We live in the age of instant gratification and ever-shortening attention spans – the “culture of impatience”. When so many customers – 58% according to a Microsoft survey – are more than willing to sever a relationship with a business due to poor customer service, can your organization afford to be one of them?

To improve your contact center’s reputation as a reliable, efficient service provider, you need to stop irritating your customers. Here are 5 ways that show you how.

1. Keep Your IVR and Hold Times Short

IVR systems can be a life-saver for busy contact centers, taking care of those requests where human inputs are not required, and managing incoming calls until a live agent can be allocated. But along IVR that provides needless information or forces customers to go through complicated prompts will only end up annoying them.

Another major irritant for many customers is long hold times. When a customer calls in, they expect to have a quick resolution to their issue. Putting them on hold, especially with generic “canned” music, frustrates them. Do it enough times and they will spread their anger to other customers on social media.

So if you don’t want to end up on social media as the contact center pariah, keep your recordings concise and articulate. Don’t make them listen through meaningless blurbs or worse, transfer them across multiple departments. Also, keep your hold times down to two minutes or less. If all your agents are busy or if a technical problem has cropped up, inform them right at the beginning so they can decide whether to hold or disconnect.

2. Make Escalations Easy

If a customer requests to speak to a supervisor or manager, they usually have a good reason to do so. But even if they don’t (according to you), you must still find a way to make the escalation process seamless and grief-free – for them. Don’t irritate them by making them repeat their grievance to multiple people before they finally talk to a supervisor.

Give them the security of knowing that if they need extra help, it is readily available. Having a tool like the Cisco Finesse Supervisor Desktop from NovelVox can go a long way towards making this happen. With this tool, managers can drop in on live calls, assist agents with the next actionable, and even alter the agent’s state to reduce customer hold/wait times. With powerful pre-built gadgets for ticketing, customer management, and more, supervisors can support agents in delivering consistently excellent customer service.

Of course, a good way to keep escalations down is to use a Call Center Agent Scripting Tool from NovelVox. This software can assist agents at every step of customer support so they can even improve service delivery, enhance FCR, and save on call escalations.

3. Make Sure Agents Have Relevant Customer Information At All Times

People call into a contact center for answers. But if the agent is not equipped with the necessary information, not only will they not help the customer, they will end up irritating, alienating, or worse, losing them forever. And asking the customer to repeat information because the agent doesn’t have access to it, will only make matters worse. That’s why it’s critical that agents have all the necessary information to help the customer. For the contact center (and the agent), information can also mean higher CSAT, and lower AHT and FCR.

The unified agent desktop from NovelVox gives agents access to caller information from multiple applications on a single screen. Since they don’t waste time switching screens to find the necessary information, their interactions improve and they can provide meaningful customer experiences. A CTI connector is another useful way to leverage data so agents can have more productive – and less irritating – customer conversations. NovelVox offers NextGen Cisco Finesse, Genesys, and Avaya Embedded CTI Connectors for Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, ServiceNow, Zendesk, and more.

4. Balance Data Security with Customer Privacy

The modern threat landscape is not to be sniffed at. When bad actors abound, trying to steal your organization’s – and your customers’ – data, you need to take steps to protect this data. However, bombarding your callers with excessive and intrusive security questions to confirm their identity is not the way to do this. For a customer, having to answer a bunch of questions that seem irrelevant at best and invasive at worst is extremely irritating, especially if it prevents them from proceeding to the actual point of their call.

Unless your contact center is required by law to ask numerous security questions, identify a few questions that can help your agents confirm callers’ identities quickly and proceed to the call itself. This will spare your callers a lot of grief and improve your agents’ AHT and FCR metrics.

5. Avoid Using These Phrases

Certain phrases that irritate customers are still alarmingly common in many contact centers. Some of these phrases are ineffective, while others are downright offensive. Either way, no-no phrases include:

  • “Calm down”
  • “I’m going on a break” (or “I’m going home”)
  • “We don’t deal with X product/service”
  • “I’m new here”
  • “Stop shouting or I’ll disconnect this call”
  • “I don’t know”
  • “Let me put you on hold”
  • “Sorry but it’s company policy”

Even clichéd or overused phrases like “If I were you”, “at the end of the day” and “not a problem” end up irritating customers, because they’re looking for solutions to their problems, not pat phrases that mean (next to) nothing.

Once again, a call center script can help guide agents on both what to say and what not to say. To avoid potential aggravation, make sure that your script is composed so that each question leads naturally on to the next without annoying clichés or rude-sounding phrases.

It’s also important to ensure that your agents are culturally-aware if they talk to customers in a different country, so they don’t inadvertently say something that may be misconstrued as unhelpful, rude, or insulting.

A Few More Ways To Stop Irritating Your Customers

Contact center customers can be a fickle lot, and there are many more ways than they can get seriously annoyed. So if you want to avoid irritating them and keep them on-board for longer, keep these additional ideas in mind:

  • Reassure unhappy or worried customers with warm phrases and the “human touch”
  • Be both free and genuine with apologies and gratitude
  • Cross-selling or upselling is fine – as long as the offer is not irrelevant, or the agent is not over-persistent
  • Don’t interrupt callers, no matter how long they’ve been speaking (or shouting) for
  • Mechanized agents and IVRs are useful, but only up to a point. Don’t minimize empathetic human interaction
  • Follow up on promises to call customers back

Wrap up

Unfortunately, the list of ways in which customers can get irritated with contact centers is not brief. However, since contact centers are customer-facing departments, it is incumbent upon them to find ways to serve their customers without irritating them. To this end, it’s worthwhile to invest in resources and technologies that can help eliminate the 5 pet peeves we have discussed in this article. For more information, contact NovelVox today.