What makes a good call centre?

Call centres: maybe you’re thinking of using one to benefit your business, or perhaps you’re one of the millions of customers who call one every day. Either way you’ll know from experience what makes a successful call centre. Here are some of the principles we use at Sage when you call our Sage Support Team.

When call centres go bad

Bad call centre experiences have become a cliché of our times. It seems that for many companies, if it can go wrong, it will. Callers complain of long waiting times, endless transfers to different departments in different countries, convoluted menu choices, ill-informed advisors and technical issues. In recent years, those calling contact centres for information, advice and support have discovered a brand new tool to fight bad service: social media. Bloggers, tweeters and furious Facebook users have all vented their fury online, in the most public way possible. All the more reason then, to get it right.

Here at Sage we try to do things differently, which is why we were so pleased to receive last year’s North East Contact Centre award. (Shameless plug alert: We’re shortlisted in the European Contact Centre Awards. If you think we deserve to win, please vote for us!)

Sage Support Team

Howay the toon

Contacting our call centre is one of the many ways that our SageCover customers can get support from us with their software and running their business. If you’ve ever called us you’ll have spotted that we’re based in Newcastle, the home of Sage. Last year, a study by Sitel, a global outsourcing call centre provider, named the Geordie accent as the UK’s most friendly and most likely to put you in a ‘good mood.’ Even more significantly, Geordie was one of five top accents in the categories of helpfulness, efficiency and trustworthiness. But we like to think our customer service is more to do with what we say than how we say it, so what else makes a successful call centre?

1. Be friendly. It’s amazing how a positive attitude can set the tone for an entire conversation, as well as its outcome.

2. Pay attention. The importance of listening can’t be overstressed. By listening to our customers’ exact queries, asking questions if we’re unclear and clarifying their requests, we keep communications clear and productive.

3. Never stop learning. Our first priority for our Sage Support Team is to know our products and services inside out; and that’s why when they start at Sage they sign up to 6 months of training. Our products and services are constantly evolving as the business world changes.  For example, our people have just been training on the lastest version of Sage 50 Accounts 2012 and it’s mobile app. After all, it’s no good to release a new product and not have the support in place to help customers should they need it!

4. Be clear and easy to understand: When you’ve providing support for business software it would be all too easy to get carried away with bewildering jargon. Don’t, no one will thank you for giving garbled explanations. Once we’ve established how an issue can be solved, we talk our callers through what we plan to do, step-by-step.

5. Give a bit extra. At the end of a call we double-check that the caller is satisfied with our response. Do they require additional information to be emailed through to them? Can we direct them to anything specific on our website? Is there anything else we can do to help them use our products and services to their best advantage?

For us, how customer calls are handled is part of a larger overall commitment to outstanding customer service, a keystone of our philosophy.  Our customers are our business so it makes sense to look after them. That’s why, anytime you have a question, a technical enquiry, or just an idea for how we might improve things, we’d really love it if you gave us a call.

Sarah Woods, Small Business Team