Why Call Centers are Important for Your Branding Strategy
By Guy Dilger, VP of Product and Marketing, Plain Green, LLC
For many business leaders, branding means the company logo, website, sales material, direct marketing, social media and online content. Devoting resources and marketing activities in these types of communications is important to creating brand awareness and sales opportunities.
However, it’s not just the company’s marketing that creates a brand. Every touch point in the customer journey becomes part of a buyer’s perception of the company brand.
Call Center as a Brand Experience
One department that may require a portion of the branding budget, but is often overlooked, is the inbound call center or customer service department. For many customers that purchase or signup for services online, the call center is the only human interaction with a company. This is especially true for online and e-commerce companies that don’t have a physical presence.
Consumers and decision-makers are more likely to judge and create an impression of businesses based on the over-the-phone service. That’s the reason it’s crucial for businesses to incorporate their branding into their customer service and call centers.
Major investments are made to support call centers and customer service departments, including telecommunications technology, customer response management software, training and scripts.
But does the call center training include the company’s brand standards and personality? Are the founder’s story and company mission part of the scripts? Can the team easily insert the company’s unique value proposition and point of differentiation for the products and services into customer conversations?
All of these key message points shape the buyer’s brand experience, which ultimately influences customer acquisition, retention, loyalty and lifetime value.
Call Center Agents as Brand Ambassadors
When an insufficiently trained call center or customer service representative focuses more on getting off of a customer call rather than solving the issue, the company takes a hit.
First, the brand is tarnished. That interaction had a greater impact on the customer’s perception than a scheduled message from the company’s CEO.
Second, all of the marketing, product development and innovation were made ineffective because of a frustrated call center agent.
To make matters worse, that unsatisfied or angry customer may choose to post a negative review or rant on social media.
Ensuring your call center and customer service department are properly trained and engaged is the best way to avoid these types of interactions. An engaged call center pays for itself in improved productivity and reduced turnover of customers and employees.
Essential Training Elements
Key elements of the call center training include:
Prospects and customers are calling because they need information or are facing an issue. Some call center agents and customer service representatives mistakenly use a falsely cheery phone voice.
Call center agents and customer service representatives need to be sensitive to the fact that customers may be calling upset or confused.
After the caller explains the reason for the call, the first response is sincere empathy. The tone of the initial interaction should be guided by the company’s brand personality and brand voice.
2. Ease Anxiety
Next, is to ease the caller’s anxiety by reassuring customers that they have called the experts and solution providers.
At this point, the call center agent should consider thanking the customer for calling. It’s far better for the customer to call a company representative with questions or complaints. This communication allows an opportunity for a resolution, rather than seeing a complaint or negative review online.
A calm, confident and reassuring attitude will go a long way in easing communications and clearly understanding the issues.
Once the issue is defined, the call center agent can provide information and guidance for next steps.
Guidelines for various scenarios and scripts with key message points will provide the greatest support for the agent and result in faster resolution.
Some companies may provide check lists, step-by-step instructions, links to the company website and other resources to address their customers’ needs.
4. Enable Follow-up
After the call, a brief online survey or follow-up email is recommended to continue improving the brand experience.
Marketing and sales leaders may consider a follow-up phone call to ensure the issue was resolved and offer an additional customer touch point.
In some cases, business leaders may choose to “mystery shop” their own call center, take customer calls themselves or listen to recorded conversations.
Getting customer feedback and monitoring performance will ensure the call center is part of the brand experience.
Guy Dilger, Vice President of Product and Marketing
With more than 12 years of experience
designing groundbreaking marketing strategies for Fortune 500 companies and financial technology brands, Guy Dilger
is known for generating engaging content and compelling concepts that resonate with targeted consumers. Prior to Plain Green, Dilger held senior positions within fintech and retail spaces, where he managed national marketing campaigns and customer-centric loyalty initiatives for Sears and Kmart. Previously, he was part of the management team at Limited Brands, where his marketing work in support of Express brand included CRM, email, web-based programs and the redesign and relaunch of a private label credit card. Dilger has an MBA, as well as a bachelor of science in economics, from Southern Methodist University.