Answer 365 Earns CAM-X Award of Excellence

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Answer 365 Earns CAM-X Award of Excellence

October 23, 2017 Blog by admin

Vancouver, Canada (October 20, 2017) — Answer 365 of Halifax, NS has been honoured with the exclusive 2017 Award of Excellence for the 13th year.  The Award is presented annually by the Canadian Call Management Association (CAM-X), the industry’s Trade Association for providers of call centre services including telephone answering and message delivery. Answer 365 was presented with the Award recently at the CAM-X 53rd Annual Convention and Trade Show held at the Marriott Pinnacle in Vancouver, BC.

Independent judges are contracted by CAM-X to evaluate message services over a six-month period.  The scoring criteria includes:

-  Response Time

-  Courteousness of Rep

-  Accuracy of Call

-  Knowledge of Account

-  Overall Impression of Call

“Huge congratulations to Answer 365 for winning this prestigious award.   The responsibility and effort required to participate, and succeed, in the Award of Excellence program is a direct reflection of the commitment to quality and service excellence demonstrated by Answer 365’,” says CAM-X President Dana Lloyd.

Now a thirteen-time winner Answer 365 earned the Diamond Plus Award for thirteen years. CAM-X extends its congratulations to the staff of Answer 365 on their proven quality service to their customers.

About CAM-X

CAM-X is a Canadian based trade Association for the Call Management industry which includes call centres, telephone answering services, telemarketing services, and other communication services.  Their goal is to contribute to their members’ profitability by fostering a willingness to exchange ideas, experiences and solutions while promoting the general welfare and ethical standards of our industry. Please visit www.camx.ca for more information.

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How to Answer Your Phone Professionally

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How to Answer Your Phone Professionally

October 17, 2017 Blog by admin

First impressions are crucial in business, and nothing kills a first impression like an unprofessional pickup on your telephone calls. Luckily, it doesn’t take tons of training or special skills to answer your phone like a professional. Here’s how to answer your phone professionally for a better impression every time.

Don’t leave them hanging

Try to answer your calls on the first or second ring rather than letting it ring several times. At best, your caller may start the call feeling annoyed that they had to wait for you to answer. At worst, they’ll simply hang up and call your competitor!

Tell them who they’ve reached

While giving your own name is important (it helps to personalize the call), it’s also very important to mention the name of the business first thing. This helps put customers at ease knowing that they’ve reached the correct business and sets a professional tone for the entire call. It’s such a simple, small step, but it really is very important in establishing a professional tone to your call.

Keep a positive attitude

Keeping a cheerful, ‘can do’ attitude on the telephone is important. It shows your customers that you are happy to help them and you are willing to make the effort needed to address the reason for their call. If you answer the phone a great number of times throughout the day, it can be difficult to keep a cheerful disposition. One great tip is to put a smile on your face before you answer every call. This ‘tricks’ your brain into delivering a positive greeting to your customers.

Speak clearly and slowly

Just because you’re familiar with what you’re talking about, it doesn’t mean that your customers will be. Speak slowly and enunciate carefully to avoid any confusion or breakdown in communication. You don’t have to have a huge, complicated vocabulary in order to sound professional. Just make sure you’re communicating clearly and confidently to your customers and they’ll be suitably impressed.

Be proactive

Don’t know the answer to your caller’s question? Let them know that you’ll research the answer and call them back. Make sure you give them a time that you’ll call them and follow through. Nothing is more unprofessional that a failure to keep your promise!

For more great tips on communicating with your customers, visit Answer 365 today.

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How Call Centers Benefit Investment Property Owners

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How Call Centers Benefit Investment Property Owners

October 10, 2017 Blog by admin

If you’re an investment property owner, you may have never considered using a call centre to help with your business. After all, your business is property, not customer service, right? Well, actually, customer service plays a big part in every business, even property management. Here are some ways that using a call centre could help with your investment property.

Scheduling appointments

People may find your property at any time, day or night. They may be desperate to call and arrange a time to come and view the property, but if your schedules conflict, it may result in an endless series of missed calls and messages, ultimately leading to frustration for both parties.

