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Overseas Call Centre Customer Service Training
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With many large organisations deciding to move some of their operations overseas to cut costs having the right call centre customer service training in place should be a priority. However, many companies do not seem to appreciate the frustration that their customers feel when dealing with overseas call centres. In 2010 The Institute of Customer Service reported that 17.5% of 26,000 people surveyed chose as their number one option as Dealing with staff outside the UK ‘ as their biggest frustration, when they had to contact a call centre. These figures show that there is considerable disquiet by some of the respondents about their experiences and yet so many organisations seem reluctant or complacent about how to address these problems.

I’m sure that all organisations would say that their customers are at the heart of everything they do and that they regularly invest in specific call centre customer service training for their staff, but it needs to be the right type of training. In recent years to save time and provide consistency of practice staff have generally been trained to work to set scripts. The problem with using rigid scripts is that when the customer doesn’t respond in the expected way, the staff are generally not allowed to deviate, so they infuriate the customer by parroting inadequate company sound bites. Even if staff are allowed to use a little of their own initiative, the majority do not have the skills to adequately respond to the customers. Standard call centre customer service training just isn’t adequate.

It’s not just scripts that are a problem or the lack of initiative, there are other issues that cause frustration amongst customers. A common practice is to use an inappropriate mode of address, either overly familiar eg calling customers by their first name without permission or too formal and calling the customers’ sir or ‘ma’am’. Inappropriate use of language is also common eg when the call centre staff say “Wonderful” to every response the customer makes to questions. Unacceptable behaviour such as putting the phones down because they don’t understand what customers are saying.

It’s well known that it’s much easier to retain existing customers than it is to find new ones. Call centre customer service training needs to be re-evaluated, not just to include some of the core skills that you would expect in training, but it also needs to include cross-cultural language skills, active listening and concept checking , understanding of cultural differences and mixing and matching of tone and pace.

Although in the current economic climate organisations large and small might be tempted to put training on hold this does not make economic sense. All organisations who have call centres as part of their business should invest in the very best call centre customer service training available for their staff. Having staff trained with the highest levels of language and cross-cultural skills will bring real benefits to an organisation including raised levels of customer satisfaction, increased repeat business, new business due to word of mouth recommendation and reduced costs on call times.


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