The following is an excerpt from Part 1 of the new ‘Predictable Revenue Guide to Tripling Your Sales‘:
Frustrated customer support agents help create frustrated customers
Customer support (like sales or sales prospecting) doesn’t have to be a burnout, boiler-room job. Why are the two teams that interact with customers the most (sales, support) so commonly mistreated or unappreciated? That needs to change, since frustrated agents (and salespeople) help create frustrated customers.
(part of the $1 billion / 4,000 employee global Topcon Corp.) is the world’s largest developer & manufacturer of…yes, positioning systems. Topcon’s customers are in industries like civil engineering, surveying & agriculture – where mapping & positioning are vital. Topcon has contact centers around the world.
Angie Todd (pictured) supervises the 18 US agents in Columbus, Ohio and in Olathe, Kansas. Angie’s spent four years as a support agent and four years as a supervisor.
The team handles 25,000 calls per year, which are all recorded and reported on. Angie says their goal is to provide predictably excellent service.
Topcon customer support’s two main applications
It wasn’t that long ago that the support team at Topcon used binders and paper to track cases and manage the team. Needing better documentation and accountability/metrics, Topcon implemented:
a) Salesforce for its global case management system, and
b) NewVoiceMedia’s ContactWorld solution (the #1-rated call center app on Salesforce’s AppExchange) for telephony: call routing, recording and reporting.
Angie’s expert advice – five tips
1. Get agents away from the phone
Spending 40 hours a week on the phone and interacting directly with frustrated customers can be a recipe for agent burnout.
Get agents away from their desks regularly for product cross-training and to visit customers at their locations.
This will keep agents interested, fresher, and engaged. It will help develop more experienced and confident agents with better attitudes and a skilled ability to help customers, increasing first-call resolution rates.
In the past few years, it’s finally easy with internet-based call center/telephony applications (like NewVoiceMedia) to route calls to any agents’ phone (mobile phones, home phones, etc). Now agents don’t have to be chained to desks, making the job friendlier and more flexible for them.
2. Use technology to help customers as well as yourself
Don’t forget that technology is also about improving the experience for customers as well as reducing your costs.
More than half of your callers (53%) get irritated if they can’t speak to a human quickly.
The last time you called a bank – how many times did you have to enter your credit card or account number before you got to the right person?
When a customer calls Topcon, NewVoiceMedia compares the phone number against data in Salesforce and can automatically route that person to the right agent. The customer doesn’t have to type anything.
For example, if in Salesforce they are marked as a ‘Gold’ level client with the best Service Level Agreement, that caller can be automatically bumped to the front of the phone line.
3. Continuously listen to feedback
In most organizations, the Customer Support group interacts with the customer the most.
Unfortunately, some organizations overlook the support team and all that valuable knowledge. The support team is the voice of the customer.
4. Create a career path
Your best employees won’t want to stay in the same job their whole lives, they’ll want to grow.
At Topcon, agents know they will spend 2-4 years in support, learning everything about Topcon and its products, as a first step in their career path.
If you hire right, you can use support as a great training experience that develops experts to later transfer or promote throughout the rest of your company.
5. Specialize agent roles
Topcon has five ‘first level’ agents with a basic understanding of all products; and 13 other agents that specialize in an application or industry.
With a variety of support specialists, customers can get better service and it creates different opportunities for reps to grow within support.
Aaron Ross is founder of PredictableRevenue.com and author of the award-winning, #1 Amazon bestseller, ‘Predictable Revenue’. NewVoiceMedia is offering readers a free version of Ross’s new release – ‘Predictable Revenue Guide to Tripling Your Sales’. Written by Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin, the e-book shares how businesses can increase revenue with sales technology like NewVoiceMedia’s ContactWorld solutions, which shorten the sales cycle and personalize the customer experience to avoid customer churn and increase upsells and referrals.Download your copy of Aaron's e-book here Read the Topcon case study.