory and management staff know exactly where to signpost agents when they have a query/issue.
  4. Good reporting – It’s vital to introduce clear reporting for human resourcing and team leaders. Typical reports like absence levels, emergency leave, maternity etc etc all help to build a good view of what’s happening.
  5. Look back on “back to work reviews” – Often, you can discover common themes that occur time and again – leading to changes in policy that may help agents attend work more often.

Special events might cause a spike in absenteeism

Always ensure that your contact centre team is aware of any large events that may cause a spike in absenteeism. Depending on the average age/demographic of your centre, this can include sports events, festivals or Bank Holidays.

Many years ago, one member of our team received an email from the director of human resources whilst working in a previous role:

“I know a lot of you are going to the festival and I hope you have a really good time and get home safely. The holiday allocation for Monday is now full.

I just want to let you know that anyone who calls in sick on Monday will be doing their return to work with me when they get back.”

A slightly frightening way of dealing with the issue; however, it did yield results!

Manage holidays in terms of hours, rather than complete days

By managing your staff holidays and absence in terms of hours, you can provide a more granular approach to allowing time off whilst managing the business needs. The easiest way to see this in action, is to think about times that staff take a morning/afternoon off – especially true of things like medical appointments or childcare.

The benefit of this, is that you may be able to atleast partially approve days off for your staff – even if a full day is stretching agent availability.

By doing this, you can help your agents book the time that they genuinely need, whilst minimising the holidays available at later times of the year – a win win for everyone!

Split the contact centre into smaller teams

By splitting your callcentre into smaller groups, you can help foster a sense of team spirit amongst your agents. You may also find that this reduces absenteeism due to the fact that your staff feel more sense of a duty to turn up and help their colleagues/friends.

You don’t have to split your agents by department either, by simply having Team A, Team B and Team C in your centre all carrying out the same role – you can achieve the same effect.

Combatting stress

Often, staff members take time off purely down to the pressures of their role. This then increases the workload on the remaining team members, leading to further absenteeism – it’s a vicious and compounding cycle to get into.

The best way to combat this, is to literally ask your agents during any survey or meeting “what’s the part of your role that causes the most stress”. The answers you get may surprise you, leading to changes in policy that will have a huge long term effect on your staff retention, productivity and wellbeing.

There’s an old adage in human resourcing that says “employees leave poor managers, not jobs”. With this in mind, it’s always worth cross referencing high levels of stress with particular managers. No callcentre owner willingly promotes bad managers into senior roles; however, sometimes a star agent isn’t always suitable for a promotion where leadership and charisma may be required.

Childcare vouchers

For many callcentres, your best staff aren’t young people just starting out in their careers, but slightly older ones who are now starting families. It’s for this reason, that our next suggestion is a really good one! If a child falls ill, or childcare arrangements break down – there’s often little a parent can do other than call in sick. There’s also the issue that childcare can become a huge percentage of the household budget if both parents work.

To help alleviate this issue, callcentres can offer childcare vouchers that can help pay for the care their child needs.

Leadership and ownership

There’s nothing worse for a callcentre agent, than the feeling that they’re “all alone” on the centre floor. Quickly, they’ll feel overworked, overstressed and eventually become disengaged with their role. From here, absenteeism and retention become use issues.

A quick way to combat this, is to utilise your best performers as coaches for your staff. They can help with common issues and provide support when agents have to tackle difficult work. This offers another positive impact too, as your team leaders and managers become more free to think about overall ways to improve moral and support.

Document everything

For staff members who are habitually late and/or absent, it’s important to document everything properly. Far too many callcentres offer “perks” to agents who might be highly liked by team leaders/supervisors – so it’s vital to ensure that the same rules on absenteeism apply to every team member.

By creating a solid documentation program, you’ll ensure that every agent is treated in the same fair way.

Tie incentives to attendance

By looking to add an attendance part to your achievement bonuses, you can offer perks for team members who routinely come to work on time every day. This can have two positive outcomes:

  • Team members who are frequently late/absent may decide to make the effort to attend properly.
  • Those who do attend, will feel rightly rewarded for being conscious employees.

Try not to create too strict an attendance policy

There’s a huge difference between gently improving absenteeism rates and clamping down too hard. In practice, the later may actually have the effect of increasing staff turnover, as potentially great hires decide that they just can’t/don’t want to meet your high standards of attendance.

To help with this, offer some room to cope with unintended absences. It’s also a great idea not to deploy the full force of your policy for staff members who make the occasional mistake, or have a genuine emergency situation. Offering shift swaps and being lenient in cases of extreme weather will also help avoid bringing stress on team members who generally turn up on time, every day.

