When it comes to replacing hold-time with a call-back, we often talk about the perspective of the caller. That’s a logical angle to take, given how important the customer experience is. For example, it’s important that the announcement of a call-back offer be consistent with the other parts of a company’s IVR. Today’s post examines the other side of this interaction: the agent’s perspective on call-backs. We’ll also look at a really important issue with call-backs: the “customer-waits” vs. the “agent-waits” approach.
These topics were prompted by questions I got during two events that happened this past week. At Call Center Week Canada I gave a presentation called “How one Company Used Call-backs to Increase Customer Loyalty” (deck is available here). Then I presented “Are you Losing Customers to Hold times?” as a Fonolo webinar (available on demand here).
Happier Callers Means Better Calls
The one thing agents tell us, more than anything else, is that callers who get to use a call-back instead of waiting on hold are friendlier and more agreeable than average. Anyone who has worked as an agent, or managed them, knows that it can be a stressful job. Making the calls a bit more pleasant for the agents has a positive impact on their morale and efficiency. Furthermore, data shows that having happier callers leads to a shorter average handle time, a metric that many call center managers watch closely.
“Agent-Waits” vs. “Customer-Waits” Call-Backs
Some call-back systems operate on a “customer-waits” basis, which can be problematic. Let’s walk through the timeline to get the picture.
Step 1: Customer calls a company and hears an offer to get a call-back instead of waiting on hold.
Step 2: Customer accepts the offer and hangs up. Their place in queue is held by the call-back system and they go about their day.
Step 3: An agent is ready and we need to connect the waiting customer. In the “customer-waits” approach, the system calls the customer back when it’s almost their turn. The hope is that the agent will be available very soon after the customer answers. But if not, then the customer is back on hold! Predictably, this cancels out a lot of the goodwill that a call-back option is supposed to generate.
In contrast, Fonolo uses the “agent-waits” approach. When it’s time for step 3, Fonolo waits until an agent is actually on the line before placing the call-back to the customer. This way there’s always a live agent ready for the customer.
Maintain Context Throughout the Customer Journey
The flip side of an “agent-waits” approach is that, as the name implies, the agent has to wait while the phone rings. Surprisingly, agents don’t see this as a negative. Instead, what we hear from agents is that, while the phone is ringing on the customer side, they use that short time to read the screen pop and get up-to-speed on the issue. This makes them even more prepared to handle the call.
That preparedness is another contributor to a pleasant and efficient call. Many studies (such as this one) tell us that callers really hate “repeating information” to agents. So it is critical to “maintain the context” throughout the customer journey. This is as true for a call-back system as it is for any part of your call center.
Fonolo has several ways to ensure that the context is intact for the agent conversation: SIP headers, IVR automation, agent whisper and more. See the “How it Works” page for more information.
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