Customer Service Etiquette: 15 Best Practices To Consider When Outsourcing

Elevate business success with CCaaS for efficient customer service. Etiquette matters in-house or outsourcing. BPO partners & SLAs enforce best practices for impeccable customer interactions. Learn more.
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Written by Dion Jay Tality

Contents

Excellent customer service is fundamental to the success of a business, and utilizing contact center as a service (CCaaS) software is a great way to enhance efficiency. However, the right technology is just part of the equation. The importance of customer service etiquette cannot be overstated, whether managing customer interactions internally or through an external provider.

If you’re considering outsourcing, it’s vital to select a business process outsourcing (BPO) company that emphasizes adherence to customer service etiquette. Implementing effective strategies to oversee agent interactions with customers is key. It’s also essential to clearly define these standards in the service-level agreement (SLA) to ensure compliance and facilitate monitoring.

Next, we’ll explore the essential best practices your outsourced agents should implement to maintain exemplary customer service etiquette.

15 Best Practices for Customer Service Etiquette in Outsourcing

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In this digital transformation era, many companies outsource customer service tasks to leverage CCaaS software. So what is CCaaS? It is a cloud-based, provider-hosted technology offering multiple communication channels for customer interaction.

But as mentioned, delivering outstanding customer service is more than just having the right technology. Customer service agents still play the most critical role in ensuring high satisfaction. Thus, customer service requires establishing etiquette guidelines and implementing best practices. 

You can enhance the buyer journey and achieve customer satisfaction with specific customer service protocols. About 73% of business leaders reported a direct link between customer service and business performance. So make sure to prioritize your customers to increase your bottom line. 

Consider the key statistics from Zendesk’s CX Trends 2022 report below:

  • 93% of customers are willing to spend more on companies that offer their preferred customer service options.
  • 90% will spend more on companies that personalize their customer service experience.
  • 70% base their purchasing decisions on the quality of customer service.
  • 81% say a positive experience will prompt them to make another purchase.

When outsourcing, ensure the customer service representatives your BPO partner provides uphold your established customer service etiquette. They should follow these best practices:

1. Start With Warm Greetings

First impressions are crucial in any human interaction, especially customer service. Hire a BPO vendor that trains its team to warmly greet customers. A friendly welcome sets the tone for positive customer interaction.

Improve your customer service etiquette by ensuring that your outsourced customer service agents:

  • Smile when greeting customers.
  • Start with a friendly “good morning” or “good afternoon.”
  • Introduce themselves using easy-to-remember names, and
  • Sound natural, not scripted or robotic.

Warm greetings enable agents to quickly and easily connect with customers. They help build trust and confidence in your business right at the onset. Thus, starting with warm greetings goes a long way toward achieving excellent customer service. 

2. Create a Verification Process

In customer service, verifying a customer’s identity is critical. This process ensures that only authorized individuals have access to sensitive information. 

The verification process promotes data privacy and protection against data breaches, which have become increasingly prevalent worldwide. There were nearly 125 million cases of data breaches in the fourth quarter of 2020 (the highest ever recorded), although the number decreased to almost 15 million in the third quarter of 2022. 

So when outsourcing customer service, choose a BPO provider that creates a standard agent verification process. The verification process should:

  • Be clear, efficient, and streamlined;
  • Require at least two pieces of security information (such as account number, Social Security number, date of birth, or phone number); and
  • Include stringent authorization requirements.

Having a well-defined verification process builds customer trust and confidence. It shows your commitment to high-quality customer service while maintaining privacy and security.

3. Ask Proper Questions

Asking the right questions is crucial to providing excellent customer service. This step often follows the opening spiel and verification process. Customer service representatives make inquiries to find the root cause of a problem and provide the best solution. Asking appropriate questions also ensures customers feel heard and understood.

When outsourcing customer service, provide clear guidelines for what questions to ask and how to ask them. Your BPO provider should establish a consistent approach for asking questions and train its representatives in this. The questions should be respectful, non-intrusive, and relevant to customers’ issues.

Contact center agents can build customer rapport by asking appropriate and respectful questions. Ultimately, they can successfully resolve customers’ issues.

4. Practice Active Listening

Active listening fosters meaningful agent-customer interaction. It allows customer service representatives to clarify issues, establish empathy, and avoid misunderstandings.

Work with your BPO provider to create a culture of active listening. It should remind agents to listen carefully and thoughtfully respond when interacting with customers. Being heard and understood is essential to making customers feel valued and assuring them that their opinions matter.

Ensure your third-party agents interact with customers based on your established customer service etiquette. Ask your BPO partner to implement these best practices for active listening:

  • Maintain eye contact and avoid defensive posture such as folding arms
  • Wait until the customer has finished speaking
  • Rephrase or repeat what the customer has said
  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Be patient and neutral

Customers are diverse, and what works for one might not work for others. BPO agents should provide each individual with a personalized customer service experience through active listening.

