When it comes to contact center operations, there is always room for improvement. Perhaps your organization can build better agent training and coaching programs, or more accurately measure customer sentiment. You may lack an effective knowledge base, integrated omnichannel capabilities, or a conversation intelligence platform that enables you to capture and analyze 100% of customer interactions. Optimizing your contact center operations may seem like a daunting task; however, every step in the right direction counts. Ensuring quality customer experiences has never been more important, and every successful CX strategy begins at your organization’s frontline: the contact center.
In this blog, we break down seven tips and best practices for improving CX in the contact center. From safely reducing average holding time, to picking the right metrics for tracking call center performance, these insights offer an outline for improvement.
1. Upgrade your information arsenal
Arming call center agents with a comprehensive, easily accessible knowledge base is an essential step in onboarding new agents, improving customer experiences, and cutting operational costs. A customer-facing knowledge guide can also help reduce call volume by providing answers to common questions.
When it comes to the process of creating, managing, and evaluating an effective knowledge base, call center managers have a lot to consider. To begin, you must decide what information will enable your agents to provide the best quality customer service. Resources such as employee protocols, product information, training materials, and guides to solving common problems can help optimize agent performance. These materials should be updated frequently to ensure information is both up-to-date and useful. You can gauge the effectiveness of your knowledge base by measuring ticket time-to-resolution and soliciting agent feedback on which materials are most helpful.
Perhaps the most important aspect of any effective knowledge base is accessibility. Agents need immediate, specific insights – not a library of intractable information. Create a search engine for your knowledge base and utilize bold headers, images, and direct next steps to ensure agents are equipped for success.
2. Overcome the omnichannel challenge
Today’s customers expect the ability to interact with your brand across a range of communication channels. Depending on personal preference and the nature of their query, customers may reach out via an email, a chat, or a phone call to your contact center. By measuring the length of response times in each channel, your organization can pinpoint which channels customers utilize most frequently and balance resources accordingly. It might be important to extend your omnichannel engagement to modern contact channels such as social media and automated chatbots. By meeting customers on the channel of their choosing, organizations simplify the customer service process and boost customer satisfaction.
While it is essential to develop capabilities for multiple contact channels, true omnichannel customer engagement entails both cross-channel integration and a high level of personalization. Poorly integrated omnichannel engagement forces customers to repeat information at several touchpoints before their issue is properly addressed. Organizations must work to mitigate technology gaps between channels, ensure an even distribution of agents across channels, and actively utilize information gathered from customers in past interactions.
3. Equip call center agents for success
Average handle time can be a misleading call center KPI. While a reduced AHT can cut organizations’ operating costs, this benefit can come with a cost of its own. Rushing customers off the phone or failing to resolve their problems leads to customer dissatisfaction and churn.
By optimizing agent performance and workforce efficiency, organizations can reduce average handling time organically. The process begins by training agents to assist customers quickly and effectively. Consistent coaching combined with real-time guidance are also important factors for improving agent performance, rates of first call resolution, and customer satisfaction. Next, organizations must consider how to streamline their call center operations. Do agents have easy access to the knowledge base they need? Are customers routed to the right agent to limit hold times and transfers? Can administrative tasks be automated? These best practices are vital to ensuring successful, concise interactions with customers. The easiest way for organizations to optimize their contact center performance is to employ conversation intelligence software. By analyzing every channel of customer contact, organizations discover and eliminate patterns of inefficiency.
4. Balance your customer feedback collection
Listening to customers is essential to improve your organization’s customer experience, but burdening customers with endless requests for feedback can have the opposite effect. Understanding how often to collect feedback is just as important as knowing how to go about collecting it.
Weekly CSAT surveys can generate effective feedback so long as you poll different customers every time. Asking the same customers to complete more than one or two surveys a year will increase quit rates from your survey list and reduce the quality of responses. To survey proactively, organizations can reach out to customers 30 days after a purchase to ensure satisfaction or respond to complaints.
Feedback can also be collected immediately after call center interactions while experiences with your brand are fresh in customers’ minds. Finally, conversation intelligence tools enable organizations to source feedback automatically by capturing and analyzing every channel of customer contact. Uncovering the roots of your customer experience is the key to understanding how your brand is viewed. To avoid the pitfalls of feedback collection, combine solicited, immediate, and automatic feedback strategies.
5. Select and measure the right call center KPIs
One key metric contact centers use to measure performance is the level of silence on calls. Silence can be mean many different things for organizations, whether it’s positive or negative, and can massively affect performance metrics if it’s misused. Silence can indicate issues in processes, such as when a system is failing, or highlight areas where agents may need additional training. It can also be a positive metric, such as when an agent is handling a complex situation for a customer, if coupled with communication that the agent is still present and working on the issue.
With AI-powered solutions, organizations can better understand the context of silence, such as when an agent has high silence due to staying on their call to do their admin notes even after a customer has hung up. These insights can help organizations identify areas of improvement for agent training and performance, fix shortcomings in processes or technology failings, and ultimately drive better customer outcomes.
6. Treat employees like your first line of customers
Your contact center agents sit on the frontline for your company, and act as the voice of your brand. They’re critical in delivering the best customer experiences and driving satisfaction. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that agent experience is on your priority list. When your contact center agents aren’t happy or engaged, they can’t provide the best quality service, leading to dissatisfied customers and churn.
Organizations should look for ways to engage and motivate their employees. One way is to offer continual feedback and real-time coaching, so they have ongoing, data-driven training that helps them understand where they’re performing well and areas that might need improvement. When agents know they’re going to get continual feedback, including positive feedback, they remain motivated and achieve better outcomes for customers.
7. Gather accurate feedback from your customers
Looking at your organization through the eyes of your consumer can be invaluable when managing the customer experience. One way of doing this is by looking at conversations your agents have with your customers every day. Another is through customer surveys. However, these both come with their own challenges, not to mention time consuming. For example, most organizations manually review only a small portion of their customer interactions.
More organizations are starting to realize that there’s a better, more comprehensive way to gather customer feedback. This includes capturing and analyzing a wide range of customer data points – from contact center interactions and customer surveys to texts, emails, chats, social media mentions, online reviews and more. Being able to view the reality of your customer experience automatically from every angle can help provide a deeper understanding of customer satisfaction and experience, including how they feel about your brand, specific products or services, as well as patterns or reoccurring issues that could be improved across the enterprise.