How Call Centers Can Manage a Brand Crisis

September 22, 2019

Call centers are integral to the survival of any company. In fact, in today’s social media savvy society, customer service can make or break your business. Customers now have a louder voice and aren’t afraid to publicize their opinions (especially of companies), so one poor interaction with a customer could cost your business customers and profits.

Social media’s impact can turn a single reputation-damaging gaffe into a worldwide viral sensation with one customer complaint. After 2018’s public relations scandals relating to a death of a French bulldog on a United Airlines flight and an allergy-related death from a Pret-A-Manger sandwich, it’s now clearer than ever how vital customer relations are to a business’s success.

And while these PR disasters can cause a storm on social media, criticism can flood into call centers, as well. So how can call centers help manage and mitigate a brand crisis? The following are a few tips on how to solve these situations and prevent an international blunder.

Utilize artificial intelligence

The use of artificial intelligence in the workplace is on the rise. During a brand crisis or even an everyday interaction, AI can be incredibly useful for a call center. An AI call center gives agents the power to utilize data to their benefit. Customers often complain of having to repeat themselves to a different agent, and this issue can likely heighten tensions with an already exasperated customer. To avoid that scenario, AI pulls customer’s data together so that the information is available on each agent’s screen. When the customer’s call is routed through several agents, the next agent already knows all of the customer’s details and the current situation.

Incorporating social listening can help you understand your consumers and their interactions with agents better. Social listening, the process of monitoring your company’s digital conversations, can give you insight into the crisis and understand why customers are upset. It can help you come up with solutions, better prepare agents, and craft an apology. Social listening tools powered by AI uses machine learning to better track conversations and deliver expert advice.

While some people see AI as taking away jobs, in reality, AI does not have the capability to replace the emotional connections humans can provide. Instead, AI makes agents’ jobs easier with technology that can improve customer relations.

Separate phone lines

Beyond artificial intelligence, call center managers can implement other ways to help manage a brand crisis. By separating crisis calls from regular customer service calls, you can establish how many agents you might need to address the issue and can help the center function more smoothly instead of having all agents inundated with frustrated calls.

Set up call-backs

During a brand crisis, high caller volume is likely. Offering customers a call-back helps reduce customers’ time on hold (which will only further annoy them) and help call center agents manage the spikes in calls.

Give agents a break

Call center agents are typically not the cause of a brand crisis, but, unfortunately, they bear the brunt of it. Dealing with angry customer after angry customer can become draining and can test agents’ emotions and mental capability. Allowing agents to take a breather in between calls will give them much-needed stress relief. Without a break, call center agents could become overwhelmed and sour their interactions with customers.

Be empathetic

Make sure your agents understand the importance of empathy. Agents should be trained to offer compassion and understanding when dealing with a frustrated caller. Responding robotically or defensively will only exacerbate the issue. During a crisis is the time to show your humanity to customers.

Customer service is always vital, but in the age of internet, it is imperative that call center agents are trained to handle a brand crisis of any kind. By following these tips, your agents will be better prepared to speak to customers and handle any questions or concerns they may have.

To read more on topics like this, check out the technology category.


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