BPA Featured Article

6 Things Your Call Center Must Include

By Blaise McNamee, Web Editor
January 08, 2014

In today’s connected world of smartphones, social media, text messaging, and Web browsing, customers have never been more vocal – and ears have never been more willing to listen.  Contact centers thus may feel lost in the sea of new digital customer touchpoints and interaction avenues.  Staying ahead of these trends is critical to successful customer service, and technology plays a large part in catering to these evolving needs.

There are several solutions out there for businesses to leverage, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Nevertheless, at the very least, be sure your contact center technology includes the following:

1. Multichannel Capabilities

You might have guessed this from the first paragraph alone.  Communication means much more than the telephone nowadays, and customers want to be able to reach companies through whatever channel these choose, whether it be email, webchat, social media, SMS, or otherwise.  Moreover, more customers than ever actually prefer to use these alternative digital channels, meaning your call center must be ready to respond when they do.  Establishing a multichannel presence and integrating these technologies into your call center is thus critical to maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction.

2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Tied to the multichannel call center is customer relationship management (CRM) technology.  It is important not only that you efficiently respond to your customer’s inquiries and requests, but also that you track and understand their relationship with your company.  In fact, absent this knowledge, effectively responding to customer service requests is nearly impossible.  Beyond that, however, a powerful CRM platform incorporates customer data from all channels, creating an informative customer profile that can be presented to agent the next time the customer reaches out.  If properly integrated, each customer will be treated to a highly personalized experience that takes all of their previous interactions, stated preferences, and buying habits into consideration, making satisfaction all the more attainable.

3. Self Service Options

Let’s face it.  In many cases, having to talk to a customer service representative alone is enough to turn a customer off.  They may dislike confrontation, be uncomfortable with telephone interaction, or may simply have an issue that is far too small to necessitate such an inquest.  For these reasons, it is important that your call center offer self-service alternatives that allow them to address issues on their own, should they be simple enough to tackle.  Things like intelligent IVR (interactive voice response), online self-service portals (like FAQs or troubleshooting guides), or automated account management can both make these phone-wary customers happy and deflect less complex, non-urgent calls away from busy agents, freeing your contact center to more thoroughly handle more pressing matters.

Image via Shutterstock

4. Social Media Monitoring

Of course, it isn’t enough to simple be available online and on social media.  You must establish a presence.  Vocal brand detractors have been proven to have a substantial impact on their followers on social media, a far more considerable one than promoters.  The world of Twitter and Facebook (News - Alert) is a jungle, however, and it can be difficult to know when and where to interact with customers.  This certainly doesn’t help when you’re trying to identify and respond to customer issues as fast as possible. Fortunately, social media monitoring solutions exist that are designed to help you locate and engage customers that mention your brand (in both positive and negative contexts), ensuring that your customers stay happy and that your reputation goes unmarred (perhaps even improved).

5. Call Monitoring and Reporting

 Customer service can be a big drain on company resources.  The infrastructure and manpower required can be rather expensive in the long run.  Of course, the purpose of it all is to retain existing customers and attract new ones, ultimately justifying such expenditures.  It follows, then, that you’d want your call center to be as efficient as possible.  Collecting and analyzing performance metrics are thus critical to assuring an efficient use of company resources.  Call monitoring and reporting solutions are specifically designed to help provide actionable feedback for managers and agents, indentifying strengths, weaknesses and best practices in the call center.  With such technology, companies can expect lower call volumes, lower call times, better first call resolution, high sales and retention rates, and higher customer satisfaction all around.

6. Data Analytics

Perhaps something of a bonus, but there is valuable data to be had from these interactions.  The contact center is a great place to learn about your customers, but the only way you can do that is through robust data collection and analytics solutions.  Indeed, voice recording and text analytics can go a long way toward identifying customer trends that can help shape overall company strategy, let alone customer service practices.  With such technology in place, a contact center becomes not simply a tool for correcting mistakes, but rather a source of valuable market insight.

There is clearly more to contact centers than just putting out fires, underscoring the need for robust technological solutions.  The contact center offers a variety of valuable opportunities to engage with your customer base, which should not be lightly dismissed.  To get the most out of your customer service efforts, be sure your contact center is capable of all of the above.

Edited by Alisen Downey