Hire the correct staff first time

Hiring the wrong staff can cause all types of problems within your callcentre, including retention and absenteeism. To help with this, you can use pre-employment screening and good recruitment practice to help onboard the right staff for the role you need to fill. We’ve seen and heard horror stories of male owned callcentres that only hire attractive young ladies, whilst others tend to attract extremely poor quality employees overall – leading to a centre that has no diversity and a pack mentality that causes all kinds of human resource issues!

We suggest trying to hire agents from all walks of life, young and old. You’ll find that younger members of staff will look up to older ones, and that some demographics will “behave themselves” when in the company of another – it’s a great way to create a happy and harmonious callcentre floor!

To get started with employee screening is easy and there are plenty of free/paid questionnaires and tests that you can deploy straight away.

HIYA, Truecaller and improving your contact rates

If you’re running a telesales or telemarketing callcentre in 2019, there’s one aspect of your operation that’s probably been worrying you the most. Over the past year, a suite of new anti spam call apps have hit the market, 3 of them becoming extremely popular across both Android and iPhone platforms.

Android Anti Spam

Android, have now incorporated an anti spam call protector within their latest updates. This works by filtering incoming calls and displaying an alert for numbers that have been marked as Spam/Scam by the Android user base.

In operation, it looks  like this:

Unfortunately, if your outbound callcentre has had its number flagged, this is the message given on every call attempt to an Android phone.

Truecaller

Truecaller, is available for both Android and iPhone, with a global user base of over 250,000 million users. Primarily designed as a chat/phonebook app, Truecaller now offers and fully fledged anti spam option.

HIYA

HIYA, is an anti spam app for both Android and iPhone, it offers the ability to screen calls and also send spam/scam numbers to voicemail.

Why is this such a problem?

For the end user, it’s probably a great thing. If they would rather not receive telemarketing or sales calls then they can download one of these apps – instantly blocking them. However, for callcentre managers, it’s another issue to deal with along with GDPR and Ofcom regulations.

At Blue Telecoms, we’ve noticed a drop in contact rate of up to 40% once an outgoing number has been flagged as spam/fraud. This, coupled with an overall increase in data costs means that it’s more important than ever to try and keep your outgoing numbers clean.

How to maintain your contact rate?

There are a couple of ways to improve contact rates. Some of these ways tackle the problem from the data end, ensuring that you make contact with clients who genuinely want your service – whilst others focus on improving your cold prospect contact rates.

1. Web leads

Many callcentres have begun making the switch to generating their leads via the internet. There are many providers who specialise in the generation of hot key leads, with the option of operating your own web lead department if you have the expertise. Although these leads are more expensive than raw data, they offer the promise of higher conversions – due to the fact you’re calling clients who have enquired first.

At Blue Telecoms, we offer the ability to send web leads directly into your dialler system. Regardless of the provider you choose, you can send leads direct – ensuring that the prospect is called straight away.

2. Number rotation

Another way to boost your contact rate, is to use number rotation. Essentially, this means using a small selection of telephone numbers, deploying using each one as your outgoing number on every call. This means that you’re not using the same number repeatedly, helping to keep each number clean and unmarked for longer.

The only caveat here, is that all your outbound numbers need to follow Ofcom rules, ensuring that all numbers route back towards your agents and making sure that your drop messages comply properly. You should also only use local numbers when your business has an active presence within that region – whether that be an office, sales team or sales centre.

3. Registering your numbers

As a reputable callcentre, it’s worth registering your outbound numbers with each call app provider. This means that your customers will see the name of your company when your agents call – helpful for legitimate companies who want to build a good brand.

https://hiyahelp.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360000397147-FAQ-Hiya-for-Businesses

https://support.truecaller.com/hc/en-us/sections/360000121705-Registration

Round up

Operating a telemarketing callcentre is a tough job, yet by following some of the options above you can alleviate some of the issues that call block apps throw up. If you’d like to talk about your dialler and how to boost your contact rates, please get in touch with the Blue Telecoms team.

Customer psychology and improving sales conversions

There’s an important saying in the world of sales, when you understand how humans tend to think – you can do alot to improve customer behaviour and sales.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at how you can use psychology to help improve your sales conversions.

The science bit

In science, there are two parts of the brain that are known to play a part in decision making. In reality, these parts come to their final decision in hugely different ways!

The instinctive part

This part of the brain tends to make snap decisions. This is the reason why shops stock nice things like sweets or snacks by the till – or small helpful things that don’t. The instinctive part of the brain will look at these products and make a quick decision to buy.