5. Use Acknowledgment and Paraphrasing

Utilizing acknowledgment and paraphrasing is crucial for delivering exceptional customer service. Acknowledgment involves validating the customer’s concerns, feelings, and viewpoints. On the other hand, paraphrasing is about rephrasing the customer’s statements to ensure their issues are fully understood.

When you outsource your customer service, it’s important that your chosen BPO partner embeds these techniques within their customer service standard operating procedures (SOP). Crafting effective scripts for customer service representatives and providing them with training to respond to customers genuinely and empathetically is also beneficial.

Through acknowledgment, your BPO agents can more effectively alleviate customer frustrations or anger. Additionally, paraphrasing aids these agents in clearing up any confusion and gaining a better grasp of the customer’s issues, enabling them to offer more efficient and apt solutions.

6. Show Sympathy and Empathy

Sympathy and empathy are two essential ingredients in the customer service recipe. Sympathy involves understanding customers’ situations and feeling compassion for their experience. Meanwhile, empathy entails putting oneself in the customers’ shoes and experiencing their feelings.

When outsourcing customer service, ensure your BPO partner exhibits these vital qualities. Your contracted vendor should include these customer service etiquette basics in its training. Outsourced customer service representatives should:

  • Attentively listen to customers and strive to deeply understand their perspectives.
  • Ask insightful questions and delve further into consumer needs,
  • Recognize and acknowledge the customers’ feelings and circumstances, and
  • Promptly address their concerns and effectively resolve their issues.

BPO agents create long-lasting, positive customer relationships by showing sympathy and empathy. This translates to customer support and loyalty in your business.

7. Implement a Proper Hold Procedure

The way customer service representatives handle on-hold situations during live chats or calls is a crucial aspect of customer service etiquette. Implementing a proper hold procedure can prevent frustration and dissatisfaction among customers.

For a proper hold procedure for your agents, consider the following steps:

  • Seek permission. Agents should always ask for permission before placing customers on hold. This gesture shows respect and consideration for customers and prevents potential misunderstandings.
  • Provide a time frame. Since not all customers are patient, agents should provide a time frame for their expected return.
  • Return within the set time frame. Agents should return within the specified time frame. They should inform the customer and request an extension if they need additional time to complete a task.
  • Express gratitude: Agents should always thank customers for staying on the line. “Thank you” goes a long way toward making customers feel acknowledged and valued.
  • Apologize for the wait. Customer service representatives should also express regret for any inconvenience the delay may have caused. Apologizing shows that customer satisfaction is their top priority.

Note: Employing a cloud-based contact center solution can enhance the on-hold experience for customers by providing entertainment options during the wait.

8. Identify Customer Issues

Identifying customer issues is key to resolving concerns in customer service. Ensure your BPO partner has a well-developed technique for identifying and resolving customer issues.

To effectively identify customer issues, BPO agents must attentively listen to complaints while noting critical points. Gathering additional details helps them better understand problems and provide appropriate solutions. So you might want to consider creating a list of questions such as the following:

  • When did you purchase the product or service?
  • What seems to be causing the problem?
  • How frequently does the problem occur?
  • Do you have images or videos that show the product or service defects?
  • What actions have you taken so far to resolve the issue?

Customer service representatives can efficiently gather the information they need to provide effective solutions using a standardized list of questions.

9. Explain Processes and Provide Updates

Customer service representatives must explain their methods for resolving problems and keep customers updated throughout the process. This step is critical to providing excellent customer service and applies to outsourcing. Determine whether your BPO provider has streamlined processes that ensure efficient communication and problem-solving.

Establishing a virtual contact center using the CCaaS platform is best. This platform provides customers with an overview of their positions in the queue and the status of their concerns. Conversely, it helps agents collect and manage data, collaborate with the right team members, and ultimately find solutions to customer problems.

Ensure effective communication among your outsourced customer service team, regardless of communication channels. To do this, agents should follow some basic tips, such as:

  • Being approachable and welcoming
  • Showing genuine interest
  • Addressing customers by their names
  • Using proper language
  • Maintaining the right tone
  • Staying patient
  • Seeking permission before asking for important details

These best practices are a crucial part of customer service etiquette. They help maintain a high level of professionalism, guaranteeing a positive customer experience.

10. Resolve Issues or Address Concerns

A true measure of excellent customer service is 100% issue resolution. Customers seek answers or solutions whenever they reach out to your customer service team. Your agents are then responsible for effectively addressing their concerns.

Ensure your BPO provider prioritizes this aspect when outsourcing your customer service. Your contracted vendor should equip its agents with the necessary knowledge and resources to resolve issues and address concerns by:

  • Providing training in the products or services your company offers;
  • Requiring agents to familiarize themselves with company policies and procedures for issue resolution during orientation; and
  • Giving agents access to information about common customer inquiries and issues.

Properly resolving issues and addressing concerns can improve customer satisfaction and encourage repeat business. Implementing best practices for issue resolution leads to satisfied customers and increased profits.

