Call centers and customer support are evolving at an incredible rate to keep up with customer demand, and 2018 will be no exception. As more brands acknowledge the value of call centers in growing revenue and retaining customers, your own customers’ expectations of service quality will follow suit. From the technology we use to interact with customers to the treatment of agents and callers, get ahead of your competition in 2018 with our list of call center dos and don’ts.
DO explore AI and cognitive technologies
Brand investments in AI and cognitive technologies within call centers are growing (a 2016 Business Insider survey showed that 80% of respondents want to implement some form of chatbot by 2020)—and for good reason. Bots provide tremendous value to growing companies by routing low-level calls and messages away from your agents, allowing them to focus on more urgent, complicated, or sensitive customer requests. This can save costs in training, personnel, and overhead, depending on how your call volume and drivers break down.
DON’T push your agents to the side
AI is not an alternative to live agents. It’s best used as a support tool for your team, so embrace a hybrid workforce that incorporates both. Bots are great tools for standardized, simpler tasks like assisting with product information and availability, answering policy questions, or business hours. More complex inquires, especially ones dealing with private personal information, still need to be handled by a live person.
DO pay attention to employee happiness scores
Yes, high turnover in your call center can negatively impact staffing costs (each individual turnover can cost a company over $6,000), but don’t overlook the cost to your customer experience and satisfaction. Losing knowledgeable agents can mean longer talk and hold times, increased pressure on your other agents, and more frustrated customers as new agents get up to speed. To keep employees happy at work, think about extending financial wellness programs, appreciation events, call center environment, and improved work/life balance to employees.
DON’T make changes without getting employee feedback
Employees will tell you what they want if you ask. Initiating engagement programs without feedback or understanding the level of employee interest costs you both time and money. You also risk looking out of touch by your employees. Find out what’s keeping your employees up at night and see if there’s a way your company can help.
DO invest in user-friendly online experiences
The demand for chat, mobile apps, and self-service portals is rising. 73% of millennials prefer self-serve options and 66% of consumers overall would rather message support than call. If you’re planning to invest in chatbots, online experiences are a great deployment use and would align two major customer satisfaction strategies.
DON’T discount personalized services and support
Each digital interaction leaves behind a “breadcrumb”, small bits of customer data that can tell companies a whole lot about their behavior, demographics, needs, and wants. Using this data to route customer support calls can help companies provide easy, frictionless service that makes their purchasing decisions simpler and talking to customer service more pleasant.
DO expand your analysis capabilities
Sophisticated and real-time data analytics can help you identify reoccurring issues in your processes and services. Better analytics means more constructive feedback to your agents and decreasing inefficiencies for your company. You can pinpoint your most popular communication channels and re-staff or re-prioritize accordingly. Making informed changes across your call center operations to remove points where your customers are most frustrated shows them that you listen and care about their experience.
DON’T overlook call recording and monitoring
New technology is addictive, fun, and makes our work lives easier. While deep analytics are great for assessing long-term improvement, call monitoring and recording still reigns supreme for understanding agent performance. Big data can show you a call was resolved, but listening in will show you how it was resolved. Demeanor, empathy, tone, word choice, and rapport all impact the way customers perceive a call’s effectiveness and success.
Not every change listed here is appropriate for every brand. Whatever changes you implement this year, be certain they’re thoughtful and well executed on.