Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Opinion - Avoiding the Clichéd Call Close

Is there anything else I can help you with today?
Is this a professional, polite way to end a conversation or an unnecessarily scripted way to close the call?

This question is now common place within many telephone centres and there is no doubt that it is used with the best of intentions but feedback also suggests that some customers find this to be an irritation at the end of a call.

The danger is that it can become a clichéd comment which lacks sincerity.

Let us consider two examples from non telephone service situations.

When you buy your cheese burger do you think the member of staff serving genuinely cares if you;
"Enjoy your meal"?
You can walk into a well known food store, pick up your sandwich, head for the till and be delighted to see that there are no other customers waiting.  Yet the first thing the cashier says is; "Sorry to have kept you waiting".

Is there any real value in apologising to a customer for keeping them waiting when in fact they have not been kept waiting at all? 

These examples do not show an individual's customer care skills they simply show an ability to follow a script.  To a customer this will often sound robotic and lack sincerity.

These types of statement are often added to a company's quality standards on of the advice of consultants like ourselves or in response to customer feedback exercises such as mystery shopper / caller programmes.

The secret to success is understanding how to use these points appropriately.  A tick in the box from the mystery shopper is useless if this turns out to be counterproductive from the perspective of your real customers.

So let's go back to our original question:
Is there anything else I can help you with today?
On the plus side it signposts the end of the call and prompts the customer to think about other questions.  It also ensures that she / he does not feel rushed off the call.

On the negative side it can sound scripted and it will annoy some callers who want to end the call quickly.  Perhaps the most important factor to consider is that in most cases the customer's answer to the question is; no.

- Try to be selective with this question and avoid asking it at the end of every call.

- The question should definitely be used if customers have encountered long waiting times to get through to your centre.

- The question should not be used in a complaint situation where is the issue remains unresolved.

- Encourage your staff to impose their own personality / words when asking this question and vary this from call to call. 

- Consider the effective use of silence as an alternative.  A pause towards the end of the call gives the customer thinking time and allows the operator decide if it is appropriate to ask the question.

These are of course general tips, if you would like a view on the relevance to your particular calls email me directly kevinb@tctc.co.uk