How to Improve Call Center Customer Service

15 min read
About the Author
Sam Schneider
Sam Schneider

Samantha is an expert in organizational efficiency and effectiveness, drives our customer-obsessed culture, and is a champion for inclusivity at Bloomfire. Her leadership has inspired our team to create products that our customers love, which has been rewarded with great loyalty. Sam focuses on operational excellence, particularly in customer success organizations.

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    Understanding how to improve call center customer service is critical to your organization’s reputation and success. There are few other instances in which your business has as much direct communication with its customers as during a service or support call. 

    A conversation can permanently alter a customer’s impression of your brand and make or break their trust in your solution. The cost of poor customer service is simply too high. 

    11 Ways to Improve Call Center Customer Service

    To start improving your call center operations and elevate your customer experience, explore these customer service tips for call centers through our eleven strategic insights:

    1. Listen to Your Customers

    This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many call centers base their entire workflow—including scripts and escalation protocol—on assumptions and outdated data.

    To ensure you deliver the best possible experiences, listen to your customers and learn more about their challenges and needs. A recommendation or clarification might appear irrelevant or condescending to more sophisticated customers. Similarly, highly technical information may be too complex for some customers, making instructions useless to these less savvy people.

    Here are a few things you can do to tailor your experiences better to meet the needs of both technical and less technical customers.

    Automate Identification of New Customer Questions

    In customer service today, traditional methods of tracking customer inquiries can fall short. Integrating AI and machine learning offers a transformative solution by automating the discovery of new frequently asked questions. These technologies sift through call recordings, chat logs, and various customer interactions, analyzing them in real-time to detect emerging patterns, trends, and questions. This ensures that your customer service representatives are always armed with the most current information, significantly enhancing their ability to meet customer needs promptly and effectively.

    Incorporating these AI-driven insights into your knowledge management platform is crucial for continuously updating your customer questions and answers repository. This approach not only streamlines the process of identifying new inquiries but also empowers your agents with a tool that evolves alongside your products and the market. Leveraging technology in this way highlights your commitment to innovation and excellence in customer service, distinguishing your brand in a competitive industry.

    Understand Who Your Callers Are and the Path They Took to Contacting You

    Remember that customers contacting your call center may have already engaged with other parts of your company. For example, you work for a retailer that sells high-end cameras. A customer might chat with a support agent on your company’s website to get advice about what camera to purchase, read the support documentation that comes with the camera, and then reach out to your call center to troubleshoot an issue. 

    They’ve already interacted with your company through several channels, and understanding their path to contact you can help your support agents deliver efficient assistance. A few ways to gain insights into their journey are:

    • CRM Integration: Use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system integrated across all platforms to track the customer’s history, including previous support interactions and purchases. This gives agents a holistic view of the customer’s engagement with your brand.
    • Customer Journey Analytics: Employ analytics tools to monitor and evaluate the customer’s journey across all touchpoints. This approach identifies common routes and potential friction points, guiding agents in effectively addressing customer needs.
    • Feedback Surveys: Implement brief surveys following customer interactions to gather insights into their journey leading to the contact. This feedback can highlight typical pathways and improve the overall service strategy.
    • Data Analysis and Reporting: Regularly analyze customer data to uncover trends in the customer journey. This ongoing evaluation helps refine support processes and ensure agents are prepared to meet customers’ needs.
    • Cross-Departmental Sharing: Foster a culture of information sharing between departments such as sales, marketing, and customer service. This collaboration ensures a comprehensive understanding of the customer journey, enabling agents to provide consistent and informed support.

    When you know more about the roles and responsibilities of the people calling, you can customize the customer experience better.

    2. Get Aligned With Your Market Research Team

    If your company conducts market research, your support teams will have access to a wealth of customer insights—as long as they know where to find them. Seeing this research will help your contact center employees better understand customer trends and behavior, ultimately allowing them to deliver a better customer experience.

    Partner with your market research team to ensure that they’re communicating their research results to your contact center employees and giving your employees a place they can go to refer back to existing research, like your knowledge management system. This system is a centralized repository where insights are stored and easily retrievable, ensuring all team members have the information they need to provide informed and effective customer support.

