Optimize Your Contact Center for Tomorrow's Savvy Customer
| Published: December 17, 2014 | Comments
Customers are more knowledgeable and perceptive than ever before. Simply put, they know what they want. And if they can’t get it from you, they’ll go somewhere else.
As the buying process has become more automated, customer interactions have also become less personalized – and social media has made consumer feedback immediate, public, and hugely influential, especially for the millennial customer
How can contact centers use this customer empowerment to their advantage? What can today’s centers do to prepare to work with these savvy customers, ensuring an outstanding customer interaction every time?
Technology and Automation on the Rise
Customers expect exceptional service. They want their questions answered correctly and on the first try, and they expect to be able to move between service channels without having to explain their situation multiple times to multiple different agents.
When moving between channels, customers expect agents to understand their issue and be skilled enough to handle the interaction quickly and accurately – all while providing a personalized experience.
This level of service requires contact centers to adopt technologies to automate various intraday activities, enabling them to overcome operational boundaries and become more productive and efficient overall.
A recent Call Center IQ report found that as contact centers look to the future, automated task management, real-time staffing, and automated channel balancing solutions will be in the forefront of contact centers looking to improve the customer experience.
Consistency is Key
Key to providing this heightened customer experience is consistency. Customers expect consistency in messaging across all channels.
For example, the FAQs on your website must be consistent with the information given to customers by agents on the phone, as well as through chat and e-mail. This level of consistency is accomplished through ongoing training and coaching. It’s extremely important that every department in the organization – not just the contact center – is on board with the same customer experience program, from top-level executives to the agents themselves. If not, the differences in messaging across channels will be apparent, and confusing, to your customer.
Contact centers must handle intraday challenges as well as performance and productivity initiatives with a more consistent process to optimize operations and better meet customer expectations.
Here are three keys to optimizing your contact center for today’s savvy customers:
#1: Consider the impact to the customer experience.
Before making any major decisions in regards to the contact center, consider the ultimate impact it will have on the customer experience.
Think about this: How would you react if your favorite airline suddenly changed its website and you had to spend an extra 10 minutes searching where to book your flight? When you couldn’t find what you needed and, then, when you finally found the customer service number and contacted the customer service center, you had to wait on hold? Or, you received a text message over chat that the center was experiencing increased volume and wait times would be longer than normal?
Customers don’t want to be surprised by a change that makes their lives more difficult.
If you are going to make a change – like a website redesign – make sure it will improve the user experience. Or, if you make changes to your customer service team, for example, make the changes with the customer experience in mind.
#2: Intentionally Evolve your Contact Center to Center Around the Customer.
There are many ways to improve the customer experience including:
No wait times. In any channel.
When call volume unexpectedly increases, so do wait times, which negatively affect customer service levels. Protect the customer experience by making sure customers always have an agent ready to handle their inquiry in whatever channel of communication they prefer.
Though many of today’s contact centers manually monitor and manage call volume and staffing, the trend is to automate this process so that staffing adjustments can be made in real time. The result is a reduction in wait time, or even no wait time at all. For multi-channel centers, customer demand needs to be monitored on each channel. If one channel experiences higher than normal volume, centers can automate the process of moving agents from queues with lower volume to alleviate excess demand in another channel.
Always offer up the most knowledgeable agent.
For effective customer service delivery, all communication channels must be manned by agents most qualified for that queue. Not only should agents be knowledgeable about your company’s products and services, but they should also have the right skills to effectively communicate in whatever channel they are working.
Create personalized agent development plans for your agents. Monitor key performance indicators and training completion rates and update agent skill levels so that customers are always interacting with an agent skilled to handle their interaction. If performance levels indicate that an agent is struggling with a particular product or service offering, you can pull that agent from handling these calls, automate assignments that will boost proficiency in that area, and upon recertification, automatically add those proficiencies to the agent’s skill level. By automating all of these processes, you can avoid potential negative customer experiences from happening.
Leveraging current technology, you should look to augment existing workforce management and queuing systems with intraday management tools. Doing so allows your center to monitor agent performance in real-time and automatically assign training to agents who need it, while also automatically updating queues as agents improve their performance and acquire new skills.
Treat your customers like VIPs.
As customers turn to the web and self-help options to answer basic questions and solve simple problems, agent interactions have increased in complexity. When agents receive escalations from other channels, they must be able to effectively handle these complex interactions accurately and efficiently.
If customers have to be transferred to another department, do it quickly. If you have a lot of transferred calls, evaluate why and prevent the problem from continuing to happen. Ensure your first point of interaction (thinks first call resolution metrics) really does address the customer’s needs. This makes them happy, and studies have shown that agents who are able to deliver on these needs on the first go-around are also more satisfied in their jobs.
#3: Find New Opportunities to be More Productive.
In order to provide top-tier customer service, agents must have the right information. This requires ongoing training and coaching, but time – as everyone knows – is a limited resource in the contact center.
Are there other manual processes in your center that can be automated? When have you last looked under the hood?
Automating contact center processes via intraday management technology can be utilized to find time for training and coaching during natural downtimes in call volume. Natural idle time is monitored in real time and harvested to create time for incremental training that can be completed at the agent’s desktop. When call volume unexpectedly spikes, agents are prompted to return to answering calls.
Not only are agents given the time they need to complete critical off-phone work that ultimately makes them better at their jobs, but frontline workforce adjustments can be made automatically and continuously throughout the day.
What about schedule adherence? Many times supervisors can become bogged down with manual procedures for managing exception processing and end up not spending enough face time with agents. But there are solutions that can automate these processes and free up valuable time for supervisors to help refine agent skills so that they can always deliver that excellent customer experience.
Though today’s customers may be more knowledgeable and savvy than ever before, the most proficient contact centers will maintain their advantage if they stay true to their focus on their customers, and, almost as importantly, on how their agents manage the interaction. Leveraging real-time intraday automation both delivers an operational gain and ensures their frontline workforce is prepared to provide a consistent and outstanding customer experience every time.
Intradiem is the leader in intraday automation solutions for multi-channel contact centres. Intradiem’s customers achieve an invincible customer experience with a real-time workforce by automating manual processes such as intraday task management, intraday staffing, reskilling, channel balancing, and real-time alerts. Intradiem empowers an immediate and consistent response to unpredictable events and changing conditions, resulting in labour savings, improved employee performance and a better overall customer experience. More than 200,000 contact centre, field service, retail, bank branch, and back office employees around the world use Intradiem’s solution every day.
For more information, call 888-566-9457 or visit www.intradiem.com.
Strategy & Planning
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