It is no secret that delivering a positive and enjoyable customer experience is crucial these days. In fact, experts predict that customer experience will become the sole differentiator that customers use when making decisions by 2020. With so much focus on creating the perfect customer experience, many contact centers find themselves struggling with operational efficiency and a negative impact on their bottom line. Is quantity or quality more important in a contact center? The truth is both are essential, but finding the balance between the two is a process.
The continued struggle
There was a time when success was measured by the number of calls a contact center could work through each day. Unfortunately, while contact centers were proud of their ability to manage calls, chats, and texts, customers can feel rushed and unimportant. When customers don’t feel valued, they are quick to move their business elsewhere, which cost U.S. businesses $1.6 million.
This data is forcing more contact centers to shift their focus to delivering an enjoyable experience. What contact centers struggle with most during this approach is that agents spend more time on one call and handle fewer calls in a given day. In some cases, these results in customers waiting on hold for a lengthy amount of time, becoming angry, and taking their business elsewhere.
To see continued success, businesses need to find a balance between efficiency and customer experience. Here are eight ways:
- Gain a 360-degree view of customers
If your contact center doesn’t currently collect data across all communication channels, you are missing valuable information. Customer interaction analytics software automatically gathers data from all channels and compiles it into one central database. Managers can use the data to uncover trends in customer experience by identifying preferred communication channels, reasons for contacts, customer expectations, and areas of improvement to increase contact center efficiency.
- Hire the right team
No amount of data can help you if you don’t have the right contact center agents in place. Take your time when recruiting and interviewing new agents to assure they have a personality that places the contact center is a positive light with customers. Consider a multi-step interview process where potential agents meet with multiple leaders in your contact center in addition to using open-ended questions to encourage conversation.
- Set expectations
Creating expectations for your contact center agents is a crucial step in balancing CX and efficiency. Agents need to understand how you assess performance and why you have certain expectations. It is also the responsibility of management to adequately train them and provide them with the necessary tools to meet these expectations. The more contact center agents understand why they less likely they are to navigate off-course later on.
- Staff the appropriate number of agents
Not having enough contact center agents readily available to answer calls during high-volume times hinders both CX and efficiency. Use call history records to better understand call volumes. Do calls spike at certain times or on certain days of the year? Are they directly related to new product releases?
Reviewing past data helps you prepare for the future. Consider hiring additional agents or having agents “on-call” that can work from home during peak hours so you can continue to meet customer expectations while being efficient.
- Embrace active listening
Active listing is a vital component of any successful customer service call. Educate contact center agents on the importance of being quiet while the customer explains the reason for this call. During this time, the agent should be focused entirely on the customer and not attempt to multi-task.
Not only does it give the customer the time they want to discuss their frustration, but it also makes it easier for an agent to solve the frustration.
- Communicate effectively
Customers contact you because they want to be heard. Part of knowing an agent is listening is having the agent effectively communicate what they are doing while the customer is waiting, what the next steps are, and what the final expectation is. When agents can communicate effectively, customers are less likely to have an unfavorable view of your brand when the call is over.
- Confirm satisfaction
Prior to an agent ending a customer service call, they should verbally confirm the customer is satisfied with the outcome. Be verbally confirming this; you are reducing the number of callbacks for the same problem and increasing your first call resolution (FCR) rates.
- Utilize automated scorecards
Using a call monitoring scorecard system is one of the best tools to improve contact center efficiency. It uses predefined performance metrics to grade every customer service call by listening and recording the conversation. During the call, it listens for keywords or phrases, silence time, and voice pitch to grade the agent’s performance.
The information shared on the scorecard identifies areas of weakness the agent needs to improve as well as areas of strength. Managers can use this information to provide personalized training to help the agent. Agents can use it to make changes to their conversations immediately.
Striking a balance between customer experience and efficiency takes time and consistency. However, when contact centers find the balance, they see growth through a loyal customer following, reduced attrition expenses, and happier agents.