11. Offer Extra Help

As part of customer service etiquette, agents usually ask, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” before ending a call or chat. This question shows a willingness to go above and beyond to provide exceptional customer service. 

Remember that customers might have multiple questions or concerns when contacting customer service. As such, agents should always be ready to offer additional help to meet all their needs.

Instruct your BPO agents to provide extra support before concluding a conversation. Importantly, they must be genuinely willing to assist customers. 

By consistently offering exceptional service, you can set your company apart from competitors and build a strong reputation for customer support. Ultimately, that leads to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

12. Have a Graceful Closing

While first impressions last, call-closing statements leave a mark. This idea applies to customer service etiquette as well. Your contracted customer service representatives should conclude customer interactions with a bang.

In contact centers, for example, customer service representatives end calls with “Thank you for calling” or “Have a great day.” In addition, the closing spiel should:

  • Summarize the entire customer interaction or conversation;
  • Provide additional information or follow-up instructions when necessary.
  • Thank the customer for doing business with your company, and
  • Wish customers a good day.

Ensure that your BPO customer service representatives are trained to gracefully and professionally end conversations. Using graceful closing spiels helps your third-party agents create positive customer relationships.

13. Encourage Customer Feedback

Customer feedback is essential for improving service effectiveness, products, and services. It measures satisfaction levels to enhance customer service etiquette and engagement strategies. CCaaS can help with encouraging and acquiring customer feedback.

Through your outsourced customer service team, encourage customers to provide feedback through surveys and the following means:

  • Follow-up calls, emails, or chats
  • Digital survey forms
  • Feedback boxes (if in-person customer service is possible)
  • Clickstreams or heatmaps
  • Web-based customer feedback forms
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Social media posts
  • Online forums

Customer feedback provides valuable insights into which workforce skills and policies need improvement. Combine these insights with your BPO partner’s guidelines and strategies to improve efficiency. You can improve customer service and maintain brand loyalty by seeking and utilizing customer feedback.

14. Professionally Handle Irate Customers

Dealing with angry and frustrated customers is an inevitable part of customer service. Professionally handling such customers is crucial to maintaining your business reputation and ensuring loyalty. But it can be more challenging when outsourcing to a BPO provider. 

When working with a BPO partner, ensure its customer service team follows these best practices:

  • Actively listen to customer concerns. Agents should empathize with customers’ frustrations. They should allow customers to express their emotions before providing solutions. This approach helps de-escalate the situation and calm the customers.
  • Take ownership of the issue. Agents should also apologize for any inconvenience caused. They should acknowledge that the customers’ concerns are valid and that they understand how the customers feel. This approach shows that they seriously take customer complaints into account.
  • Provide solutions or offer alternative options. These offers should resolve the issues to the customers’ satisfaction. If necessary, agents should escalate the problems to higher authorities but must inform the customers about the escalation.
  • Thank the customer for bringing up the issue. Agents should assure customers that they will do everything possible to resolve issues. They should provide follow-up plans until they fully solve the problems.

With all these in mind, your agents can appease even the most difficult customers and resolve the most complex issues.

15. Personalize Customer Experience

Customers expect businesses to provide a personalized experience across multiple channels in this digital age. According to Salesforce, 56% of over 13,000 polled customers expect companies to tailor their offers to meet consumer needs. Customers want to be treated as unique individuals with different preferences, not just numbers.

Personalized customer service can increase customer satisfaction and retention, ultimately boosting your bottom line. Therefore, when outsourcing customer service, include personalization in your operational strategies. Ensure that your BPO service provider trains its agents to:

  • Respect and accommodate customers’ preferred communication channels;
  • Address customers by their names (whether through phone calls, email, or chat);
  • Be proactive in solving issues;
  • Provide fast and convenient problem resolutions, and
  • Collect reviews and apply insights. 

With these best practices, you can establish stronger customer relationships and earn loyalty.

The Bottom Line

Mastering Customer Service Etiquette Top 15 Best Practices in Outsourcing

Instilling customer service etiquette within your organization guarantees that your third-party agents interact with your customers in a respectful and confident manner. A collaborative relationship between agents and customers is the foundation of a successful resolution of issues. Adding CCaaS (Contact Center as a Service) further amplifies the customer experience.

Therefore, when you opt for outsourcing, it’s crucial to emphasize the significance of customer service etiquette and consider the best practices we’ve outlined. Proper treatment of customers leads to their satisfaction, enhances customer retention, and contributes significantly to the overall success of your business.

For expert assistance in implementing these practices and enhancing your customer service through CCaaS, contact Unity Communications.

Unity Communications
At Unity Communications, our mission is to consistently assist our clients in growing and achieving success while providing superior leadership and customer service. Our team of over 350 onshore, nearshore, and offshore BPO agents caters to startup clients and Fortune 500 accounts alike. More than 50 U.S.-based companies leverage our expertise to run, grow, and scale their operations
Unity Communications

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