    3. Hold Empathy Training

    Empathy is one of the most important soft skills for call center agents. Many people contacting a call center face an obstacle or need information quickly. These callers may be stressed, frustrated, and irritable. 

    Your agents must demonstrate empathy to help defuse the situation and promote a better customer experience.

    But while most people have plenty of compassion for others, they’re not always able to adequately express it—especially amidst the repetitive duties of phone work.

    To help develop empathy skills, hold customer experience training for call center agents focusing on compassionate language. Roleplay upset customer scenarios to help agents feel more comfortable using this phrasing.

    4. Personalize with CRM and AI

    Personalization is not just a luxury—it’s an expectation. A staggering 82% of consumers say personalized experiences influence the brand they purchase in at least half of all shopping situations. This statistic underscores the critical role of Integrating Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems into your call center operations to elevate the customer journey beyond the basics. These systems offer a goldmine of customer data, allowing you to tailor interactions with precision and care. By having a comprehensive view of each customer’s history, preferences, and past interactions, your agents can offer personalized service that resonates with them on a deeper level.

    Further amplifying the power of personalization, AI and machine learning technologies are transforming how we understand and engage with customers. These innovative tools analyze customer sentiment and behavior, enabling automated yet highly personalized responses to common inquiries. Beyond just addressing needs, AI can predict them, allowing your team to provide solutions before the customer even has to ask. This proactive approach enhances efficiency and significantly improves the overall customer experience.

    Incorporating CRM systems and AI into your call center strategy does more than streamline operations—it builds stronger customer connections. As these technologies evolve, they offer an ever-expanding horizon of possibilities for personalizing customer interactions, ensuring that your call center remains at the forefront of customer service excellence.

    5. Use Customer Journey Mapping

    Customer journey mapping is a strategic approach to visually illustrating customers’ processes, needs, and perceptions throughout their interaction and relationship with your brand. This method involves creating a detailed map representing every touchpoint a customer has with your brand, from initial awareness to post-purchase interactions. Doing so gives you invaluable insights into the customer’s experience, highlighting friction points and enhancement opportunities.

    How to Conduct Customer Journey Mapping

    • Gather Data: Start by collecting data from various customer touchpoints. This can include website analytics, call center logs, social media interactions, and customer feedback. Tools like CRM systems and analytics platforms can provide a wealth of information for this step.
    • Identify Key Touchpoints: Determine the critical moments that define the customer’s interaction with your brand. These can range from the first website visit to the post-purchase support call.
    • Map the Journey: Using the collected data, create a visual map that outlines each step of the customer’s journey. Tools like flowchart software or even simple graph paper can be effective. Ensure to note the customer’s emotional state and satisfaction level at each touchpoint.
    • Analyze and Identify Gaps: Look at the journey maps alongside core metrics such as customer satisfaction scores, conversion rates, and service interaction times. Identify where customers experience frustration or delight and pinpoint areas for improvement.
    • Implement Changes: Based on your findings, make targeted improvements to enhance the customer experience. This could involve streamlining the purchase process, offering more personalized customer service, or adding additional support channels.

    Applying Customer Journey Mapping in Call Centers

    In a call center context, understanding where customers are in their journey allows agents to effectively tailor their communication and support strategies. For instance, an agent interacting with a first-time caller considering a purchase must provide different information and reassurance than they would to a long-time customer facing a service issue.

    Customer journey mapping equips your team with the knowledge to adjust their approach based on the customer’s specific needs and history with your brand. This personalized service addresses customers’ immediate concerns and enhances their overall perception of your brand, potentially turning one-time callers into loyal customers.

    Integrating customer journey mapping into your call center operations creates a more nuanced and responsive customer service environment. This strategic approach ensures that every customer interaction is informed, purposeful, and tailored to the individual’s current position in their journey with your brand, significantly improving the overall customer experience.

    6. Show You Value Employee Ideas

    Melina McPhee, Manager of Global Customer Care at Estee Lauder, emphasized in a virtual fireside chat with Bloomfire, “The most important thing in a company is listening to the people on the front lines. It’s a disservice to the company if you create a space where people don’t feel safe sharing their ideas.”

