6 Tips for Optimizing the Voice Channel

In the modern landscape of omnichannel customer service, the traditional voice channel remains a preferred contact channel among customers. As described in the previous blog post, many customers turn to the voice channel for the reassurance of talking to a live agent. Some customers find the channel simpler to use than others, while some may seek a personal, humanized experience that voice can provide. Here are six tips for optimizing the voice channel for superior customer experiences.Offer IVR options for faster service. According to an American Express survey, 67% of customers have hung up the phone out of frustration they could not talk to a real person. Many customers want to reach a live agent, especially when a situation is too complex to explain over a text-based channel. Offering IVR options that allow customers to proceed through a menu quickly without having to listen to long options is ideal for faster service. Visual IVR menus further streamline the process by enabling customers to click or touch their way through an IVR system through a visual, menu-driven interface.Eliminate hold time with prioritized callbacks. Kissmetrics noted a study revealing that 70% of consumer-initiated phone orders were placed on hold. Wasting the time of your customers can easily lead to low satisfaction scores, missed sales opportunities, and ultimately customer churn. To attract customers who might otherwise be wary of long hold times, offer prioritized callbacks that provide customers a callback when their position comes to the front of a queue.Let customers know your phone support hours. When a customer calls for service, he should know whether or not phone support is available at that time. Ideally, mentioning phone support hours on the brand website and other channels (such as social media) is the best way to inform customers before they actually pick up the phone. In addition, mention contact center hours at the very beginning of a support call so customers do not waste time calling during non-service hours.Analyze metrics and customer feedback. To truly optimize the voice channel, it’s important to analyze key metrics and determine where improvements can be made. First call resolution is a critical one for many brands, as it often indicates both agent efficiency and swift customer satisfaction. Another important metric is average handling time, which brands typically aim to decrease as much as possible due to the costly nature of the voice channel. While it may prove expensive to endure long calls with a single customer, be careful not to sacrifice the quality of a customer service interaction for the sake of reducing AHT. In fact, first call resolution often depends on spending extra time with a customer to deliver excellent service. Lastly, pay attention to other metrics such as abandonment rates, the number of re-routed contacts, and post-contact customer satisfaction scores to ensure that the most efficient contact center practices are indeed in place.Use a CRM for better organization. Harvard Business Review cited a study in which 56% of customers claimed a need to explain their issue more than once when speaking to customer service agents. One ideal way to organize information and streamline communication in the contact center is to adopt a CRM solution. A centralized database is key to organizing updated customer information accessible across agents and departments and providing time-efficient, quality customer experiences on the voice channel.Use a friendly tone. Perhaps the greatest advantage of the voice channel is its potential for making personalized, natural contact with the customer. It can be difficult to communicate an empathetic tone through text, so an agent with a professional yet approachable tone can make a great difference when appeasing an unhappy customer. Agents should be trained to use a friendly, conversational tone with positive language that keeps the customer reassured and happy to do business with your brand.As customer service becomes more automated, many customers will continue to seek a human touch when they need support. With these six best practices, your brand can make the voice channel a preferred and delightful medium for delivering great customer experiences. Learn about Vocalcom contact center software solutions for optimal customer service 

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