The reflective part

This section, is slower to come to a decision – reflecting on the pros and cons of a product before coming to a final decision. In the world of psychology, it’s widely known that 90% of decisions are make with the instinctive brain, whilst the remaining 10% is a slower process using the reflective part.

When we use the instinctive brain we think… When we use the reflective brain we think…
Quickly Slowly
Subconsciously More self-aware
With emotion With thought
With ease With effort

Unfortunately, as most of us spend our time using the instinctive part of our brain, we tend to bring all kinds of unconscious biases into our thinking. In essence, there are three separate biases that we tend to bring to every decision we make.

The three biases of thinking

You can start deploying this science by helping your agents think about the biases during training. Once they understand the science, they’ll be able to start applying it to their daily calls.

1. The authority bias

In essence, this is the thought process we take when we follow a charismatic leader. In the world of sales, it’s best described as when a sales person takes ownership of a conversation.

“We tend to trust people in authoritative positions, such as Doctors, Teachers or the Police. We also place more emphasis on the things they say.”

How to use this? Basically, teach your agents to take more ownership over every call. By sounding authoritative and full of information, your agents can gain the trust of your customers – helping them have faith in their competence.

2. The cognitive overload bias

Commitment bias, is the idea that humans like to follow through on the things we say we’re going to do. Once we’ve told someone, we tend to hook ourselves into it. In psychology, this is referred to as the sunk cost bias.

“In one study, when asked to specify their exercise goals and sign a contract to acknowledge their commitment, people were 50% more successful in achieving their fitness goals than those who did not sign a contract.”

How to use this? Try to gain some form of commitment during every call. This helps to hook your customers into a mental contract that they’ll need to do something – whether that be a meeting, signup or commitment to go ahead with a sale.

Applying these biases in daily callcentre life

By thinking about these biases, you can slowly build your agent scripts and coaching to try and shape customer behaviour. Many callcentres already use this science, including big names like Saga and Fidelity. It’s not just sales either, customer service centres can use these techniques to improves things like average call handling times and overall customer experience.

1. Reduce the average call handling time

By changing your initial agent greeting, you can start to build the authority needed to breeze through calls. Some callcentres state that they can improve average durations by as much as 20%.

To start, let’s take a look at a standard opening greeting.

“Hello, my name’s Vicky, how can I help you today?”

[Customer Response]

“That’s great, before I speak to you I need to ask some security questions.”

Unfortunately, this script lacks authority and begins to shift the focus of the call away from what the customer needs. To fix these issues, we changed the greeting slightly.

“Hello, my name’s Vicky, I’m a customer support agent at [Company], can I take your customer number and full name please?”

[Customer Response]

“Thank you, also, to help you with your query, I just need to ask you three security questions.”

In this greeting, the agent tells the customer exactly what their role is and what their expertise within the company might be. They’re also using more direct questioning to obtain the all important data protection information. This also has the dial effect of asking the customer for direct information, rather than leaving the conversation open ended. Helpful signposts also help the customer understand exactly what they’ll need to complete the call on their end.

Another interesting change, is the way the agent is telling the customer that there are three security questions. This again signposts the customer on what’s going to happen next and what to expect. This helps move the call along at a smoother pace.

2. Selling via service

By altering how you present options to your customers, you can help to improve you overall sales conversion rate.

Have a look at this example:

“These are three of the options available for your next plan:

1. You can have a conversation with an advisor to help you find the best plan for you.

2. You can choose a product now and we can help you with any paperwork or documents.

3. You can schedule a meeting with an advisor if now is an inconvenient time for you.”

In this script, we’re using some powerful tools to help boost your sales rate.

1. The power of three

Human beings love to have three options available to them. It’s for this reason this script offers three separate solutions to the next step in their sales journey. The rule of three has been used in countless ways since its discovery, including “Stop, Look & Listen” and also the famous slogan of “Snap, Crackle & Pop” in breakfast cereals.

By splitting options into three, you can help your customer digest the information quickly and come to a faster decision.

2. Ordering by preference

In this script, the options are presented in an order that suits the customer and how the company would rather sales come in. For example, leaving the option for a scheduled meeting to the last helps to minimise leaving customers go without a sale.

3. Conversational English

By using conversational language, rather than business/jargon, you can help conversations sound more natural. This helps customers understand their options faster and make quicker decisions.

Reducing dead air time

Sometimes, your agents will have to spend a few moments finding information. The way your scripts handle this is extremely important.

“I’ll just have a look at the system.”

[Followed by silence]

Unfortunately, this leaves many moments of dead air without telling the customer what’s about to happen.

