Contact centre technology expert John Duffy looks at the challenges that plague call centre managers today and how cost management can actually be balanced with customer satisfaction.
It is not an easy task creating harmony between call centre efficiency and the customer experience – managers are expected to create real value for both the customer and the business, which is a big call.
Today’s 24/7 connected world is changing the way products and services are sold, delivered and supported. Digital transformation is creating new opportunities, but also firing up new customer demands, making the role of call centre manager even more challenging.
The best call centres are highly skilled in resource planning and management. But how do you reach this level of efficiency and understanding? Contact centre leaders and the brands they support have shared with us the most common call centre pitfalls and some practical tips on how to resolve them.
Response rates make glum reading
Response rates to outbound calls have been hit by cold calls and endless telephone scams. On the digital side, email is swamping recipients with an estimated 80% of unsolicited mails unopened and 30% identified as spam.
The answer is simple, drop traditional mail and email and switch to SMS (text messaging). Mobile is a top three communication channel for the under 55s, which is why companies are increasingly adopting it for their campaigns. The average millennial exchanges an average of 80 plus text messages a day. In addition, text messages have a 98% open rate, while email has only a 20% open rate, according to Mobile Marketing Watch. With over 2 billion smartphone users globally, mobile remains a key component of the customer experience.
Scant insight into user’s feelings
Do you actually know what customers think of your brand or services? Are you delivering what they want, or what you think they want? Having intelligence on your customers helps improve your outreach and better server their needs.
Businesses are fast realising that offering consistently good customer experience is a key competitive advantage. Look at automating the CX portion to enhance data capture and ensure consistency. You can apply this across the board, from collecting payment to following up on customer service queries. Automation is the best way forward, delivering on self-service capabilities and accelerating response times.
Agents too busy helping to serve customers
Many of the enquiries call centre agents manage are low-value, high-repetition tasks. To make the process more efficient these could move across to proactive self-service. Having many of these routine enquiries managed by call centre agents is not only expensive, it can create a bottleneck for customers trying to get issues resolved. Today, the majority of customers are happy to be guided through self-service technology to solve their own problems, if they have confidence the system understanding their needs.
This automation does not have to be sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI). Just making the way agents can communicate with brand followers more flexible. By moving to a text (SMS) based interface with customers, for instance, your contact centre team can work with multiple clients at once, which streamlines and speeds up the process.
Staff costs guzzling profits
Staff costs are one of the most significant in any call centre budget. Making the best possible use of this resource is paramount to ensuring your return on investment is maximised. To do this we advise an omnichannel approach, ranging from traditional voice, social media and low cost SMS, for example. This will allow customers to choose the channel they want to use. Reaching out to them on their preferred channel is also a way of keeping them engaged.
Using software to look after the main of your customer contact frees up agent time for critical or more complex issues where a human-link is essential or of benefit. This promotes consistent, quality CX, but also cuts back on costs as automation is less expensive than agent time.
Your call is important to us – we think!
The volume of inbound calls may be dipping, but customers often want to default to a human voice for complex or high-importance issue. When they do, ensuring you have the right staff to help is critical to ensuring the matter is resolved quickly and the customer goes away satisfied.
You can hold the reins here by encouraging customers to call specific numbers at the time you’re best able to help, e.g. at quieter times/end of shift. This ensures quicker response times and maximises efficiency.
The customer is still king
Being able to offer a consistently good customer experience is a very competitive advantage in today’s markets. Contact centre managers can’t ignore the transformation of call centres into dynamic, proactive customer engagement centres.
Proactive means delivering great customer experiences and winning long-term loyalty. It is about using technologies that empower and best serve the customer. It is about achieving that balancing act between team time and profitability.
The more customers benefit from an efficient and timesaving contact centre experience, the more likely they are to support your brand and buy your products and services.
John Duffy is Account Consultant at proactive customer outreach services leader VoiceSage
These issues John raises here are dealt with in more depth in this special VoiceSage and Engage webinar, available for free download here