A call center retention rate, by and large, highlights the level of expertise for a given call center as customer service is in the literal sense, the one very thing that any call center is supposed to excel in. Customer retention is a delicate feat attained only if a call center has achieved excellence in customer relations and the customer service agents are really in tune with the needs of their customers. There has to be a committed, consistent and continuous plan to evolve with the dynamic needs of the customers.

There is a direct relation between a call center retention rate and the revenue, as keeping existing customers is significantly cheaper than acquiring new ones. In some studies, it has been quoted as up to 8 times cheaper. It is therefore imperative that all call centers look at customer retention as an integral part in the achievement of business goals, in other words, a make or break.

The two leading reasons that lead to customer churn for any business are:

1.   Long customer complaint resolution times. Any customer, yourself included, would definitely have thoughts of looking for a different organization to spend your hard-earned money on, if the current service provider takes an unreasonably long time to solve a need that you have. When someone decides to take the action of calling a customer service agent, then this means that they need assurance that it will be handled with the urgency that they feel it deserves and that their matter is important as they are a valued customer in that organization. Having long customer complaint resolution times does not portray that picture.

2.   Inferior customer care service. Training is an absolute priority for any call center that is serious about retention. Everyone knows that a customer service agent’s job is exhausting and tiring, but customers don’t need to feel this during their interactions with the agents. When agents have insufficient training, then the quality of the calls is severely compromised. They’ll start to miss out on important information that they need to mention to the customers, they may also start to rush customers or speak in a way that lets customers believe that they are irritating the agents. When these feelings are invoked in a customer, the next inevitable step is to shop for another service provider that will give them the quality service that they believe they deserve.

To avoid falling into this never-ending pitfall of expanding resources to acquire new customers and losing them after a short while, here are some practices that you can employ in your call center to make call center retention your best business strategy yet.

Call Center Retention Practices

Apply Common Courtesy, Apologize and Say Thank You.

When a customer calls upset and narrates their experience of receiving less than satisfactory customer service and makes clear their intention to leave, it is at this point that the agent must be most prepared to apply their emotional intelligence and practice empathy at an exceedingly high level.

Regardless of the frame of mind that the customer has arrived in, whether angry and ready for an argument or otherwise, the agent must be willing to listen attentively to all the complaints that the customer has. When an agent is able to apply reflective listening, they are then better placed to know how to manage the call from that unhappy client. They should acknowledge all the pain points as highlighted by the customer and it is at this point that they employ the cheapest solution on earth that has been proven time and time again to yield positive results. They apologize. Saying sorry makes the customer feel heard, and in a significant number of instances, this action has caused a change of heart among customers and made them revert on their earlier decision to leave.

When an agent has done steps one and two effectively but has realized that the customer is adamant in leaving, this is when the agent needs to apply their emotional intelligence and acknowledge that you can’t always win them. At this juncture, the agent should then thank the customer for having been with them for the journey that they have been through together and offer best wishes for where next they have chosen to go. It is also important that they remind the customers that they would be more than willing to take up the position of being their service provider again, should they be unsatisfied with the quality that they will get, all this of course with a promise of improvement on all the areas that the client had insisted on.

This practice ensures that being the last call, the agent utilizes this chance to attempt to reverse the decision with excellent customer service skills, and should they be unable to, then the last imprint that is left with the customer is a positive one.

Make Voice Channels the Medium for Cancellations

When a customer wants to leave and end their business relationship with you, design the process in such a way that there is a human element involved in the process. Automating cancellations and making it easy by allowing them to either send a text or an email leaves a call center at a disadvantage because there was never an opportunity available to try and change their mind.

Non-voice channels feel impersonal and promote a lack of connectedness. When cancellations are directed to voice channels, then there gets to be a real conversation about what went wrong thus allowing for explanations to occur for any misunderstandings or shortcomings.

Implement KYC (Know Your Customer) and Anticipate Their Needs

When a call center is able to have a thorough and detailed understanding of their customers through the creation of their profiles, they are able to prepare themselves to tackle the occurrence when a customer indicates signs of wanting to leave.

The intimate understanding of the customer in an optimized call center with integrated data from all customer touchpoints, arms a customer representative with options and solutions that they can readily offer to the customer to get them to reconsider.

What this shows to the customer is that they are at home and that they will receive personalized service because the customer service agent has such a thorough understanding of their needs that it would be difficult to get another service provider that would be able to serve them in such a manner in the near future.

The goal here is to get them to realize how easy it is to work with you and that even in instances when there may arise disagreements or a need of tweak things a little bit, that you will already have prior insights on what they may require and that whatever the change may be, it will be seamless.

Insist on Continuous and Consistent Training

Superior training is the sure way of retaining customers within any given call center. In an instance where a customer calls and is certain that they want to unsubscribe from the service, only a really well-trained agent is in a position to highlight all the benefits that they’re currently receiving and are likely to miss out once they unsubscribe from the service. Training equips an agent to turn negative sentiments into positive ones.

This same training enables them to maintain a tonal variation that makes the customers feel comfortable to talk about their unmet needs or a change in their status that necessitates a need to unsubscribe. When a customer speaks to an agent that is well versed in their area of expertise, then their confidence in the organization is boosted and this is guaranteed to buy time to make the necessary amendments that will see the customer staying for the long haul.

Prioritize Proactive Solution Based Campaigns

In a call center setting, more often than not, it is possible to predict when there may be a lag in the provision of a particular service, and it is pertinent that such a matter be nipped in the bud. Rather than wait for customers to call expressing their disappointment and anger on an undelivered promise, it is better to take precautionary measures and initiate an outbound campaign where the customer service agents prepare the customers well in advance for the inevitable.

This keeps the customers aware, manages expectations, and reduces the possibility of having a mass of canceled subscriptions. As the saying goes, prevention is always better than cure.

Implement a Customer Feedback System

Feedback facilitates growth. Design your call center to prioritize receiving feedback from unsatisfied customers. The information gathered will help you pinpoint the areas that require major improvements and eliminate the loss of customers through the same ways again. In addition to that, word of mouth really spreads fast, and a customer that is unsatisfied and goes away feeling that the organization did not care enough to find out why they were leaving in the first place, is sure to convince many more on why you shouldn’t be their preferred partner.

These six practices on call center retention are really foolproof. They cover all bases and will have you smiling all the way to the bank if you implement them effectively.