    Valuing employee feedback is crucial for fostering an engaged and motivated workforce. Employees who feel their ideas are heard and acted upon are more committed to customer satisfaction and overall company success. Here are strategies to build effective workflows and feedback loops that ensure employee ideas lead to actionable change:

    • Dedicated feedback channels
    • Regular one-on-one meetings
    • Feedback review committee
    • Actionable workflows
    • Transparent feedback loop
    • Recognition programs
    • Continuous improvement culture

    By implementing these strategies, your organization can build robust workflows and feedback loops that show employees their ideas are valued and harness their insights to drive innovation and improvement. This approach enhances employee engagement and leverages frontline insights to enhance customer service and operational efficiency.

    7. Improve the Call Center Agent Experience

    Plenty of research shows a strong correlation between happy employees and satisfied customers. Workers who are empowered and participate in a healthy business culture feel more confident and engaged in their work, leading to better customer service and more robust business outcomes.

    Call centers are well-known for high turnover rates, often driven by toxic cultures, poor leadership, and low pay. Here are a few ways you can improve the call center employee experience and, by default, the customer experience:

    • Create an employee recognition program
    • Invest in employee wellness
    • Provide more reliable equipment and comfortable workstations
    • Improve benefits packages
    • Offer bonuses and other compensation incentives to high-performers
    • Ask for employee feedback (and address it)
    • Hold regular team-building activities

    Remember: call center reps are at the frontlines of customer communication. The less engaged they become, the more poorly it will reflect on your brand.

    A happier workforce is associated with companies’ ability to deliver better customer satisfaction,” write Glassdoor economists Andrew Chamberlain and Daniel Zhao in an article for the Harvard Business Review. “Particularly in industries with the closest contact between workers and customers.” 

    8. Embrace Sustainability in Call Center Operations

    In today’s environmentally conscious market, integrating sustainability practices into your call center operations can be a significant differentiator and reflect positively on your brand. Reducing paper usage through digital documentation is a straightforward yet effective strategy. Not only does it contribute to a healthier environment, but it also enhances operational efficiency by streamlining access to information and reducing clutter.

    Optimizing energy use in call center operations can also lead to substantial cost savings while minimizing your business’s carbon footprint. Consider implementing energy-efficient lighting, encouraging energy-saving modes for computers and other electronics, and exploring renewable energy sources. Promoting a culture that values energy conservation at home for remote or hybrid call centers can further extend your sustainability efforts.

    Incorporating sustainability practices demonstrates to your customers and employees that your organization is committed to making a positive impact beyond just the bottom line. It showcases a forward-thinking approach that aligns with the values of environmentally conscious consumers and contributes to a healthier planet. Communicating these efforts in customer interactions and marketing materials can strengthen your brand’s reputation and customer loyalty.

    9. Adapt to Remote Work with Cloud-Based Solutions

    The remote and hybrid work models have transformed the call center industry, bringing new challenges and opportunities for team cohesion and service quality. To navigate this shift effectively, embracing cloud-based call center solutions is essential. These platforms enable your agents to access the tools and information they would in a traditional office setting but with the flexibility to work from anywhere. This ensures that customer service remains seamless, regardless of your team’s location.

    Moreover, virtual collaboration tools have become indispensable for maintaining team cohesion in a remote work environment. Tools such as video conferencing shared digital workspaces, and real-time messaging apps facilitate clear communication and foster a sense of community among remote teams. They allow regular check-ins, collaborative problem-solving, and continuous training and development, vital for sustaining high service quality and employee engagement.

    Integrating these technologies not only supports the operational needs of a remote or hybrid call center but also enhances the work-life balance of your employees. By providing effective communication and collaboration tools, you can ensure your team remains united and motivated, leading to better customer experiences and overall performance. 

    10. Empower Your Employees

    It’s nearly impossible to eliminate hold times. After all, reps may need a moment to locate information, escalate a call to a manager, or research an issue to ensure they’re offering the best possible solution.

