By Peter DeHaan, PhD
The success rate of agents transferring calls is not good. In fact, based on my experience, successful call transfers actually occur less than half the time. The most common result is being disconnected. When a disconnected caller calls back, the happy caller has likely become irritated, the irritated caller has become irate, and the irate caller has become abusive.
You can tip the odds in your favor, by following some common sense, but often overlooked steps:
Training: The proper transfer procedure must be covered in training. Additionally, the trainee should be able to experience the transfer from three different perspectives: the caller, the agent, and the recipient. All too often, agents are deprived of seeing the call transfer process from the standpoint of either the caller or the recipient. Doing so gives them a better understanding how errors affect others and evokes empathy.
Practice: To master a skill, it must be practiced until it becomes rote — prior to attempting it with a real caller. Plus, for agents not frequently transferring calls, ongoing practice is wise.
Consistency: Most switches provide multiple ways to transfer calls. Pick the most universally applicable method and teach it to all agents. Get the trainers to concur that this standard method will be taught and no others. Finally discourage agents from using different approaches and seeking shortcuts.
Methodology: Decide on one philosophy for transferring calls. A blind transfer is the quickest, but least professional. With it the agent dials the number, connects the caller, and hangs up before the call is answered. In an announced transfer, the agent dials the number, tells the recipient about the call, connects the caller, and then hangs up. A confirmed transfer is one step beyond an announced transfer, in which the agent stays connected long enough to insure that the recipient can address the caller’s needs.
Verify: Transfer lists need to be periodically checked — by dialing them. Frequent verification is the only way to purge wrong numbers and ensure agents have accurate information.
First-Call Resolution: If you pursue first-call resolution, the need to transfer callers is greatly reduced. Perhaps that is the best solution of all.