If you use a call centre to handle your appointment scheduling, potential tenants can reach ‘you’ at any time, day or night. This cuts down on stress for you and offers potential tenants more flexibility in how and when they can reach you.

After hours calls from tenants

If your tenants can’t reach you after hours, they could become very frustrated, especially if there’s a problem with their rental property. However, do you really want to try and field phone calls at all hours? If you have multiple properties, this can quickly become a nightmare for you and a real inconvenience for your tenants.

Using a call centre to answer these after hours calls means your tenants always get the swift response they need along with excellent customer service. It takes some of the pressure off of you since the call centre can prioritize the calls by the severity of the problem, too. Maintenance requests, questions about their lease, and other calls can be dealt with more efficiently by a call centre, making your job less stressful and keeping your tenants happier.

Access for utilities

If you need to meet the utility companies at your property, you could wait around for hours for them to call and tell you they’re on their way. Or, you could let your call centre handle the call and alert you when you’re needed.

For more information on how call centres can help your business, talk to one of the friendly advisors at Answer 365 today.

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Choosing a Toronto Call Centre for Your Business

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Choosing a Toronto Call Centre for Your Business

October 03, 2017 Blog by admin

Choosing a Toronto call centre for your business may seem like a daunting task, but it’s really not all that difficult if you know what to look for. At the end of the day, a call centre is meant to be a wonderful addition to your customer service network. It should be able to meet your business needs as well as your customers’ needs. Here’s how to choose a great call centre for your business.

Know what you need

Are you looking for someone to simply answer calls while the office closed, or do you need a full service customer service option? Some call centres are really only answering services. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if that’s what you’re looking for, but if you need more in depth service options, make sure the company you choose offers it.

Inbound and outbound services

If you want to use a call centre that makes outbound calls (lead sourcing, cold calling, etc.), you’ll need to make sure that this is a service offered by the call centre. Some centres are strictly customer service oriented, that is, they only handle inbound calls from customers, calling outbound as needed to meet the customer's’ needs.

Are the call centre agents devoted to your business?

Some centres assign designated employees to each business while others use a shared agent system where agents field calls from several different businesses. While this may not necessarily impact the quality of the service they provide, you may need to decide which option is best for your particular business.

Hours/availability

One of the main reasons businesses use call centres is to increase their availability to their customers. Therefore, it’s important to know what hours your call centre will make themselves available to your customers. The more hours, the better, but be prepared to pay a little more for longer availability.

Bilingual/multilingual services

It’s especially important that multilingual services are available to your customers. You don’t want to neglect those customers who don’t use English as their first language. Some call centres have multilingual reps while others use third party translation services. Make sure the centre you choose meets the needs of all your customers, not just the English-speaking ones.

For more tips on choosing a call centre, contact Answer 365 today.

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Understanding the Importance of Consistency to Customers

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Understanding the Importance of Consistency to Customers

September 26, 2017 Blog by admin

Consistency is more important than you may realize when it comes to customer service. It’s a sign of reliability and security for your customers. It shows them that they can trust you to be a brand or business they can rely one. Here’s why consistency really matters to your customers.

Quality and consistency

Every customer looks for quality in the goods and services that they consume. If you don’t consistently offer high quality in your goods and services, customers will go elsewhere. Can you blame them? No one wants to play a guessing game when it comes to quality, so be sure to prioritize consistency in the quality of your customer service, too.

Recognition

Brand recognition relies heavily on consistency. This goes hand in hand with quality recognition--your customers should not only recognize your company’s brand through consistent marketing, they should also be able to associate that brand with quality and even customer satisfaction. Build a reputation for consistency and you’ll win over more customers with less effort.

Reliability and relationship building

Offering consistent quality and customer service helps define your reliability in the eyes of your customers. If they know they can count on you to be consistently reliable, they’ll become more loyal. The longer to remain consistent to these values of quality, reliability, and service, the stronger your relationship with your customers will become.

The key to developing customer loyalty doesn’t lie in endless promotions and free giveaways. It lies in dependability and consistency. If your customers feel secure in their relationship with your business, they’ll be more likely to remain loyal customers for longer.

