Keep your contact centre up to date with these industry best practices.
Contact centres are the corporate touchstone for customers, and how customers are treated at this critical juncture will affect their entire customer experience. Getting it right is undeniably important, but with so many options, how does a company do that in this day and age of technological revolutions? The 2017 Contact Centre Global Survey revealed that 85% of executives expected the industry to become more complex over the next two years.
Nashua Communications experts Clint Hyland and Elmarie Turner shared what in their experience contact centres must do to stay relevant:
1. Do not shy away from new technology
If the technology can make your contact centre more efficient or improve operations then you should seriously consider it. Being a tech-savvy company will also gain you ‘cool points’ in the market. A caveat is that you must be careful what technology you adopt, and shouldn’t take up something new for the sake of it.
Before its adopted, Hyland believes that technology should meet the following criteria:
The reason to apply or add technology must always be to improve.
Technology should make the agent/consultants work easier.
Technology should improve the customer experience, be it by the ease of use, accessibility, time saved or any other substantive benefit.
With the various options that the customer will have to contact the company, Hyland advises that you use a technologically advanced multi-media handling contact centre so as to handle the various ways the customer will contact the company. The contact centre should be able to adapt permanently or temporarily as required by the environment or business. Basically, it needs to be versatile and flexible.
As part of your decision-making process, Turner advises that you try the technology internally first, that way you get to see what works and what doesn't. It also gives you the chance to fix any hiccups before the technology is introduced to the customer. Hyland explains this point further and insists that all changes to any customer-facing contact centre must be thoroughly investigated and tested before production as this could immensely impact both the survival of the business as well as the impressions of the customers. You can talk to contact centre technology provider Nashua, it will advise you on any trend along with its application and suitability.
When it comes to handling all the available technology out there, keeping it simple and organised is the best plan, according to Turner. The customer must be able to see all the options available to contact the company, thereafter using the options should be a simple and well thought out procedure. Furthermore, keep the following tips in mind:
Bots and Live Chat create more communication options for customers who prefer not to be frustrated by contact centre queues and IVRs
Everything happens quicker and is driven through monitoring and measurements
With Microsoft Skype for Business/ Teams or CIRCUIT technology – your contact centre can be one of the first contact centres to have Face to Face conversations or chats with the caller/ customer. This will remind the caller that he/she is dealing with a company that is keeping up with the latest technology.
Call centre agents can be taught to assist with more than just logging a call because of technology change – it drives efficiency and productivity as well as creates the opportunity for agents to grow
Because of the latest technology, available technicians logging on as Remote Agents can assist in high call volumes
2. Get everybody involved
Policies and new practices are ultimately ineffective if the entire organisation isn’t behind it. The direction and goals should be clearly understood by everyone in the organisation and they must believe in them too. A good idea is only as good as its application, so if the people meant to execute the idea are not on the same page as you, it won't work.
The contact centre agents will be at the forefront of the customer experience. As Hyland puts it, “Drive agent happiness to drive agent passion to drive customer satisfaction”. The contact centre agents must keep in mind to always:
Display professionalism in their work
Understand that they are a critical part of relationship building and commit to always present the company in the best light e.g. smile when talking to the customer, the customer will hear the smile.
Honesty really is the best policy. Authenticity in statements and actions is even more important in this virtual world.
Enthusiasm can go a long way in easing a customer’s concerns. They will readily believe you are glad that they called, that you are actively handling their query and that you have the solutions to their problems.
Although contact centre agents should be the focus of policy buy-in, you will need other departments (Technicians, Trainers, SDMs, Project Managers, Sales, Accounts) to promote the contact centre to their customers, to ask for feedback from their customers and to give feedback to the contact centre manager. In the end, Turner says that you should deliver the service that you expect when you call a contact centre.
3. Be clear on your key performance indicators (KPIs)
Essentially, what are the metrics you will use to determine customer satisfaction? Defining these KPIs from the onset will enable you to mark progress or highlight problem areas. At their core, contact centre KPIs never really change, no matter the tech you use it is still imperative to measure the client’s experience:
Are customers getting what they need from the contact centre (abandoned calls, average speed to answer, first contact resolution)
How efficient is the contact centre (average handling time, cost per call, transfer rate)
Is the contact centre adding business value (revenue generation, sales conversion, customer retention)
Agent management (attrition rate, absenteeism, agent quality)
The Global Contact Centre Survey revealed that companies will use contact centres to gain customer feedback using surveys (74%), contact monitoring and observation (64%) and social media listening (45 %).
4. Centre the customer in everything
At the end of the day, the customer should gain a better experience from your program. The needs of the customer can easily get drowned out in all the tech enthusiasm and pursuit of efficiency.
The best way to service customer through the contact centre, according to Turner, is to always remember the reason why this contact centre is there. Servicing people through a contact centre must deliver on:
getting it sorted quickly and if possible
As Clint Hyland puts it, “always keep in mind that the customer is vital to your business and the contact centre is the face of the business to that vital customer”. For example, although chatbots can be useful customer relations tool, an over-reliance on them can cause the organisation to lose that personal touch that customers have always valued
5. Work smarter
Data is what drives customer relations today. A contact centre should have easy and simple access to customer data so that agents can handle a situation quickly and efficiently. Hyland’s view on tech is that that small, medium and large businesses should not choose technology based on their size but always as an improvement measure. Be it a small or a large change.
For small systems, Turner recommends OpenScape Biz and Circuit; while medium and large systems should use OpenScape 4000 Contact Center combined with Circuit. Speak to Nashua to find out which option is best for you.
6. Staff training
No matter how advanced and efficient your technology is, it is only as good as the staff that uses it. Your staff must be adept at using contact centre technology. Not only must they be able to use the equipment but they will need a thorough script on how to handle any conceivable customer scenario they will come across. A careful balance must also be struck between a regimented script and giving your staff the leeway to solve unique situations. Hyland states that training should be an ongoing exercise, including refresher training on new products and trends
Regularly training your staff is important, but just as important is keeping them motivated. Here is an expert tip from Elmarie Turner: do an exercise to determine how much training costs to inspire the agents and if that cost can be injected into an incentive or gamification programme, then determine which option’s return on the investment is higher.
Currently, contact centre agents should be trained on Microsoft Skype for Business / Teams and CIRCUIT – to be used as a managed service for Adoption assistance and feedback.
7. Design a conducive working space
Along with the investment in staff and equipment, the company will also have to design a contact centre that will energise and motivate. Designing a contact centre is not about buying swanky objects, shiny gizmos or just putting up a new paint job. The contact centre has to be a place of comfort and productivity for the call centre agents. To achieve this the company has to keep in mind that:
Furnishing the contact centre with ergonomic furniture and the right desk options can reduce the discomfort of being seated all day in front of the screen
Warm colours around the office can make it less dreary and more pleasant to be in
Natural light is an easy win; everybody loves sunshine.
Inspiring artwork and posters can also make the workspace more worker-friendly
Having rest areas is also recommended as the workers will have their own space to relax
In the end, these seven best practices will help your contact centre run more efficiently and keep you at the top of your game. Managing a contact centre in an ever-evolving world requires a strategy that emphasises core values whilst fearlessly embracing change. So, the smart company will always stay informed about new trends and evaluate them according to their values and goals.
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