While today’s customers use many channels to contact customer service departments, many still prefer the traditional voice channel. According to a 2020 Zendesk report, more than 50% of customers across all age groups typically use the phone to reach out to a service team, making it the most used channel for customer service. However, the same report found that nearly 70% of customers are irritated when their call is transferred from one department to another. Customers simply don’t want to waste time, and repeating information is stressful and frustrating. For this reason, companies need to address this pain point by embracing strategies that offer faster resolutions to problems, reduce customer wait times, and increase customer satisfaction in the process.
Companies can offer their customers swift and satisfying resolutions while reducing wait times in multiple ways:
An IVR collects information about a customer through a series of prompts and directs him quickly and efficiently to the most qualified agent available or most appropriate self-service option. This prevents customers from being put on hold for long times or from being transferred from one agent to another. Customers may be placed in a queue—with the possibility of prioritizing high-priority customers—or may be given a callback option. IVR menus also fuel self-service, giving customers the option to check account balances or delivery status, for example, with no need to wait for an agent.
An ACD, or automatic call distribution system, will connect your customers quickly to the right agent. The ACD uses preset distribution rules to route calls to the most qualified agent available based on the agent’s skills (such as language, product knowledge, IT knowledge, etc.). Customers are paired with the agent who offers the best chance of providing the right solution. When coupled with an IVR, customers may be immediately identified before the ACD routes their call.
Understanding a customer’s profile is critical to offering timely service. A CRM integrated into your contact center solution can provide a 360° view of a customer’s profile and history, such as previous purchases and service interactions. Agents can make real-time updates during interactions, ensuring that customers never have to repeat information when they call for service or during an interaction if transferred to another agent.
Offering customers multiple channels for contact is not enough for delivering great service. Companies must ensure that every customer interaction flows as a single, seamless conversation regardless of the channel used so that customers do not waste time repeating information. For example, modern contact center software will provide a 360° view of customer data and interactions across the different channels.
Furthermore, a CRM can help agents keep customer information up to date as customers switch from one channel to another. To further reduce wait times, agents may also offer to move customers from the voice channel to a digital channel such as email, SMS, messaging, or social media so that customers can interact with brands at their own pace.
When agents are unavailable or customers have a simple request, AI-powered chatbots can be used to deliver quick and personalized service. Their 24/7 availability means that customers can use self-service at any time of day. If a case is too complex, chatbots may need to connect the customer with an agent who can properly resolve the problem. At these times, agents need to be available to make the connection. In any case, chatbots can save customers time by providing the agent with the contextual information needed to handle the customer request.
A callback system can be used to save customers time. Customers may be placed in a virtual queue that keeps their place in line without requiring him to stay on the phone. A web callback feature may also be used for customers navigating a company website. By clicking a button on the website, customers can provide their phone number and receive a callback at their preferred time. Companies should be sure to use a callback system particularly when there are peak periods with large call volumes—such as during a holiday season or a sales event—so that customers do not have to wait.
Contact centers should be staffed appropriately to anticipate customer needs. During periods of normal activity, make sure there are enough agents to respond to requests on every channel and that agents are available to take customer requests from chatbots at the times advertised to customers. During peak times, adjust your staff accordingly by hiring more agents and allowing remote working for greater productivity. Also make sure that agents are trained properly for the channels they serve to ensure greater efficiency.
Companies should design customer experiences so that time is never wasted and resolutions are quick and satisfying. By doing so, they will save customers frustration, improve KPIs, strengthen their brand image, and drive customer satisfaction and loyalty.
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