Lockdown and pandemics need not prove an impediment to delivering satisfactory services when employees are confined to and must work from home. It is understandable that the environment is different and that employees do not or may not have access to records and data. Still, one can employ various techniques to serve customers using what equipment and skills your team does have and what is available to them.
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A different attitude
One can understand that employees working from home are under stress and do not have access to the familiar office environment, tools and systems. At the same time, the situation is no different, aside from fewer opportunities to shop in physical stories, for customers with their own set of issues.
It is for you to be accommodative, understanding and empathetic towards customers. Put yourself in the shoes of the customer and be the company representative committed to helping them out as much as you can. Customers will appreciate your patience and everything you can do, regardless of your limitations.
Try to think of solutions rather than excuses or passing the buck. Customers will appreciate it. Sometimes you will have customers who will push your patience and skills to the limit but do try to keep cool and avoid a confrontational approach.
Do not think of it as a chore. Instead, think of it as talking with a friend and you will find interactions become more engaging.
Communicate the way they like
Working from home puts a limitation on communication methods. Improvise. Use what you have.
You have a mobile phone. That gives you access to a variety of modes of communication. To name just a few: voice, SMS, email and app like the ubiquitous Whatsapp. Try phone calls, and then follow up with a text message.
You could ask if the customer would like to chat over Whatsapp or even video call via secure apps like Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Make notes should you engage in a voice or video call, and then send across an official email listing the overview of the talk, assuring your customer that you are doing all you can.
If a conference call is possible, then engage a colleague to further reassure your customer during the interaction. If that is not possible, then convey the matter to your superior and get them to talk with the customer. Follow it up with a call to the customer to check in on the status, and, if it is resolved, request feedback.
Some customers may not like to talk on the phone and will prefer social media. Be agreeable and switch to the channel of their choice. Respond fast and positively and keep track of each customer, being proactive rather than reactive whenever someone raises an issue or a query. A good thing about social media is that you can interact with more than one customer at the same time.
Customers call at any time and request immediate action. You cannot very well cite office hours to fob them off. It helps to be available at any time even after “office hours”. You may not be able to resolve the issue but they do like a response to their phone call even if it is 9 PM. You could assure them that you will take care of it. It gives reassurance and builds trust.
No customer likes to talk with an employee who has very little knowledge about the product or the company. If you say…”I will have to ask the engineer..” or “I will have to check..” it shows you are not knowledgeable enough. If you are going to work from home and handle customers, then you must know your company, its products and customer service policies to give definite answers.
It is not just a job
If you think of attending to customers as a job to be done and then move on, there is little satisfaction or joy. Instead, think of it as a game in which you award points when you deliver satisfaction.
Unified omni-channel communication channel does help
Employees will find it a challenge to juggle phone, SMS, Whatsapp and social media interactions as well as email and chats. It is an additional burden to collate information. Employers would do well to consider omni-channel contact center software with WebRTC, IVR, SMS broadcast and audio conferencing facility. It becomes easier:
- To switch channels of communication and keep track through a single dashboard
- To hold a private chat with a colleague during an ongoing talk and convert it to conferencing
- To fetch data from the CRM and have details of the customer right in front of your eyes
- To record conversations for proof and for improvements
- To handle more than one customer and do it quickly and efficiently without working up a sweat
- To let customers find the right person to talk with through the skill mapping feature.
It is a challenging time but these tips should help you rise to the challenge and deliver delight to each customer.
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