Winning at a contact sport

Winning at a contact sport
Its been described as the holy grail of contact centres: cost-effective service operations, with superior service measured through customer feedback and customer satisfaction.

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It’s been described as the holy grail of contact centres: cost-effective service operations, with superior service measured through customer feedback and customer satisfaction

Ensuring your call centre resources match your customers’ demand patterns is just one of the keys to customer satisfaction, according to customer communications specialist Salmat Salesforce

The reality is that no one has unlimited budgets for customer service, so how do you keep your customers coming back for more and ensure better outcomes for both your business and your customers? Customer-communications specialist Salmat Salesforce has eight golden rules for companies looking to achieve these goals.

1. Make it easy

Enable customers to do business with you, through their channel of choice.

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Web and digital channels with self-service options are a must for enhancing your customers’ experience. Leverage e-commerce and self-service solutions to remove tedious and repetitive interactions between customers and your contact centre agents. These add little to no value, and may actually detract from the customer experience you hope to deliver. Instead, automate customer ID and authentication using proven, state-of-the-art speech recognition and biometric solutions. Not only do biometric and speech recognition solutions improve the customers’ experience, they reduce your per-call costs, making them very affordable for contact centres of 20 or more agents.

2. Call control

Want to drop 10-20 percent of your current average handle time (AHT) while increasing customer satisfaction levels?

Focusing on ‘call control’ in your contact centre can reduce your operating costs while improving your customer-satisfaction scores. It’s all about having relevant and meaningful conversations and ensuring your agents take control of the call. If they are correctly empowered, coached, monitored and incentivised, you’ll strike the right balance between delighting your customers and keeping your CFO happy.

3. Don’t over promise and under deliver

If you quote a service level to a customer, ensure your organisation can deliver on it—virtually 100 percent of the time. For example, if you give a range of 24-48 hours, the customer will hear ‘24’ and if you haven’t got back to them, they’ll be calling before you’re ready to respond. The result is increased cost-to-serve.

If you don’t have timely reporting on activity levels and outcomes relative to your stated service levels, then you’re probably in for a shock.

4. Answer my call, please

The number one reason globally for negative customer satisfaction ratings is, you guessed it, unacceptable wait times.

Having the right resources in the right place at the right time is a science, not an art. The trick is ensuring your resources match your customers’ demand patterns and on an intraday (15-minute interval) basis. Being understaffed during peak calling periods will impact customer and staff satisfaction. Being overstaffed imposes unnecessary cost on the business. Optimisation of resources is the key and requires a degree of flexibility through the use of part-time and casual employees to supplement full-time staff.

There’s no excuse for not consistently meeting Grade of Service (GOS, the percentage of calls answered within a certain number of seconds). Don’t be among those organisations that have yet to invest in or adopt industry-proven workforce management systems and practices.

5. Generalists v specialists

More complex contact centre environments need to ask if it’s better to make everyone an expert in all company products, services and problem resolution, or to have specialists dealing with particular transactions and products. Some believe that training all agents in all facets of the business to achieve higher FCR (first call resolution) creates more satisfied customers.

On the flipside, generalists take longer to train to competency and cannot become experts at all things. Transferring a customer to a specialist who can handle their issue efficiently and effectively may be seen as a friendlier and better way of servicing customers.

6. Prepared, knowledgeable agents

When was the last time you asked your agents how you could help them be more successful? Not all initiatives go to plan and not all of the details can be attended to. Product faults, recalls, product delays, new initiates, business rules, systems changes and deployments will all impact on the agent’s ability to service your customers effectively. Don’t set your agents up to fail! Strive to avoid unhappy customers and agents. And give your agents the tools and resources to delight your customers.

7. Effective team leaders

If IT is the ‘brains’ of a contact centre, effective team leaders are the ‘heart and lungs’ without which your contact centre will never reach its full potential. Great team leaders are made, not born. Consider investing in contact centre-specific development programmes and online tools to ensure yours receive the best possible learning and coaching for success.

8. Customer feedback and satisfaction measurement

A customer satisfaction and a feedback system is an essential prerequisite for enhancing customer experience. Net Promoter Score (NPS) is our favourite customer satisfaction measurement tool, but it’s what you do with the feedback and the results that counts. Analysing and acting on feedback lets you understand exactly what’s driving customer perceptions. Understanding all the issues of the product, distribution, pricing and agent control will lead to higher levels of customer satisfaction and an everimproving customer experience. Treat others as you would like to be treated—your customers will reward you for it.

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