Call centre agents are increasingly becoming the first and only point of contact that customers are having with businesses. Therefore, it’s understandable that any negative call centre experiences can be enough for clients to choose not pursue business with you.

If companies wish to attract loyal customers, they need to ensure their call centres operate in a professional manner, and abide by the following essential tips for call etiquette.

1) Be Courteous Towards the Customer

Every single time the phone rings, agents should ensure to treat each individual caller with courtesy. This involves speaking with enthusiasm and remaining friendly and polite throughout the call. Agents should ask how the customer prefers to be addressed and take care to use this name throughout the call.

2) Maintain Professionalism

Call centre agents should maintain a high level of professionalism from the moment they pick up the phone until the second they put it back down. They represent the company and should therefore be adequately trained to uphold standards set by the business. Maintaining a professional approach to customer interaction ensures that the business is represented in the positive light you set out for it to be.

3) Take an Interest

It is vital that agents take a genuine interest in the customer’s reasons for the call, whether that be specific questions or general concerns. This benefits both the agent and the caller, as the process becomes less mundane if interest is actually being taken. Through the build up of an effective rapport agents can show levels of empathy with callers, overall improving customer satisfaction. Agents should establish a shared goal with the customer that they aim to meet by the end of the call. Developing such interest in the customer will reassure them that your company cares about them and appreciates their business.

4) Never Interrupt. EVER.

For call centres which focus on customer support, the odds are that agents listen to large numbers of complaints each day. Though it may seem tricky at times, it is crucial that agents listen to the entire problem – no matter how long that may take! Though there will be times when call agents have to transfer the call to another member of staff, it is vital they first listen to the whole story without interjecting. The simple act of listening will help the customer feel like their issue actually matters and you’re hearing what they are saying and will do everything you can to resolve their specific issues.

5) Learn How to Handle Frustrated Customers

A huge test for call centre etiquette is the handling of angry customers. The last thing an angry customer wants to be told is to “calm down” or “relax”. Doing either of these things is likely to escalate the situation in which your customer is already unhappy.

The key to handling such phone calls is empathy – reassure the customer and let them know you understand how they are feeling right now and that you are going to do everything you can to rectify the situation. Once the customer begins to feel heard and understood they’ll know you’re their advocate and prepared to resolve their issues in every way you can. After diffusing the situation, agents must ensure they are thorough in explaining exactly how they will resolve the customer’s concerns and over what timeframe. Simple things such a brief email outlining what the issue being faced was and what appropriate action you have taken following the call can reassure the customer that the call was worth their while. Businesses which close customer complaints without solving their issues are suffering from very lower scores of customer satisfaction.