What Really Goes on When You Call Customer Service?

Lauren Krause
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Calling customer service can be a positive experience or a lengthy and annoying process. Taking a look at what goes on behind the scenes can help you understand what goes into creating a productive call. Here is a basic outline of the process.

When someone first calls customer service, he is typically greeted by a computer voice and an automatic menu. The customer is required to answer questions by speaking or by pushing buttons. The company's answering program then directs the call to the right department depending on the customer's needs.

If the person calling is not a current customer, he is immediately directed to sales. These calls are usually answered the fastest, and the rep on the other end has been trained in selling and upselling to new clients. Unfortunately, if an existing customer indicates that he is a new customer in order to get his call answered faster, this tactic is likely to backfire as the rep for new clients normally needs to transfer existing clients to other departments.

Some of the departments that may answer questions of existing clients include billing, repair and technical issues and general concerns. Departments vary based on the type of company being called. For example, banks and credit card companies usually have a department devoted to theft and fraud, while telecom companies usually don't have that option on their main menu.

After explaining to the automated system why they are calling, customers are transferred to a rep who has been trained to answer their calls. Customer service reps are trained to answer clients' questions and concerns and help them sign up for new services or cancel existing services. They are also trained in how to deal with clients who are upset and angry.

When clients are unhappy, reps may "escalate" the call to upper management. The management team usually has additional training or the ability to grant special requests for clients. Similarly, if a customer threatens to leave the company, close his account or cancel his service, the customer service rep may transfer that person to a retention professional. Using special offers combined with sales techniques, these professionals attempt to save the relationship with these clients.

In many cases, customer service calls are recorded or monitored for quality. At some companies, these calls are manually monitored by members of a management or quality control team. In other cases, these calls are monitored by complex computer software. This software is trained to listen in on calls and make suggestions to the reps about what to say, what to offer and when to transfer the call.

Ideally, customer service should make you feel respected and taken care of, and the rep on the other end of the phone should be able to address your concerns. However, there is a complicated support network in most call centers. If the automated system, the customer service training program, the management team and the quality control are not firmly in place, your call may not go as smoothly as desired.


Photo courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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