“If I go quiet for the next few moment, I’m just finding up to date information on your account. Is that okay?”

Once again, good signposting and letting the customer know exactly what’s happening ensures your agent stays in control of the conversation. Sometimes, there’s not much we can do about dead air – yet we can always explain to the client what’s going to happen during that dead air period.

Wrapping up

As most of your customers make decisions by instinct, using unconscious biases to your benefit can have a huge effect on how calls flow. Some callcentres already do this, leading to an increase in sales, average call handling times and improved rapport during every call.

By finding a practical use for psychological principles, you can find another tool to help improve customer conversations.

Positive scripting in call centres

Creating an agent script that gets your message across, without sounding pushy or even negative can be extremely hard. As experienced call centre veterans, we feel your pain!

Here are some top tips from our callcentre team on how to create a positive script that gets the job done every-time!

What is positive scripting anyway?

Put simply, positive scripting is a way of designing a service/telemarketing script and formulating its message so that you don’t frustrate, anger or mislead your customers.

In the world of telesales, it can also serve as a handy roadmap towards your desired outcome – whether that be a sale, generated lead or customer signup.

Examples of positive scripting

By using more positive wording in your script, you can help to support a positive customer experience.

In the table below, here are some examples on how to take a normal script and give it a positive makeover:

Instead of… Say…
“Unfortunately, that level of cover is not included in your package…” “At the moment, your package doesn’t cover this; however, we can look to see if there’s a more appropriate package for you.”
“I’m sorry, but we’re unable to book you in for an appointment for 3 weeks.” “Unfortunately, we’re very busy at the moment and don’t have availability. I can still book you in and look to find you a cancellation though…”
“I’m sorry, the item hasn’t yet been delivered. You’ll have to wait for it to arrive.” “I’m sorry the item hasn’t been delivered. Let me check with the courier and see how quickly we can fix this for you.”
“I’m sorry but I can’t give you a refund.” “Unfortunately, I can’t offer a refund; however, I’ll be able to repair your item as it’s under warranty.”

Putting together your positive script

Before you begin, it’s worth checking that your script doesn’t have any negative sentiment within it. Once found, you should try and re-write the script to make those negative aspects sound positive.

Once you’ve ironed out the negative sentiment, it’s time to format the flow of your script so that agents feel comfortable using it. You can find out how to craft a telemarketing script by using our earlier guide and also read up on giving your outbound sales campaigns a cheeky boost too!

If you’re pressed for time, here are some helpful chat all tips that should help in any setting:

1. Don’t try to push everything onto one page

Unfortunately, some callcentre managers try to push all the information onto one page during the call. This can lead to unhelpful pauses, as agents try to navigate a mass of information by eye.

Instead, you can make use of intelligent scripting and call-flows to help your agents find what they need, when they need it most. Call centre diallers like the ones Blue Telecoms offer, have these features built in as standard – helping you create a call-flow that empowers your agents during every call.

2. Closed questions keep your script on track

Sometimes, it’s easy for your agents to ask an open ended question – before the call quickly goes off track to the desired outcome. This can also have the effect of “throwing off” your agent, leading to more confusion later in the call.

By creating your script with built in closed questioning, you can help keep your agents on track – making their lives easier and lowering your average call duration.

3. Avoid paper scripts

Paper scripts are the bane of many callcentres. They’re often hard to read, cause agents to pause frequently and also make updating your scripts harder to update.

By running your scripts via your dialler/call centre software of choice, you can make updates in realtime and ensure all your agents have the most up to date information.

Testing your scripts

There are a number of ways to slowly test your script before it goes live. Even after agents begin using them on live calls, you can still regularly review scripting to fix any errors.

  • Roll playing
  • Looking for gaps within the call-flow
  • Asking agents what they think of a script
  • Comparing the quality scores for different types of script

Reviewing your scripts

This is something that larger callcentres do as a routine; however, it’s something often missed by their small counterparts.

It’s worth reviewing your scripts on a monthly basis, ironing out gaps in the conversation or improving the information your agents have to hand.

  • Average call duration
  • Average time a customer exits the call and when it occurs
  • Average quality scores
  • Customer intent and mood
  • Your agents experience in using the script

Once you’ve reviewed your scripts, you can make incremental improvements over time – ultimately leading to a lean, mean script that covers everything you need to during every call.

How to improve your agents service levels

Ensuring that your agents give the very best service on each call is a tricky thing to achieve. Tiredness, workload and time issues can all caused some calls to be dealt with in a less than perfect way.

Here are some tips from the Blue Telecoms team to help you get the very best from your staff during every client interaction.

