The modern customer is used to getting what they want, when they want it. With the entire internet in their pocket or purse, they can usually find the information they need in seconds. And if not, there are a multitude of communication channels at their disposal to find what they need. With email, chat, social media, and even video calls, today’s customers can pick and choose how to interact. This has led to customers becoming more independent, with many minor issues resolved before needing to speak to a live agent.
Research from UK-based Call Centre Management Association (CCMA) found that as a result of this change in customer behavior, contact centers now find that they are increasingly dealing with the more complex issues over the phone – often meaning customer service complaints. Frequently, teams can find themselves ill-equipped for these more complicated matters.
How do you adapt your contact center to meet changing customer needs while also observing best practices? On the one hand, you want your customers to be able to find the information they need independently. Self-service is not always a bad thing. But on the other hand, you need to make sure those issues that cannot be resolved through self-service are being handled by the contact center – quickly and in the best possible way.
Follow these tips to avoid falling customer satisfaction in your contact center.
1. Stop the Agent Maze
Don’t waste time sending your customer through multiple agents who can’t help them – all this achieves is frazzled agents and disappointed customers. Your contact center platform should support intelligent data-directed routing that automatically sends calls to the best possible agent. That could be the agent your customer spoke to last, an agent that has been assigned to handle issues of a particular variety, or an agent in a specific region. The ability to route customers to the right agent from the beginning, and avoiding complicated IVR systems or multiple transfers, sets leading contact centers apart from the rest.
2. Provide a Human Touch
Inflexible call scripts are a big issue when customer inquiries are more complex. Use integrated and customizable dynamic scripting to ensure that your agents have the appropriate response for any customer interaction, as well as access to the customer record with full cross-channel interaction history. A good script that adapts based on the customer’s information will ensure the percentage of successful calls is dramatically increased.
A dynamic script should give agents simple step-by-step guides for straightforward issues, but also provide “branching” scripts where necessary. Branching scripts offer a range of options for agents as they take customers through more complicated issues. Remember though, you are offering guiding principles and prompts rather than entire scripts - no one wants their agent to sound robotic.
3. Maximize Customer Self-service Potential
Frustrating IVR systems can result in poor customer experiences and a decline in customer satisfaction. However, customers are increasingly welcoming intelligent self-service options. Self-service channels should allow customers to quickly resolve minor issues without needing to speak to agents.
You should frequently review self-service options to identify and improve the sticking points around repetitive issues. You can include resolutions to certain issues in an FAQ on your website or instructional videos. You can also play personalized messages in call queues, such as a customer’s predicted delivery time. Customers should always be given the option of whether or not to use your self-service system and always provide the option to speak to an agent if they prefer.
4. Monitor Performance across the Board
You’re unlikely to get elements like intelligent routing, dynamic call scripts, or self-service in call queues right from the get-go. It’s important to monitor these channels and continually improve. Using waypoint reporting, you can tag points in your contact flow or call scripts to see where potential sticking points are occurring in real-time.
This shines a light on the points in your operations that could be damaging customer experience, for example if customers are getting stuck with a certain self-service option, or whether a certain message in a script is results in a higher customer satisfaction or resolution rates.
5. Encourage the Contact Center “Super Agent”
There will always be times when a customer wants to speak to an advisor, regardless of how intelligent your systems are. As customer issues become more complex, agents will need to be better trained and more highly skilled. After all, the agent’s skills, passion and determination are what drive customer satisfaction forward.
No longer do customers simply need call handlers; they need expert problem solvers. Make hiring great communicators part of your strategy. You may want to consider home workers too. It’s a straightforward option with a cloud based contact center and it immediately broadens the talent pool.
As skilled as your agents might be, they are pretty unlikely to have actual super human powers. Make sure you strongly support them with comprehensive training. According to a recent survey, the most important skills for agents to have are communication skills, followed closely by analytical skills, and product expertise.
With skilled communicators as agents, supported by the right training, best practices and technology, it’s entirely possible to subvert the downward trend in customer satisfaction that the CCMA has identified. Speak to one of our experts today to learn how you can deliver service experiences that wow customers.