Customer expectations have never been higher when it comes to service levels and resolution times. This comes at a time when facing one of the most challenging labor landscapes in the contact center. If this feels like an impossible needle to thread, take a deep breath, and know there is a solution.
Many solutions as a matter of fact. Some of the most resilient and innovative-minded leaders come from the contact center. Rising to the challenge is a daily if not hourly task if you have spent any time monitoring CSAT and AHT. We tackle the challenges and bring you five ways to keep up with those demands.
- Meet The Customer Where They Want
- Deploy Tools That Bolster Agent Efficiency
- Remove Areas of Friction for The Agent
The Contact Center Labor Market Is a Key Contributing Factor
Before we dive into the solutions, let’s make it clear that a lot of the causes of customer expectations not being met stem from labor issues. Hold times increased by 34% in the last year due to our industry’s labor shortage. Interactions are becoming more complex which results in more escalations.
At InflowCX we have learned a lot over the years, and one thing we know is that there is no silver bullet to make the issues we face go away. Customer expectations are not going to be easier to meet in the next few years, they will become more challenging. Having multiple levers to pull to solve the labor shortage is the answer.
Contact Center Outsourcing
Having the right Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) partners can help in the short and long term. We need to think about outsourcing partners as an extension of your team and company, rather than “us vs them”. The standards they are held to should be the same as with your core agents.
Having an outsourcing partner to handle even part-time overflow calls can give your agents and operations team the support they need to deliver a great customer experience. Almost 90% of contact center agents report a very high stress level. No wonder agent turnover is well into the double digits.
The options available when it comes to partnering with off-shore or near-shore companies are seemingly endless. The agents go through the same training, and processes, they are held to the same standards, and they are an extension of your team. At InflowCX we start that matchmaking process with culture and industry first and go from there. Outsourcing is not what it was even 3 years ago, the market is global, and your options should be global as well.
Automate or Fail in The Contact Center
Customers expect accurate and fast resolution, automation checks those boxes. Not every issue can be resolved by automation however cutting down your traffic by 25-30% can relieve some of the pressure and stress that is crippling some contact centers.
Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVA) and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) are two of the most popular automation solutions because customers are acclimated to using them. Deploying chatbots backed by AI & machine learning can access account information and deliver a great customer experience.
Couple exterior automation with internal process automation and your company will reap the benefits. Your customers will engage with a happier agent and now by meeting customer expectations, you have also elevated your customer experience.
Meet the Customer Where They Want to Be Met
No, we are not saying you need to drive or fly to the customer’s home, however from a contact standpoint, you need to meet your customers where they want to be met. For some that could be Facebook Messenger, for others, it could be text/SMS, and some prefer a phone call.
By offering options customers’ expectations are met because they feel like you are catering to their needs. There is no one “right way” to contact your company so offering different ways such as chat, text, social media, email, video, call, and even having a call back option helps your customer feel supported.
This is what we refer to as an Omni-Channel strategy, and the clients who have deployed this for their business see increased customer engagement, experience and have higher customer satisfaction ratings. All because you are meeting the customer on their terms.
Deploy Tools That Bolster Agent Efficiency
This is something behind the scenes that your customer will never see however your agents will love you for empowering them with the tools they need for success. Knowledge Management enables agents to quickly find the answer they need from easier questions to more complex issues. Speed and efficiency matter to the customer.
Workforce Management (WFM) elevates the efficiency of the entire contact center, anticipating peak times and bringing in backup agents when needed. Conversational AI tools help supervisors anticipate when an agent may need assistance. Just having tools that help assist your agents with guided call flows can make a huge difference.
The innovation that has blossomed from the contact center of the past 18 months empowers agents to new levels. Instead of guessing, agents are now able to deliver timely and accurate answers to even the most complex of issues.
Remove Areas of Friction For The Agent
Are there policies and procedures that your agents are being asked to follow that hinders them from providing great service? Even with the best-in-class companies we work with, there are efficiencies to be made.
Just asking your agents this question will help you understand how you can improve. For instance, a call avoidance policy is good to have, however, it doesn’t address the root cause of friction for the agent. Do they need more training? Is something going on at home? There are more questions to be asked when faced with these challenges.
Having a zero-tolerance for some policies may be something to re-visit during these times. Compassion and understanding can go a long way to agent retention, and sometimes just acknowledging the challenges is what your agents need more than anything. Now is the time to evaluate your policies and if this makes sense for 2023 and beyond.
At InflowCX We Always Strive to Exceed Our Customer’s Expectations
For decades we have been delivering an unparalleled customer experience because we listen. Our first step in any consultation is to learn about you and your business. People, processes, and technology are a winning formula. We would love the opportunity to speak with you about how we can help, call us anytime you are ready to get started.