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24/7 customer care and the cost-of-living crisis

18th Aug 2022
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As the cost-of-living crisis continues, businesses should be going the extra mile to ensure their customers feel supported should they face financial difficulty. This will become particularly important for utilities providers and financial organisations as customers may unfortunately experience problems with payments as many personal finances take a hit.

Offering 24/7 customer care is one way of supporting customers through the cost-of-living crisis as it allows access to guidance and assistance whenever customers need it. This is necessary, as research shows that many customers don’t feel listened to or supported to by businesses when contacting customer services. According to the July 2022 UKCSI report from the Institute of Customer Service, 11% of customers said the organisation they dealt with failed to respond to their personal needs and situation.

24-hour customer care teams need to be prepared to support and identify those customers that will be vulnerable to repayment or financial difficulties. Failing to accommodate these customers will not only negatively impact the customer, but it can also affect a business’s reputation. According to the UKCSI report, for customers who suffer from poor financial, mental, or physical well-being, the impact of an organisation failing to respond to personal needs is reflected in their overall satisfaction. These customers’ average satisfaction of 45.4 is 37.4 points lower than similar customers who dealt with an organisation that understood and responded to their personal needs.

Evidently, if businesses are to provide 24-hour customer care they need to ensure that team members are adequately equipped to effectively deal with any customer concerns to avoid leaving customers feeling isolated and any reputational damage to the business.

The benefits of implementing 24-hour care

It may seem daunting implementing 24-hour customer service as there are multiple factors to take into consideration, from staffing and technology to cost. However, when done right, the business benefits outweigh any difficulties experienced when implementing the system.

By amplifying the customer service offering, businesses can benefit from increased sales and improved customer retention. Unsurprisingly, ensuring that no customer is left feeling ignored makes customers much more likely to use a business again. With research by Salesforce suggesting that just a 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as cutting costs by 10%, the benefits of providing customers what they want is undeniable.

How to establish 24-hour customer care

Implement the appropriate technology

24-hour customer care is largely dependent on digital communications, particularly through the night. Tools like chat bots can help to ease the workload for human operators, making 24/7 care more efficient and cost-effective. This means chat bots will become increasingly necessary to make sure customers are catered for when a representative is unavailable.

Provided customers have a direct route to a human operator should they need to speak to one, chat bots can be a great first point of contact and can often resolve simpler queries quickly, helping to cut down wait times for customers who have a more complex issue. 

Invest in training

When onboarding new staff, training needs to be more extensive than simply training them on features and product-specific questions as it is likely that concerns will be of greater importance as the cost-of-living crisis continues.

Customer service representatives need to be trained on how to identify and support customers that are experiencing financial difficulties. They should be able to communicate support plans and practical advice to help customers struggling with payments. In-depth training should be provided to all staff, while regular catch-up sessions will help representatives maintain the knowledge. Recording and monitoring phone calls will highlight any issues with call quality and establish where further training is necessary.

Introduce outsourcing

The quickest way to scale up to 24/7 customer care is outsourcing labour. Hiring a trained, expert team that can work effectively from their first day means businesses can swiftly begin providing enhanced support to customers which is particularly important in a crisis.

It also reduces the workload of the current team. It is unlikely that existing customer service teams will have the capacity to scale up to 24/7 care. Introducing an outsourced team will reduce the pressure on current employees to change their schedules and workload.

As many UK customers are experiencing their purse strings tightening, now is the perfect time for businesses to implement 24-hour customer care. Providing this continual support will improve customer relationships and assure customers that the organisation is there in their time of need. Whilst the priority is benefiting the customers themselves, businesses can also enjoy increased customer retention and repeat sales from bettering their customer service.

To find out more about how to make the switch to 24/7 customer care please visit: https://fmoutsource.com/

 

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