Customer Service Training
Impact Factory was approached by Dragonfly TV who is in the process of filming a four part series for Channel 4 called Serving the Nation.
The series will focus on customer service with an emphasis on people who complain, especially to local authorities and transport and energy companies
One episode centres on the impact and power of social media in today’s instant message world.
Dragonfly asked us to work with them to offer customer service training to a call centre, probably the most vilified of all customer service avenues. New Call Telecom in Burnley was the company chosen and they have an interesting story in their own right.
New Call’s CEO Nigel Eastwood, having organised a management buy-out a few years ago decided to move the contact centre back to Burnley from Mumbai.
Nigel felt very strong ties with his home town of Burnley and wanted to actively give something back to the economy of the community.
So he upped stakes and moved the contact centre back to Burnley, creating many more jobs (nearly 200 employees now), establishing an apprentice programme and getting involved in local community activities.
New Call is typical of many contact centres we work with: hugely skilled people, professional, committed, articulate and genuinely caring about their customers.
Yet, like many (if not most) call centres, the human face of the agents on the other end of the phone isn’t positioned front and centre.
In our experience, agents want so much to do things well that they forget that their own unique qualities are what can make the difference between an irate customer who escalates their complaint to one who feels listened to and understood.
Sarah Dawrant and I were privileged to work with a terrific cross-section of agents and departments from managers to apprentices, from credit control to the tech department.
And what a great lot they were: even with the intrusion of the director/cameraman and the sound man, they were open, honest about what they encounter day in and day out and genuine in their desire to learn something new.
Anyone who is a chronic complainer or a complainer who loses their temper regularly should be a call centre agent for even the briefest time.
These agents, like agents in all call centres, are on the receiving end of a barrage of rage, frustration, impatience and even death threats, and are expected to rise about it all, be continuously polite and of course strive to give the customer what he/she wants.
Which, quite frankly, is simply not possible all of the time.
We often say at Impact Factory that we wish we could run Customer Complaining training to teach those who complain how to do it better - because most people don’t.
Our training with New Call was geared to make small tweaks to the considerable skills these agents already had.
This included learning small ways to establish empathy while at the same time stripping out the padding that stopped them being more direct and getting to the point.
They learned the power of the pause and to take some of the formality out of their spoken and written language.
In addition, we looked at ways of delivering a technical message without overwhelming the customer with jargon (a sure-fire way for customers to think they’re being fobbed off) and matching their message with the competency level of each inpidual customer.
We also looked at the ‘Art of Saying No’ especially for those with internal customers.
This looked at ways of setting clear boundaries without disappointing the other person.
We ended the day by torturing the agents with praise, having their colleagues tell each of them in turn what makes them special.
Although there was much squirming and embarrassment, receiving sincere compliments is the best way to acknowledge a day of hard but rewarding work.
The director said to me at one point, “Some of this stuff is really profound, isn’t it?” and at the end of the day the Contact Centre Manager said, “They all loved it!”
We look forward to seeing the final result of Serving the Nation later in the year, but in the meantime Sarah and I have had a joyful experience working with New Call’s very special group of agents.
If you would like to talk to us about
or any of the other
work we do, call us on
+44 (0)20 7226 1877
or e-mail us at
Customer Service Training
Freephone: 0808 1234 909
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