The modern call center has come a long way, as companies embrace technology to streamline the process of providing telephone-based customer service.
And yet, call centers are still plagued by the same, all-too-familiar problems: confusing IVRs, long hold times, and the need to repeatedly ask customers for information. No matter how much organizations try to improve customer service, a single one of these complaints can torpedo their interaction with customers.
Let’s have a look at the top 3 call center complaints you (and your callers) want to avoid:
1. Confusing IVRs
To some extent, complicated phone menus are a byproduct of a company’s success, in that large call centers often support a wide range of products and services. However, asking callers to narrow their selection via the IVR can be exhausting. Once callers reach the limit of their patience, many simply “zero out”, looking for the quickest way to reach an agent. (Even the wrong agent can be a welcome change from the monotony of the phone menu). For companies that do have lengthy IVRs, a surefire way to frustrate customers further is messaging that tells callers to “listen carefully as our menu has changed”. (Not only is it insulting, it’s usually not true.)
The reality is that there’s really no excuse for asking callers to jump through so many hoops to reach an agent. IVRs should be clear, concise, and offer a small range of choices. Customers want to talk to an agent, not a phone menu. (And there should always be self-serve options for the ones who don’t.)
For companies that cater to customers on the web and mobile, one option is to allow customers to narrow their selections online before making a call. For example, using Web Call-Backs (formerly Visual IVR) allows customers to navigate menus more quickly, in advance of a call.
2. Long Hold Times
Clearly, companies don’t set out to put their customers on hold. The reality is that it’s difficult to balance staffing levels with fluctuating call volumes. Even when companies get it right, a single hiccup – be it a product issue, or call center staff with the flu – can wreak havoc with service levels.
Most callers will tolerate some degree of hold time, however beyond a certain threshold they’ll resent the experience. While some will hang-up, others will publicly vent about it, tarnishing a company’s reputation. Worst of all, when regularly subjected to lengthy hold times, many customers will simply go elsewhere. It’s no secret that many companies regard customer experience as a competitive differentiator, and will happily attract customers looking to defect from their current service provider.
One option for companies looking to reduce hold times is to employ a call-back solution. Call-backs can defer calls until volumes are more manageable, allowing companies to smooth out volume spikes and make more efficient use of call center resources.
3. Repeating Information
Another place where companies often fall short is data integration in the call center. This can be due to a lack of interoperability between proprietary call center infrastructure, or simply the result of outsourcing calls to a third-party call center. Whatever the cause, customers who are stuck repeating their information to multiple agents couldn’t care less about call center infrastructure. What they care about is how frustrating the experience is.
With the current technologies available to call centers, there’s no reason every company can’t successfully integrate their CRM and telephony systems. After all, cost-cutting shouldn’t come at the expense of lost customers.