Call center executives are constantly under pressure to find cost-savings. Yet, according to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), “acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.” The key takeaway is that you cannot skimp on customer service. So, how do you reduce costs while not damaging your customer service function? Investing in the right technology can go a long way in reducing costs while actually improving the overall quality of customer service. From effortlessly providing customer support in any language to managing staffing requirements as a result of call volume spikes, implementing the right technology can be transformational.
Author Archives: Drew Wilkinson
Certain commentators in the customer service space have been predicting the death of the call center. While it’s true that channel preferences are shifting, it would be incorrect to conclude that the voice channel will be buying the farm anytime soon. In fact, as we’ve argued before, phone calls are still essential to the success of customer service.
It’s true that self-serve options have become more effective at handling “easy” transactions: For example, large swathes of consumers use these online interfaces to track packages or confirm reservations. This means that when customers make a phone call, their queries are typically more complex and contentious. So, the stakes are raised, and it’s even more imperative that call centers exceed the expectations of customers.
To help with this, here are five things customers want (and expect) when they phone in to a call center.
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When it comes to contact center ‘best practices,’ the library runneth over: Hundreds of articles and reports have been written on the practical ways contact centers can reduce operating expenses without sacrificing quality. This is because senior management are typically reluctant to pump money into call centers, seeing them as a cost center and not a profit center. This in turn increases the pressure to identify ways to reduce cost. The challenge is that a majority of these “cost-reductions” lead to markedly poorer customer service quality. So, can you reduce contact center costs and improve customer service? To many contact center managers and executives, achieving this would be akin to finding the Holy Grail.
To achieve the kind of cost savings that truly impact the bottom line, contact center leaders need to reconsider the typical ho-hum tactics. Improving scripts and workflows to shorten calls will only get your organization so far. The answer? Invest in cost-saving technology that will reduce overheads and improve the quality of your customer care.
After graduating from university, I spent a sun-soaked 18 months living in Southern California. Having moved from Ireland, my family and friends back home were interested to hear what I liked and disliked about my new life “state side.” They did not expect to hear about my adoration for the supermarket chain Trader Joe’s, which happened to be conveniently located two blocks from my apartment.
I never considered trips to supermarkets to be transcendent experiences. So, why was I suddenly enjoying this erstwhile chore? It’s because Trader Joe’s (or “TJ’s” as it’s affectionately known) is no ordinary supermarket. It’s quirky. It’s affordable. It stocks good products. There is an essence of good vibes, partially attributable to the Hawaiian-shirt-attired employees and handwritten signs. Plus, when you’re in a crowded store after a long day of work, the friendly folks that work there lighten your mood.
I’m not the only TJ’s fan. In fact, there’s a dedicated fan club for people who are as equally smitten as me. TJ’s has also picked up some notable awards for customer experience, most recently ranking first among multichannel retailers in Forrester Research’s 2018 U.S. Customer Experience Index. So, how has TJ’s turned CX into its competitive advantage?
Have you encouraged a frustrated employee to stay positive after a particularly deflating customer interaction? If you have, you were tacitly acknowledging the importance of positivity in customer service.
When you boil it down, great customer service is about having a positive influence on the customer’s experience of your organization. If your own staff are feeling negative or pessimistic, it’s difficult for them to provide that highly positive experience.
The problem is that you can’t always be there to offer a few words of encouragement. So, how do you ensure the practice of positive psychology? Simply: By ensuring that elements of positive psychology are a part of how your organization operates. In case you aren’t familiar with the concept of positive psychology, here’s an abbreviated definition from the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania:
Positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive.
For most call centers, service level is a very important KPI.
It measures two parameters: 1) the availability of call center agents to assist customers; and 2) the speed with which agents resolve customer queries and concerns. Since any fluctuation in service levels can directly and significantly impact revenue, it’s understandable that call center executives are concerned with taking the necessary steps to consistently improve them. When it comes to service levels, leveraging the right technology can go a long way in improving declining service levels and, as a result, improve other important call center metrics such as CSAT.
Think a crisis will never happen to your brand? Think again.
2018 proved that reputation-damaging blunders are more prevalent than ever, their devastating effects amplified by the related complaints and commentary buzzing on social media. From Hawaii’s fake missile crisis to the death of a French bulldog aboard a United Airlines flight, many organizations have recently found themselves on the defensive, doing their best to mute negative conversations surrounding their brands. As Ashley McCown, president of PR firm Solomon McCown & Company, notes, “The longer the public has to wait for a response from a company or individual after a crisis, the harder it is to convince it that you’re taking the issue seriously.”
Call centers have become notorious for possessing one of the highest employee attrition rates of any industry. According to Talkdesk, call centers have a turnover rate ranging from 30 to 45 percent. This is a staggering number, given that the average employee turnover rate in 2015 for all industries in the United States was 16.7 percent.
This isn’t entirely surprising: Call centers are stressful work environments. Agents are required to deal with challenging, frustrated customers, with the knowledge that the calls (and their performance) are being monitored and timed. On top of this, a U.S. News Careers report found that customer service representatives suffer from below-average job flexibility.
We’ve previously discussed ways to combat agent burnout, but today we ask: What are the symptoms? How do we properly make an early diagnosis? Identifying the symptoms of burnout as soon as possible can significantly boost your service quality, workplace satisfaction, and bottom line. Continue reading →
‘Service level’ measures the accessibility of a company to their customers, and that company’s ability to manage call volume fluctuations and execute their staffing strategy. It is directly tied to customer service quality and is often a vital indicator of a contact center’s overall performance.
A declining service level can point to a number of issues: Poor scheduling; calls taking longer than expected; unplanned call fluctuations; and much more. On the other hand, if a contact center’s service level is improving, it’s usually a sign that the right technology, optimal agent scheduling, and accurate call planning are in place.
How can contact centers better manage their service levels? Leveraging the right technology can go a long way in improving a less-than-optimal service level and, as a result, the overall quality of customer service. From optimizing workforce management to enabling agent call-backs, managers and decision-makers who implement the right technology will reap the rewards.
Last week, Fonolo hosted an insightful live discussion on the future of BPOs. The expert panel discussed whether reshoring is a permanent trend, the impact of AI on BPOs, and so much more. To save you some time, we’ve extracted video snippets showcasing highlights from the discussion.