Recently, when experiencing a cable outage, I was transferred to no fewer than five departments, which all claimed the issue was the provenance of another department. I’d spent over an hour on the phone but needed my Internet back, so calling back wasn’t an option. Frankly, I didn’t care who I talked to as long as someone could help me or point me in the right direction. Finally, as the fifth rep was about to transfer me back to the first department, I calmly explained the situation and asked if there was any way she could help me. After a short hold and a couple of questions, that employee’s willingness to take ownership solved the problem and eased an otherwise excruciating customer service experience. Here’s how to avoid the “you’re talking to the wrong employee” trap and empower your customer service team to work together to solve customer problems.
Break down the silo: Does your customer service team have individual smaller teams that are trained on very specific issues? If so, you’re not alone. Many companies choose this model, and it has its benefits. A customer service rep who knows the ins and outs of a specific product is able to cut down the time of calls regarding that product. However, a cross-trained team that understands the full range of your company’s products is more likely to be able to resolve any issue to a customer’s satisfaction.
Embrace the assisted transfer: In certain cases, a transfer may be unavoidable. In these situations, companies that use the “assisted transfer” may be in the best position to solve customer concerns. With an assisted transfer, the rep that the customer is talking to gets the right person on the line, explains the situation, and then hands the customer over. While there are delays, which can still be frustrating, the rep can pick up where their colleague left off and, hopefully, solve the customer service challenge as quickly as possible.
Don’t point fingers: No employee of your company should speak negatively of another. Constantly transferring customers or having fault lines in your service department can lead to finger pointing. It’s embarrassing, bad for your brand, and leaves customers feeling further adrift. Create an environment where customer service reps emphasize that they own problems and work them through to the end to resolve them. Also, train customers to speak in terms of “we” when discussing the brand, to give customers a more unified experience of dealing with the company.
Audit your company’s customer service logs, and look at how often customers are being transferred. Find ways to reduce that number by cross-training your team, empowering your reps with a sense of ownership, and having a clear policy in place for when a transfer must occur. The more integrated your customer service team feels and the more they present a unified image, the better experience customers will have with your company.