Customers view your business as a single person. They expect that if they contacted the call center yesterday, you’d know all about it — even if they engaged with a different agent then. Treat customers as unique individuals whose business you value. It makes the difference between a happy customer and one who’s willing — and ready — to move to your competition.
By keeping the focus on customer satisfaction, there’s a lot you can do to make sure customers feel the love.
- Minimize Hold Times
Take a different perspective to solving average handle time problems: When handled quickly, a customer complaint also becomes a touchpoint for profit. A study by Harvard Business Review found that customers whose complaints are handled in less than five minutes spend more money with you on future purchases. While customers prefer to self-serve, traditional IVRs force them to go through a maze of menus and options. Even after routing, they often wait in a queue for the next available agent — or they’re instructed to try back during regular office hours. This delayed approach to problem resolution erodes customer satisfaction.
Artificial intelligence (AI) eliminates many of these issues. AI better handles tasks that human agents managed. It significantly reduces administrative overhead and increases the effectiveness, allowing fewer employees to serve customers quickly.
- Invest in Tools for Your Agents
Call volumes are dropping but those calls are becoming more difficult — and your agents have to handle them. Speaking with an agent is often the last resort of a frustrated customer. And even as agents deal with these tough situations, they’re still trying to meet SLAs, figure out which solutions are appropriate and keep customers coming back.
Your employees show what they’re worth during these engagements. Improve their well-being at work and give them the tools they need to succeed. For example, increasingly complex call centers require employees to work with multiple communication channels and customer touchpoints. According to a DestinationCRM article on unified desktops, Ventana Research reports that 44% of contact center agents need to access three or more applications to resolve a single customer issue. Adding more customer issues could increase the applications they need to 20. An omnichannel desktop eliminates this complexity and puts relevant information at the agent’s desktop.
- Make Agent Training Relevant
Tech-savvy Millennials and iGen agents want next-generation training methods. Logging out of their computers to join a standard classroom doesn’t fit into the way they work. A more efficient approach is to send training to workers’ cell phones or provide more visual or video-based content, instead of PDFs and Q&A documents. You also could insert training automatically onto agent desktops for them to access when there’s a lull in call volume.
Think of this scenario: an employee ends a tough call with a disgruntled customer, but then sees a 35-second video pop-up to prep for the next call — with additional training offered over the next several days. Customized training methods like this empower employees for future calls. By improving speed-to-competency for new and existing employees, you’ll have engaged employees who are more productive and more likely to create positive customer experiences.
- Put Bots Front and Center
Agents don’t need to be the first point of interaction for customers. A traditional voice interaction, on average, costs $15 per interaction. An AI-powered virtual assistant can cost under $1. Automating interactions within a virtual assistant not only improves first-time resolution, it controls costs. And during hours when your business is closed, bots stay on the front lines to offer instant resolutions with 24-hour support, including scheduling customer callbacks during business hours, if needed.
When you implement bots, be sure that bot technology doesn’t degrade the customer experience. Bots should be an extension of the service you provide to customers. But designing them for complete containment is shortsighted and sets you up for failure. Think of frustrating IVR menus that lead nowhere.
At some point, your customers might want to talk to an agent. Bots that seamlessly hand off to an agent keep the experience focused on the customer — without a break in the interaction. You might also want certain customers to go directly to an agent and have the bot as a backup. Being iterative is a primary benefit of AI, as your bots continue to learn about the customer experience.
- Share Data Across Systems
Call center integration empowers you to track connections and add context to better understand your customers, your operations and your outcomes — across all apps. Whether they’re using a self-service or an assisted-service channel, customers want a seamless, personalized experience. And they’re increasingly comfortable sharing their data to get that experience. Through insights gained from shared data, previous interactions, and personas based on demographics or customer preference, you can highly personalize interactions.
Expanding and integrating other resources, outside of the contact center, requires different tools. You also must ensure that customer interactions are handled seamlessly to blend with other employee activities. For example, sales reps on the road should be able to take calls while driving, but they also must be able to qualify and enter information in the CRM system after the interaction ends — when they arrive at the office or at home. With the ongoing shift toward the customer experience as the primary brand differentiator, savvy businesses will harness insights to improve interactions and strengthen their positions.
Build Your Business on Customer Satisfaction
Call centers are complex; they require modern technologies that are staffed by tech-savvy agents ready to serve demanding customers. Something’s gotta give. Focus on customer satisfaction, rather than simply reducing costs, to win long-term customer loyalty. Understand what your customers want, take care of your employees and explore the benefits of AI for your business.