Call centers are under a lot of pressure to deliver on consumer expectations while keeping costs contained. That central challenge was there even before social media, chat, and email showed up to complicate matters. Those alternate channels have taken some pressure off of voice calls, but the flip side of that is that the calls that do end up with an agent require more time and effort.
As a result, many companies still have long wait times to speak to an agent. If you don’t have the budget to staff up, another option you should consider is call-backs.
Simply put, replacing hold-time with a call-back is the closest thing to a “magic bullet” that you’ll find in the call center world. Call-backs make callers happier, and agents more efficient!
Watch Out for Brand Damage!
When it comes to consumer patience, the fuse is really short these days, especially if you put someone on hold. If hold times creep over the 5 minute mark, your social media timeline will start to show angry tweets. (You might want to look up your company on OnHoldWith.com? It might be an unpleasant surprise.)
Surveys regarding customer service complaints consistently show that “waiting on hold” is at the top of the list. Obviously, eliminating something the causes dissatisfaction, will lead to increased satisfaction. However you measure client happiness – NPS, repeat visits, repeat purchases – you are certain to see an improvement when call-backs are in place.
The “Other” Reasons to Add Call-backs
For some people, the improvement in customer satisfaction is reason enough to justify adding call-backs to your contact center. If that doesn’t get you “off the fence”, here are 3 more reasons to consider:
1) Reducing Abandon Rates
As hold times get longer, a larger fraction of callers will abandon, i.e. hang-up. An abandoned call can then become a repeat call (further straining the call center system) and, of course, a dissatisfied customer.
Call-backs reduce abandonment because, even if the total wait time is the same, a customer who has opted for a call-back is very unlikely to abandon. (Our own numbers show a 98% reconnection rate.)
2) Lower Cost
Call-backs can reduce contact center costs! When a caller is waiting on hold, there is a phone line being kept open, with per-minute telco costs accumulating. If that call is turned into a call-back, the line doesn’t have to be active until the agent is available.
3) Smoothing Out Spikes
Most call centers have some type of call volume spike. Some are predictable based on time-of-day or day-of-week. Some are unpredictable because they result from an external event, e.g. the network is down, a product got recalled, or a special promotion launched.
Spikes present a real challenge: If you staff to the peak volume, you will have excess agent capacity at other times. Call-backs also help “smooth-out” spikes in call volume by deferring calls (in a customer-friendly manner) till a time when there is excess agent capacity.
For more details on these reasons see:
- 3 Secrets to Successful Call-Backs
- The Do’s and Don’ts for Implementing Call-Backs in the Contact Center
- 7 Signs Your Call Center Needs a Call-Back Solution
Fonolo’s Approach to Call-Backs
Until recently, adding call-backs to your call center required installing hardware or software offered by the vendor of the call-center system. For example, Avaya sells CallBack Assist for its platform and Cisco sells Courtesy Callback for its platform.
Fonolo’s innovation was to make it easy to add call-back functionality to any existing call center by pursuing a cloud-based platform-agnostic approach.
For more details on picking a solution, see “Make Call-Backs a Priority”. That post includes 6 key questions that you should ask your vendor before deciding.
What if Your Platform has a Call-Back Option?
Many platforms have at least some form of call-back functionality. If your platform has this option, use it! By all means, you should experiment with call-backs, especially if there is no added cost.
But even in the case where there is a free option, the Fonolo approach has advantages. It’s tempting to just go with the built-in back feature, but there are several potential downsides to consider:
- If you change platforms in the future, you will have to start over. (As a bonus: having call-backs in place from a 3rd party during a platform transition is great way to mitigate any hiccups that might occur.)
- If you have a multi-site or multi-platform scenario, you will need to configure each call-back solution separately.
- If you send some of your calls to a BPO/outsourced call center, the call-back strategy won’t extend to those calls.
- If you’re looking for a feature rich product with intelligent reporting features, turning on a module in your current platform likely won’t provide that.
By replacing hold-time with a call-back, your callers get a more pleasant experience and the call center gets a more efficient operation. It’s a rare “win-win” for your customer service operation. Sign up for a live demonstration to learn more.