A recent dining experience illustrates that call centers have something to learn from restaurants.
I was dining alone and didn't want to take up a table for just one person, so I sat at the bar. Try as I might, I could not get the bartender's attention. No matter what I did I could not get him to look up from what he was doing to notice me.
After 10 unsuccessful minutes of not making contact I asked to be seated at a table, but I fared no better here. The server in my section kept her eyes on the one table she planned to talk to, never looking around to see who else in her section might need assistance. She would rush out to a table, deliver food and rush back to the kitchen without ever looking around to check on her section. One of the basic rules I followed in my many years of waiting tables: Make every trip onto the dining room floor count. Take a look around to assess the entire area, to see who else needs you, and to anticipate the needs of your customers.
What does this have to do with call center training? Plenty, because much of call center training is too narrowly focused on fulfilling customer requests as the single goal of the call. Reps don't always learn how to open their eyes and ears to other ways to serve their customer; they learn only how to react, address and move on to the next call.
Contrast this with call center training that focuses on understanding the needs of customers. When reps learn to make every customer contact count, they will:
- Listen closely to the customer to better understand the need behind the request.
- Consider ways to add value to the call, such as providing phone numbers, extensions and helpful information.
- Suggest complementary products or increasing the size of an order through cross-selling and up-selling if doing so better serves the customer.
Call center managers should take this advice too: make every trip onto the call center floor an opportunity to listen to conversations, observe the demeanor of the reps and look for coaching opportunities.
Just like restaurant workers, call center staff can provide better service by opening their eyes and ears to the needs of their customers.