Consistency and customer service

If your customers don’t know what to expect every time they contact you, they’ll be less likely to stick around. It’s no good having an amazing customer experience one day, then a horrible one the next. You need to ensure that you provide consistently excellent customer service across the board, every day of the week. If your customers know that they can count on you, they’ll remain loyal to your business.

Visit Answer 365 today for more tips and advice on growing your relationship with your customers.

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How to Save Your Customers Time

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How to Save Your Customers Time

September 19, 2017 Blog by admin

In today’s ‘I need it now’ society, people are far too busy to wait for great customer service. As more demands are put upon your customers in their everyday lives, you’ll probably find that they have less time to interact with you when they really need to. In order to still provide awesome customer service, you need to learn how to help save your customers some time. Here’s how to save your customers time when they come to you for help.

Make it easy for customers to reach you

Don’t force your customers to go searching for your contact information--that’s a huge waste of their time and energy. Instead, make sure you offer ample ways for your customers to reach you and display this information in multiple places. Got a website? Put it on every page. Social media profiles? Be sure to include your telephone number on these in case your customers prefer speaking with an actual person.

Provide self-service as well

Some busy customers prefer to tackle small issues on their own. Make sure you allow for that as much as possible, but also include options for your customers to reach you at any stage in the process.

Try to solve the problem within first contact

First contact resolution is more than just a customer service buzzword. It means aiming to solve your customer’s problem the first time they contact you. It may mean spending more time on the problem right then, even putting customers on hold while you do so, but it will save them time in the long run if they don’t have to keep calling you back to get the issue resolved.

Keep your customer service staff well-trained

The more your CSRs know about how to handle your customer’s problems, the faster they’ll be able to solve them. Adopt a policy of ongoing training and reviewing your policies and procedures. The more time you spend developing a great team of CSRs, the more time you’ll be able to save your customers’ time.

For more great tips and advice to help your customers, visit the Answer 365 blog regularly.

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Customer Service Team Building Activity: Thank You, Me.

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Customer Service Team Building Activity: Thank You, Me.

September 12, 2017 Blog by admin

Does your customer service team inspire gratitude from your customers? Sure, they are helping your customers when they call in, but are they delighting them during the process? This simple and thoughtful activity will help your customer service team better appreciate what it is that inspires gratitude and loyalty from your customers, so that they can strive to do so.

Activity: Thank you, Me.

You'll need: a pen and full sheet of paper for each participant.

How to play:

  1. Ask your team members to each share a (short) recent customer service story. Have them share the name of their customer, and the issue that they need support with.
  2. After everyone has a chance to share, have each participant write a "Thank you" letter to themselves as if they were the customer they supported. Ask them to write specifics about how the interaction made their day better, and why it makes them appreciate their connection with your business.
  3. Ask for volunteers to share their letter, and discuss as a group.

The lesson to share: This activity is a great way to get your customer service team thinking about what they can do to make the customers interaction with the company one that they will feel very good about, and perhaps grateful for. It is important to remember that even difficult situations can have a positive outcome, and that as the customer service representative, they have the power to make every single customer experience a great one.

As this activity also include group sharing, it is also a great activity to build team morale and relationships. Bonus!

Ideas adapted from this list of customer service team building activities: https://www.comm100.com/blog/customer-service-training-activities.html

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5 Signs That Your Organization is Ready to Hire a Call Centre

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5 Signs That Your Organization is Ready to Hire a Call Centre

September 05, 2017 Blog by admin

How do you know then it’s time to use a call centre for your customer service needs? Several signs can indicate that it’s time to hire a call centre for your business. Here are five signs that your organization is ready to hire a call centre.

Negative feedback from your customers

If your customers are not happy with your customer service reps, it could be for a number of reasons. Maybe they’re not skilled enough to handle the calls effectively, or maybe they’re overwhelmed and overworked. Whatever the reason, if your customers tell you that your customer service isn’t good, you’d better listen and consider a call centre.

High employee turnover in customer service

Unhappy employees make for poor customer service, so if your employees are not happy and are willing to leave their jobs, ask yourself if it’s because they are overworked trying to handle the calls coming in. Or, are they not suitably trained for customer service (and you have no plans or means to train them). In this type of situation, hiring a call centre takes the pressure off your employees and improves service to your customers.

