There is a common misconception that the rise of the Internet, social media, live chat software, and text messaging mean the phone call is slowly dying. The truth is phone calls account for 68% of all customer communications which means properly training representatives is still a critical aspect of your business success.
Some businesses struggle to keep up with the rising number of electronic requests and customers suffer from longer wait times. That is why phone calls continue to be a front-runner in how customers contact businesses. Customers want answers now, and social media, live chat, and text messaging communication don’t always allow for that. Phone calls give customers the chance to talk to a live person and get their concerns resolved immediately.
Dead Air is Deadly
What happens when a customer contacts your business expecting answers and the only thing they hear is silence. Long moments of silence or dead air can be deadly to your customer relationships and credibility. Thirty seconds doesn’t sound like a lot, but to your customer, it’s too long. In that time, the customer’s confidence in your business quickly fizzles leaving them unsatisfied.
Many times, call representatives don’t even realize there is silence because they are engrossed in their screen trying to find a solution. The difference between the representative and customer is that one knows what is happening and the other doesn’t.
Speech Analytics Software
Often, business owners and managers don’t realize they have a problem with silence on customer service calls. The best way to pinpoint if this is a problem and where it is happening and why, is with speech analytics software.
Speech analytics software captures call information and data from 100% of your phone calls. It transcribes all of the details into a searchable database. Businesses set categories and tags so that they can easily search for certain words, the tone of voice, and silent pauses. Once you are actively using a speech analytics solution, you will be able to identify if silence is a problem you need to fix.
Once you have a speech analytics solution in place, supervisors can review transcripts and recordings at the exact points in the conversation where there is silence. This will uncover the root cause of the silence so that it can be addressed. Speech analytics also analyzes trends across all calls from an agent and all calls from all agents.
Is there a common reason? Is there a certain representative struggling or multiple? How do the customers react to the silence? Use this information to help your representatives provide better service moving forward.
5 Ways to Fix Silence
Here are five common techniques to consider when trying to reduce or eliminate silence on your customer service phone calls.
1. Prompt the customer.
Letting the customer know that there will be a brief moment of silence or hold time keeps them from thinking the representative disappeared. In most cases, customers just want to know you hear them and are working to fix their issue.
2. Use a call-holding feature.
If the call representative needs to complete a task that takes longer than twenty seconds, consider placing the caller on hold. This works especially well if your phone system plays music or pre-recorded messages for those on hold. Hearing something eliminates the awkwardness that comes with complete silence.
3. Provide scripts to representatives.
Create scripts that call center representatives can use to encourage communicating during down times. A list of appropriate small talk questions can help representatives break the ice and build a rapport with customers.
4. Explain what is happening.
Empower representatives to explain what they are doing while the customer is on hold. If they are researching or pulling up a new screen, let them share that. This way the customers know the representative is actively taking steps to solve their problem.
5. Educate call representatives.
The last thing to look at is if your call representatives need more education on products, services, or how to solve customer problems. Provide weekly or monthly training for representatives struggling with certain topics. Giving them the tools they need in the beginning goes a long way in turning upset customers into satisfied customers.
“Silence is the most perfect expression of scorn” according to George Bernard Shaw. There is no truer statement when it comes to customer experience. If customers call wanting answers and hear nothing from the representative, they will take it as a sign of disrespect for their time and their business. When that happens, you lose customers and revenue. Minimizing silence is possible when you know what is causing it. Take a look at your speech analytics data to review, prioritize, and make a plan to get rid of unnecessary silence.