Just because your contact center isn’t being overridden with calls, doesn’t mean your customers don’t have anything to complain about. The chances are they do, but are busy telling others about it instead.
Why aren’t your customers approaching you directly to talk about their problems, you might ask? The likelihood is that your contact center isn’t offering the best experience, and while you might have your customers’ best interests at heart you could be driving them away.
Here are four reasons why customers aren’t calling your contact center
1. They can’t find the number to call.
If you’re a company that likes to promote online channels of communication rather than the phone, your contact helpline number is probably buried away somewhere on your website, or maybe not displayed at all. This is an all-too-obvious reason why your lines are feeling empty.
The truth is that customer service should be all about choice. By making one or more channels a non-option for customers, you risk the chance of aggravating them even more than they already might be.
The answer is simple. Make sure your phone number (or several phone numbers, for different departments) is clearly visible on your website and all literature.
Virgin Media is one company whose website offers clear-cut advice on a range of customer issues, without hiding its customer service number. Customers can select their main issue from the menu, after which they are presented with a list of informative articles as well as the option to ‘Call us’. This simple structure gives the customer the option to help themselves, but lets them know the company is there to help.
2. They’re made to wait too long when they DO call.
Waiting on hold for a significant period only reduces your customers’ willingness to call again in the future. It also makes them likely to just hang up before an agent has had the chance to help.
The key here normally lies in hiring enough staff to take on the demand of your contact center so that no customer has to wait longer than 30 seconds (the industry standard). However, this can be costly for some businesses and is certainly not a sure fix – failing to properly train a dozen new recruits will only lead to more unhappy customers.
Dwayne Weppler of Intelliresponse suggests analyzing the phone conversations of hundreds of contact center agents. Identify the key components of a typical conversation; understand common themes and focus on these as the core elements of your training.
Better skilled agents means a faster resolution time, and this means shorter waiting times for the rest of your callers. Call centers also turn to virtual queuing as another solution. The idea that the caller can request a call-back instead of waiting on hold eliminates the need for call centers to staff up.
3. Your agents are poorly equipped or unhelpful.
This ties in with the previous point and primarily relates to training. However, there can be other factors getting in the way of your reps providing good service, such as communication barriers or a lack of empowerment.
Take a good, long look at the structure and practices of your contact center. Are your agents empowered and encouraged to make brave or risky decisions, for the good of the customer? Or are they bound hopelessly by rules and policies?
Also, if you outsource some of your agents from a third party contact agency (or are considering it), you need to make sure you do it right. We may be living in an increasingly PC world, but language barriers can be a major obstacle for some customers and will lower the chances of first-call resolution (FCR).
4. Customer inquiries are not resolved right away.
As a customer, calling a contact center really isn’t regarded as the most joyous of activities. Once they do make the choice to call, the ideal situation is that their problem will be resolved quickly so they can get on with their day.
However, sometimes things don’t always go as planned, and when this happens the customer can become irate at having to wait for a resolution. This is why FCR is such a crucial measurement in any contact center and should be your main goal.
All in all, the faster you can come to your customers’ rescue, the more grateful and impressed they will be. Take the time to seek feedback after each and every interaction to see what your customer thought of their experience, and note patterns in repeat interactions (why did these occur? What were the underlying problems?). It’s important to make the feedback process as quick and easy as possible (for example, a quick rating scale via email or text message on various aspects of your service).
You may only need to take action on one of these points before seeing an improvement in your customer satisfaction rates. Just know that with each and every complaint your business is becoming a bigger, better and all-round stronger brand.
Guest Blogger: Adele Halsall
Adele is the head content writer at Customer Service Guru. She has a wealth of experience in consumer services and customer experience trends, and regularly contributes articles to many of the customer experience industry’s leading sites. Tweet her @gurucustomers or follow Customer Service Guru on Google+.
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