How to Improve Contact Centers & CX
Always-on consumers expect more from the companies with which they do business. And companies want to make the most of their interactions with consumers, maximize the value of their technology investments while minimizing the dollars they spend on them, and process customer inquiries quickly to control their own costs while meeting the needs of increasingly impatient customers.
Omnichannel contact centers that effectively employ the right tools and technologies can help businesses deliver on these promises. But businesses need to be sure they’re implementing the channels customers prefer, implementing strategies that consider the entire customer experience, and asking customers what they want and figuring out how best to deliver it when it makes sense.
Of course, the needs and desires of every contact center and customer are unique. But here are a few ideas on what you might consider as you’re creating strategies to allow for more efficient and engaging customer interactions.
The first is to put yourself in the shoes of your customers.
That should entail considering how long you’d be willing to wait for service; what kind of experience you would prefer; and what channels are probably the best to use during particular interactions, parts of those interactions, or times.
Call centers already tend to focus heavily on metrics like average handling time. But be sure these metrics are a true reflection of the total customer experience and that those who are reaching out to your business are actually getting what they want and need out of these interactions.
That said, do be sure to expedite processes whenever possible while keeping the customer experience in mind. For example, have a strategy in place to deal with peak contact center periods, so you have adequate resources at the ready. Use automation when possible to get customers to the right resources quickly (like optimized IVRs and skills-based routing), provide agents with the customer and product information they need to get the job done (like by integrating your call center with your CRM, and doing screen pops of relevant information), and efficiently wrap-up calls (using tools to automate the agent process of filling out forms) so customers can move on with their lives and agents can quickly move on to the next call.
But don’t just put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Also ask them directly what they want, and they work to deliver it. For example, companies should reach out to customers when they receive a lot of negative calls on something. But even if they don’t recognize such trends, they should seek input from customers.
As Monet Software’s (News - Alert) Chuck Ciarlo wrote in a November blog: “it is important to make it as easy as possible for customers to share feedback and complaints – and to be proactive and solicit their opinions, good or bad. This can be achieved anonymously online, through surveys sent via email, or on social media.”
That could include seeking feedback on a product or service itself. It could also include asking about what channels customers prefer to use – or would like to have the option of employing – when interacting with your company – and what their total customer experience has been in working with your company and how it might be improved.
“Omni-channel service … means giving your customer the option to choose a channel that works best for them, whether it’s voice, email, web chat, SMS, social messaging, or a mobile app,” explains Chris O’Brien of Aspect (News - Alert) Software in a June 13 blog.
However, just introducing new channels is not enough. Businesses also need to map the customer journey across all available channels, and continue to fine tune the cross-channel experiences they deliver to ensure for consistency and efficiency.
“The common thread involves keeping the customer on a journey that is as effortless as possible,” says O’Brien. “A consistent and seamless cross-channel experience helps turn routine interactions into strong customer connections.”
Applications like Messenger and WhatsApp should probably be among the channel options you ask about because they have such a large user base and are already linked with ecommerce due to their relationship with Facebook (News - Alert). And chat and messaging is a quick, easy, and usually immediate way to seek and receive answers.
That said, sometimes more complex interactions call for the use of other channels like email and voice. The report Cloud Contact Centers Gaining Share by 8x8 (News - Alert) Inc. and CCNG Contact Center & Customer Care Industry Professional Network indicates that with the exception of voice, 85 percent said email is the most widely adopted channel in the contact center, 50 percent said website-based communication is their top channel outside of voice. Next came chat, at 46 percent, and social media, at 37 percent.
Speaking of email, you may want to consider how to improve email processes, like handling customer emails through your CRM and/or by automatically sorting emails to filter out spam and prioritizing relevant email. Be sure to have the processes in place to ensure emails are addressed within a reason window of time – like a day or two, and enabling customers to easily transition from a webchat to email when the conversation becomes more complex.
Edited by Mandi Nowitz