Not All Call Centres Are Created Equal

Brenda Jones
On: 12 Oct 2017
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Three Care Centre Limerick

Call centres are like insurance policies – you hope you never need to use them, but if you do you want them to be good.

Brenda Jones, Head of Business Care, leads a team of 120 agents based in Three’s award-winning Customer Care Centre in Limerick. Here she reveals what makes a great call centre.

Calling a call centre probably ranks up there with moving house and changing job as one of the more stressful tasks in life. It’s something you only do when you have to. We know our customers aren’t calling because they want to, so we do everything we can to ease the pain of having to call us in the first place and to solve the issue at hand. For businesses, that also makes phone support a great opportunity to surprise and delight your customers, and differentiate your business from your competitors.

The Most Important Factor – the People

Many call centres struggle with a high turnover of staff, which makes it challenging to maintain a high level of knowledge and experience on the team. It’s always been a focus of ours to retain our staff by making sure Three is a great place to work. This knowledge and experience then benefits our customers.

Of course, you wouldn’t expect length of tenure alone to give staff the know-how they need. Comprehensive training at induction and on an ongoing basis is essential. Calls are monitored and regularly checked at random to ensure any gaps in knowledge are caught quickly and the quality of service is maintained. Regular coaching sessions also help to keep teams motivated and up-to-date on the latest technology developments.

It makes a real difference to the call centre experience, when staff are genuinely interested in resolving the customer’s issue rather than just hurrying them off the phone to get another box ticked.

Seeing the Bigger Picture

Never more so has time meant money. Customer service personnel need to be capable of handling queries there-and-then as often as possible. Quick fixes are often not right for the long-term though, so they also need to be knowledgeable enough to advise if a better solution is worth some consideration. For example, whoever answers a call at our Care Centre can pull-up the details of the customer on the screen in front of them, so they can see the kind of technology solutions and plans they have and advise if there are more effective options available. That doesn’t mean they’ll be desperately trying to sell what isn’t needed or that they’ll keep talking when they know how valuable our caller’s time is. It simply means that if they can see a way to prevent an issue arising again, or to save the customer money, time or trouble in the future, they’ll let them know. This proactive approach to customer care is central to our strategy to be a partner to our business customers.

Getting It Right First Time

The primary aim of a call centre should always be to resolve the customer’s immediate issue on the first call. Obviously that is not always achievable. Even knowledgeable front-line staff like ours won’t have an answer for everything that comes to them, so we have equipped them with an effective plan for these scenarios. They can quickly escalate calls to our Technical Support Desk (also based in Limerick) when support and advice is required from a technical expert. If they are unavailable or need more time to find the answer, they’ll get back to you. Either way, we aim to deliver a solution the same day.

After all, who wants to be left listening to Greensleeves while the person on the other end frantically tries to figure out what to do with you!

Although we believe we’re doing a great job, we understand that calling a call centre is never going to be the highlight of our customer’s day. We’re happy if we manage to make them feel less stressed, happier, and perhaps even financially better off when they put the phone down than when they picked it up. That’s when our job is done and they can get back to theirs.