Increase in overtime, decrease in vacation time

If you find that you’re asking more customer service employees to cover longer hours or take fewer breaks, it may be time to hire a call centre. Overworking your CSRs is surefire way to make customer service levels drop. You could hire more employees, or, you could hire a call centre to handle the calls and free up your customer service staff to handle other projects and customer-related tasks.

No signs of growth in your business

If your business’ growth has flatlined, it may be because you simply don’t have enough staff to push through and grow your business through customer service. Don’t wait for your business to stagnate--keep an open mind about your customer service options and plan for success.

Loss of customers

Stagnation is bad enough, but if you lose customers, you could be putting your business at risk of failing. A call centre can help ensure that every customer gets the attention they deserve so they’ll remain loyal to your business for years to come.

For more tips and advice on hiring a call centre, visit Answer 365 today.

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Customer Service Team Building Activity Whats My Name

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Customer Service Team Building Activity Whats My Name

August 29, 2017 Blog by admin

Is your customer service team listening to your clients? Of course, they are answering the phone and providing customer service, but are they listening to your customers well enough to remember the details? As we know, the details are important, and it's truly what sets you apart from your competitors. This fun team building activity will emphasize the importance of truly listening to those they are serving, and will help your team get to know each other as well.

Activity: What's My Name?

You'll need: at least 6 participants, each with a pen and paper, and a timer.

How to play: Have 2 groups of 3 (or more, even numbers of participants is best) line up facing each other. Give them 2 minutes to ask and answer the following questions with the person they are facing:

  • What's your full name?
  • What is your favourite pass time?
  • What is the name of your first pet?

After 2 minutes, have the participants move on to a different person facing them and repeat the above questions. After another 2 minutes, repeat for a third and final time with a different person. When the six minutes of talking and listening are up, have each participant write down the answers that each person gave to them to see how much they can remember.

Do the activity again with a different set of questions. It's likely that the participants will find it less difficult to remember after round 2 as the increase their focus.

The lesson to share: When on the phone with customers, remember how important it is to focus all of your attention on them, and to truly listen to what they are saying to you. What can you do to minimize distractions? Another point of note, think of how you felt if/when someone remembered all of the details you shared about yourself - much better than being forgotten!

We encourage you to give this easy exercise a try with your staff this week. Not only will they be reminded of a valuable customer service lesson, but they will likely also get the chance to get to know each other a little bit better, boosting team unity.

Ideas adapted from this list of customer service team building activities: https://www.comm100.com/blog/customer-service-training-activities.html

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Hiring new Customer Service representatives: Here are some interview questions you need to ask

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Hiring new Customer Service representatives: Here are some interview questions you need to ask

August 22, 2017 Blog by admin

When you’re putting together your customer service team, you need to make sure you are hiring people who not only know how to take care of your customers, you also have to make sure you are hiring people who fit well with your company and its ideals. Here are some interview questions you need to ask when hiring for customer service.

How’s your tolerance for stress?

Even with great customers and fun coworkers, busy days in customer service can become stressful very easily. Customer service agents are the frontline face of any business, so they need to be able to handle the slings and arrows of unexpected problems, irate customers, or heavy call volume without losing their cool. Ask them to describe a stressful event in their past and explain to you how they handled it.

Do you feel comfortable making decisions?

Employees who feel empowered to make decisions based on their customers’ best needs will do well in the customer service industry. If you give your employees enough control (and you should), you need to be sure they can be counted on to make good decisions, especially under stressful situations. Ask about any times that they’ve had to make difficult or stressful decisions in their past work life.

How do you handle difficult people?

This question really has two purposes. First, you need to know how they’ll handle a difficult customer in a stressful situation. Second, you need to know how they’ll handle working with co-workers that they may not agree with. Ideally, all your customer service representatives will be friendly and get along well, but realistically, that’s not always going to be the case. Look for answers that include how they’ll use problem solving skills to find solutions to the disagreements. Ask about previous times when they’ve had to deal with difficult people.

Why do you want to work in customer service?

Knowing what motivates your customer service staff will help you help them to do the best job possible. What do they like best about this type of work? What do they like least? If you know the ‘why’ behind their desire to work for your company, you can be sure that they’re taking a customer service job for the right reasons.

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