Get your quality control team to take calls

A great way to double check your quality team understand exactly what life is like for an agent is to schedule time for them to take calls each month. By regularly talking to clients, they’ll begin to understand the pressures on call centre agents – ultimately creating plans that genuinely improve customer service levels.

Distill all your messages into one email sent each week

Instead of sending multiple emails to all your staff each week, try to distill everything down into one email that you schedule for the same time every week. Sometimes, agents begin to suffer from “email blindness” – where so many messages are sent each day they begin to ignore them. By reducing the overall amount, you can ensure your agents physically read the communications you send out.

Create regular feedback sessions

Often, it pays to have monthly meetings where all members of staff can give feedback. Sometimes, agents can feel like changes are made that make their daily life harder – rather than easier. They can also feel like their own thoughts and ideas are ignored.

A monthly Q&A gives all your agents the opportunity to tell you what they think and also give helpful ideas. It also helps agents feel like they’re part of the driving force that runs the callcentre, rather than simple staff members.

Reward agents with points, rather than prizes

Rather than offer the same old prizes for good performance, why not offer points that your agents can use and save towards giveaways.

You can then create a system where different prizes are equal to different amounts of points.This often gets a complete buy-in from your agents, as they save their points towards prizes they’ll really enjoy!

Breakout areas do make alot of sense

Instead of outright banning agents from speaking at work, why not give them an area where they can talk, chat and relax? This can help create a community amongst your agents, giving them extra reasons to work hard and stay within your company.

You can also extend this to providing a small “social network” that your agents use internally. We wouldn’t suggest that chat function, as this could lead to chatting – rather than working; however, a more static forum based software will work well.

Feedback of the week!

Sharing feedback from customers is a nice way to show agents how their hard work is appreciated.By running a “feedback competition”, you can encourage agents to give the best service they can on each call.

Commission Rates

Developing Telemarketing Sale Commission Rates

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Business Processing Outsourcing centre, or run an internal sales force – having a well thought out commission structure in place is essential. A good structure makes targets challenging to achieve, yet not so completely difficult that agents give up! The best schemes allow agents to not only hit targets – but drive straight through them and keep going.

At the basic level, there are a number of ways to structure a commission scheme:

  1. By percentage: Decide exactly what level of conversion you require, anything over this level is what’s available to pay as commission to your sales agents. For example, if you break even at 10 sales, then a tiered strategy of offering 5% on all sales up to 10, then 10% for 20, 15% for 30 etc etc might be appropriate.
  2. Money earned: For every £250 worth of new business, agents receive 1.5% of the amount.
  3. Fixed targets: A set target with a set amount of cash for hitting that figure.
  4. Team targets: Encourage agents by setting group targets.

Commission always works well to incentivise your agents to sell; however, the main issue is that money can alter behaviour – making staff focus on the wrong things in search for that bumper payday.

Altering Behaviour

One great example of commission rates creating negative behaviour, is the used to static sales targets. Such a target can create negative behaviour in your sales staff:

  • Good performers, might hit their monthly target early on – before coasting through the remaining days. This means that high performing agents may slack off, ensuring your sales rates lower as time wears on.
  • Some staff, may discover “work arounds” to achieve the sales rate early – leading to clawbacks and refunds/cancellations.
  • Good staff, might find the target too difficult to reach – leading to decent sales staff moving on to easier pastures.

In all these case, you might be better moving to a structure where you pay incrementally. For example, if you break even at 10 sales, then a tiered strategy of offering 5% on all sales up to 10, then 10% for 20, 15% for 30 etc etc:

  • Good performers will keep hitting targets throughout the month – maintaining a healthy sales board for the entire month.
  • Good staff will still hit some targets, helping them to feel better about improving their technique.

In all cases, it’s extremely important that you tie commission payments into the quality of sales produced, not just the volume. If an agent have a higher level of cancellation or clawback – they can have commission payments reduced to match. With a good quality and compliance agenda, you can ensure that quality is always on your agents minds. This has the added bonus of weeding out staff who discover those “workarounds” to achieve targets easily.

By focusing on quality plus quantity, you can ensure that your sales agents not only deliver on revenue – but that the revenue will stick.

Example sales commission structure

An example of a good sales commission structure would be as follows:

  • Any sales achieved over 10 daily will generate £2 in commission for each sale above 10
  • If the team generates 50 sales then the agent gets an extra £0.50 per sale
  • A minimum of 90% or above compliance/quality for each sale generated
  • No higher than 5% cancellation rate

This commission structure allows your agents to hit targets and keep improving, whilst ensuring that only quality sales are generated too.