Improving Customer Experience and Call Center Time Management with Call Path Control

Judy McKee

Countless call center dollars can be saved every year if call center representatives learn to control the path of the conversation with the customer. In your training sessions, you can teach the call center representatives special call control and discovery techniques. These skills will enable the call center representatives to avoid dead air after a presentation or having to listen to long winded customers with time consuming descriptions of problems in order to handle customer service request call.

The ability to control the path of a call will:

  • Yield clearer and more concise two-way communication
  • It will shorten the length of time necessary to serve customer’s needs
  • Provide a natural lead in to up-sell and cross-sell opportunities

Teach Your Call Center Representatives Call Path Control

In customer service, the call center representative’s job is to quickly determine the customer’s need and take the appropriate actions to solve a problem or fulfill a call center request. In sales, the call center representative’s job is to gently discover the prospect’s needs or wants. The information gained from the discovery process becomes the framework around which the call center representative can build a sales presentation targeted to fulfill the specific need rather than pitching everything the company has, hoping something will catch the prospects attention.

Teach Call Path Control First

If you are designing a customer service or call center sales presentation training course, here are some simple and easy to follow guidelines for teaching Call Path Control.

1. Remind your call center trainees that the person who is asking the questions is the person in control.

This means control the path of the conversation and never control the customer. The first goal of the conversational consultative selling is to provide a way to ask the right questions without offending the customer and still keep control of where this telephone call is going. This means that the sales person or customer service agent is the one who should ask the most questions.

In the call center where the focus is on Customer Service the call center representatives have a tendency to respond to the customer only—leaving dead air, and having no control. The second important goal of the conversational consultative selling process is to be sure that the question you ask is worthy of the customer, the call center representative and the company’s mission.

2. Write questions that are intelligent and have the customer’s needs in mind.

All questions must be written in a way that make the customer "feel" right to respond to them. The call center representatives want to establish a relationship with the prospective customer or keep a relationship with a present customer for the long term. Make sure your questions have no hint of sarcasm or insult. Questions that insult, like "You would like to save money wouldn’t you?", can seriously damage the life time relationship with the prospective customer. This type of question always irritates the customer and sounds like it came right out of the "'50s, '60s, or '70s" sales training.

The intelligence gathering process needs to be performed with intelligence, and that means design discovery questions to fit what you already know or can find out about the prospect's plans, needs or desires. After you find out what's needed or wanted, don't be afraid to let the prospect know what you can do to support that need. Ask: "Mr. Jones, Since you need xxxx , and we have excellent products to fill that need. Shall we send it right out to you?"

3. Call center representatives should soften every question with a statement of interest or information in front of it.

Give the customer time to think and prepare a response to your next question. Create a "safe" environment with your questions. Make sure the trainee understands that the requirement is to control the path of the call and not control or manipulate the customer. If you will soften the question with a phrase or sentence in front of the question it does several "good things." First it gives the prospective customer time to prepare the answer to the question. Second the statement can be used to show interest in the subject the customer wants to talk about.

Example: When the call center representatives want to know if the customer can afford the price of the product.

Don't say: We can now get you that product reduced for $199 to $179. (No question) Assuming the customer will jump at this chance. Or "Would you like to save $20?" Or "How would you like to save money on the last price we offered you?"

Call center representatives should say, "Mr. Jones, you had shown some interest the last time we spoke and the price at that time was $199. We have a new version of that same product that has been reduced to $179 saving $20 from the older model, would that price range work better for you?"

Teach What You Need to Learn—Practice What You Teach

When you want to train others to control the path of the call you will need to learn to do it yourself. The rewards for you will be you will have better control of the path of the training and the bigger reward will be when the call center representatives you train have much higher results. This will make you feel very good because you taught the call center representatives a communication skill that will work in all of their lives.

First published on Call Center IQ.