    But, in some instances, hold times can become a crutch for underprepared agents. And the longer or more often a customer is placed on hold, the more frustrated they become. When an agent cannot resolve someone’s concern and makes them wait, this can leave an indelible and poor impression of your brand. 

    The best way to reduce hold times is to prepare agents for various scenarios. That means scheduling regular training and refresh sessions and providing them with easy-to-access resources to quickly find information and solutions for customer concerns. 

    As a contact center leader, it’s important to identify common knowledge gaps causing your reps to place customers on hold. Contact center reps can’t be expected to memorize a customer’s questions and answers. Still, they should be able to refer to their company’s knowledge management platform whenever a customer asks something they don’t already know the answer to. They should also be able to contribute, and document questions and the best answers as they arise so that your customer support knowledge base continues to grow.

    11. Establish Robust Customer Feedback Loops

    Establishing robust mechanisms for continuous customer feedback is paramount in providing unparalleled customer service. Customer feedback loops are essential for understanding your call center’s strategies’ effectiveness and identifying improvement areas. By actively soliciting, listening to, and analyzing customer feedback, you can adjust your service approaches to ensure that your operations remain aligned with customer expectations and needs.

    Implementing various feedback channels—such as post-call surveys, feedback forms on your website, social media interactions, and direct customer calls—allows you to gather comprehensive insights into the customer experience. Integrating this feedback into your knowledge management platform can further enhance its value. This integration allows for the accumulation of actionable data. It facilitates the sharing of insights across teams, ensuring that every employee is aware of customer needs and the effectiveness of current service strategies.

    Leveraging technology to analyze feedback can help identify trends and patterns in customer satisfaction, enabling predictive adjustments to service delivery. This proactive approach to customer service demonstrates your commitment to listening and responding to customer feedback and fosters a culture of continuous improvement within your call center operations.

    By prioritizing customer feedback loops, your call center will improve its service quality and build stronger customer relationships, increasing loyalty and trust in your brand.

    Implement a Knowledge Management Platform

    Enhancing the customer service experience in your call center hinges on the accessibility of comprehensive, up-to-date information. A knowledge management platform like Bloomfire is instrumental in achieving this goal, providing a robust foundation that supports many strategies to uplift your customer service. 

    A reliable knowledge-sharing platform can:

    • Streamline onboarding
    • Promote faster resolutions
    • Increase first call resolution rate
    • Eliminate the spread of misinformation
    • Prevent the loss of tacit knowledge
    • Empower employees at every level

    Good knowledge management software scales across your business to implement these improvements comprehensively. It acts as a central hub that addresses these ways to enhance your call center’s customer service and fosters a collaborative and informed workplace. 

    Integrating a solution like Bloomfire ensures that every improvement—from listening to your customers more effectively to embracing sustainability in your operations—is supported by a dynamic and accessible knowledge management system. This seamless integration of Bloomfire into your call center operations amplifies the impact of each strategy, ensuring your team is empowered, your customers are satisfied, and your business thrives in a competitive landscape.

    “The quality of content with relevant information is always in there. Bloomfire has saved customer service reps time and ensured they get questions answered quickly and correctly.”

    MetagenicsDirector of Medical Information

    Elevating Your Call Center to Excellence: A Strategic Blueprint

    When your organization’s customer experience ratings face challenges, it’s natural to look towards enhancing sales processes or amplifying marketing efforts. However, the heart of customer satisfaction often lies within the nuances of your call center operations. By embracing the eleven comprehensive strategies outlined in this guide, including the pivotal role of a knowledge management platform, you can significantly elevate the customer service provided by your call center. This holistic approach for how to improve customer service in a call center enhances customer interactions and solidifies your brand’s reputation as a leader in customer care. 

    Elevate Your Support with Bloomfire

    Discover how Bloomfire can transform your call center’s customer service.

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    About the Author
    Sam Schneider
    Sam Schneider

    Samantha is an expert in organizational efficiency and effectiveness, drives our customer-obsessed culture, and is a champion for inclusivity at Bloomfire. Her leadership has inspired our team to create products that our customers love, which has been rewarded with great loyalty. Sam focuses on operational excellence, particularly in customer success organizations.

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