By Aaron Lumnah, Senior Manager, Marketing Demand Generation
Modern businesses have been forced to acknowledge that providing a positive customer experience can go a long way in differentiating themselves from the competition and can even improve sales. Customer service is especially vital in industries that have become increasingly commoditized, where the ability to differentiate through products is much lower, and companies are instead left to compete on how well they can serve their customers.
As more and more businesses start to understand the value of effective and approachable customer service, consumers are coming to expect it. In a recent study, Microsoft reported that 54% of global consumers are saying that they have higher customer service expectations than they did a year ago. On a more encouraging note for brands, the same study also found that 67% of people believe customer service as a whole is improving.
These eye-opening stats demonstrate that in order to survive well into the future, companies must put a focus on customer service that permeates everything they do. To most effectively accomplish this, many organizations are undergoing customer service transformations where they completely overhaul the end-to-end customer experience, most starting in the call and contact center. To help you catalyze your own customer service transformation in your contact center, we’ve compiled some best practices to get you started.
Build a Service-Oriented Culture
The first method that contact centers can implement to begin their customer service transformation, is to build a stronger service-oriented culture. As we stated in our last blog post, call and contact centers are the beating heart of every organization and subsequently so are the agents that work within them. However, with high agent turnover rates, cited to be between 30-45% in a recent article, contact centers have had to rethink their approach to their company culture and create an environment where employees feel supported and motivated to come to work.
As part of this rethink, organizations should concentrate on building an environment and embodies the values of the team. Implement a written framework, outlining key customer service metrics to aim for, and provide explanations on how to achieve them. Regularly highlighting positive customer feedback can help employees see the bigger picture and connect their work to the people they’re helping at the other end of the line. Rewarding employees who embody and display the values of the company and go out of their way to create a positive customer experience can also go a long way in helping to build this service-oriented culture by boosting morale and incentivizing Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) to perform their best. After all, happy employees translate to happy customers.
Expand Training and Sustainability Efforts
A customer-centric contact center that strives to deliver a phenomenal customer experience can do so effectively when they have empowered their agents with effective training. Customers contacting your call center are looking for speed, a first contact resolution, and knowledgeable & friendly agents. Your training should highlight the following areas:
Customers are looking for efficient experiences and are expecting information or a resolution from their contact center agent as quickly as feasibly possible.
First Contact Solution
If customers are objecting to spending some extra time on the phone, they won’t be likely to call back. Regardless of the time spent with an agent, channel, or inquiry type, they will expect to receive a valuable and accurate resolution on the first try.
Knowledgeable and Friendly Agents
Customers don’t have much interest in interacting with an agent that reads straight from a script. They’ll expect, and hope for, an agent who is an engaging expert on the subject matter, and capable of delivering accurate information in a friendly way.
The Omnichannel Experience
Another method that can be implemented is an omnichannel strategy for the convenience of the consumer. An omnichannel approach to contact centers vastly improves the customer experience because it runs on the basis of accessibility. In an age when customers expect to reach companies on all channels—phone, email, live chat, text, and social media—implementing the omnichannel method is the ideal solution to meet consumer demands.
While phone conversations are resource intensive due to the one-to-one nature of that channel, contact centers that allow customers to reach them through other means like email, chat, and social media, have actually found they’re able to serve more customers due to the asynchronous nature of these mediums. Instead of staying on the phone with just one customer at a time, an omnichannel strategy allows agents to help several customers at once, enabling multitasking and increased productivity. This newly freed up time can then be used to handle more complex issues and bring in further value to the call center.
The challenge that comes with this method is not only being available but creating a seamless experience between each channel—agents should be able to access all the information collected from different channels through a central CRM, whether the customer called in, sent an email, or opened a web chat conversation. At the same time, it’s important to allow your customers to complete all they’re desired tasks in whichever channel they’re using – including making payments. Semafone’s Cardprotect Relay+ allows CSRs to accept payments in any digital customer engagement channel, simply and securely.
Establish Service Recovery Guidelines & A Business Continuity Plan
This method is important because despite the efforts of many of your agents, they may not be able to please every customer that calls your contact center. Offer your agents guidance on how to best handle those difficult customers. Each time that an agent says, “Let me ask my manager”, that customer will only increase in agitation while they are placed on hold. By giving your employees the tools and flexibility to resolve these quickly and easily, your business can retain customers and improve their customer service experience.
Additionally, as we’ve seen during the coronavirus crisis, external events may occur that require the business to reshuffle plans and working arrangements quickly. Having a robust business continuity plan in place will help you ensure your CSRs don’t skip a beat, whether they’re working from home or in an office environment, and they’ll provide excellent customer service with every interaction.
Data Security & Privacy
Just as consumers are demanding higher levels of customer service, so too are they demanding that the companies to which they bring their business be good stewards of their data. Modern contact centers must make data security and privacy cornerstones of their operation. Data breaches are on the rise, and contact centers are no exception, being at the root of 61% of fraud reported in 2017, with that percentage predicted to double by 2020. Companies that prioritize the security and privacy of their customers data not only will protect their brand reputation, but they will find themselves winning favor with customers for respecting their right to privacy.
Contact centers should opt to only store and process data when absolutely necessary, otherwise, they should keep it out of their infrastructure entirely.
DTMF masking technology, like Semafone’s Cardprotect, helps keep numeric data, such as payment card information, out of the contact center completely by allowing callers to input their credit card numbers over the telephone keypad and masking the dial tones. The agent remains in constant communication with the caller, allowing them to troubleshoot if necessary, leading to reduced average handling times, in addition to higher first call resolution rates, and resulting in a better customer experience overall. Not only will your customers appreciate the seamless payment process, but they’ll also feel confident knowing that their credit card information is protected and in the right hands.