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How to Improve Call Centre Customer Service: 7 Key Tips
In this article, we take a look at how you can improve your call centre customer service with 7 key tips that are easy to implement today.
The telephone may have evolved into a palm-sized, multi-functional, internet-enabled, selfie-taking, voice-activated, thingamajig well beyond anything Alexander Graham Bell could have imagined, but its core purpose remains the same: to connect people.
In our personal lives, it enables us to hear the voices of loved ones at any time of the day or night. But it’s also been revolutionary for businesses, helping organisations achieve real-time communication between employees, suppliers and customers around the globe.
An entire industry has been built around the humble telephone. By 2027, the size of the call centre market will be worth $500 billion in the US alone, showing that businesses are keen to invest in this key customer-facing element of their operation. The ability to retain customers and build profitable relationships will largely be determined by the customer service you provide over the phone. In a world where 61% of customers would stop purchasing from you after a bad experience, excellent customer service is everything.
In this article, we take a look at how you can upgrade your call centre customer service to excellent with a few simple tips.
1. Ask for customer feedback
This is tip number one, because so many companies skip over this essential advice. Since your service is all about the customer, you should take the time to ask them a few easy and engaging questions that will highlight the good, the bad, and the ugly (we hope there isn’t an ugly) of their experience with you. If you don’t ask, how will you know which areas of your customer journey could be improved? How will you plan for effective call centre agent training? How will you retain customers, rather than push them towards more caring and proactive organisations? You can include surveys, ask for reviews, or prompt callers to rate their experience using a simple matrix. Whatever you do, once you get the information, be proactive about implementing any immediate changes that need to be made. And don’t forget to shout about the good customer service, too. Letting your agents know when they’ve done well will motivate them to keep up the good work and inspire other team members to do the same.
2. Go omnichannel
In a multi-device, multi-platform world, your customers are probably familiar with various communication mediums and have preferences when it comes to how they’d like to reach out to your business. What’s more, a strong omnichannel strategy can help you retain the engagement of 89% of your customers. Sure, ultimately, a customer may end up on the phone to you, but they may prefer to start their journey via email or even through a chatbot on your website, because they know they’ll be routed through to the right department and can avoid hanging on the line, with a high probability that they may get passed around the houses before their issue is addressed. So, if you’re only a call centre at the moment, it’s time to start planning your evolution into a contact centre that can successfully handle all the different channels that your customers want to start conversations through.
3. Let them help themselves
Part of the reason why customers may prefer the omnichannel approach is because it enables them to self-serve on a problem and skip the call altogether. If you have a frequently updated knowledge base on your website, which customers can easily search, you may end up giving your call centre agents a lot more time to focus on tickets that need personalised or specific attention, as opposed to answering frequently asked questions, which your chatbot can easily resolve. The best part about using AI to facilitate self-service is that customers can find answers to their questions as and when they crop up. Someone could have a burning question at 2 am in the morning, when your call centre is typically closed. No problem, a chatbot can provide the answer 24/7 or even do a basic quote.
4. Personalise and individualise communication
All well-trained customer service specialist knows that it’s essential to always look beyond the transaction. On the other end of the phone is a human being, with individual preferences and needs. While you can’t always tailor your product or service for each customer, you can ensure that the service they receive is compassionate, considerate, and highly focused on them and their unique situation. Thanks to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, it’s easy to personalise communication and make sure that all of your correspondence directly addresses the customer, and acknowledges their previous purchasing history or the interactions they’ve had with your business. Ensuring there is continuity in the conversation – from the time the query is logged to the time when it’s resolved – helps limit friction and reassure the customer that their call really does matter to you.
5. Test. Improve. Implement.
Taking into account the size of your call centre and the volume of calls you take regularly, you and your team will have to work together to define the key performance indicators (KPIs), which show whether call quality, service quality, routing through your platforms, and IVR networks are consistently successful. Using score-based criteria, you can monitor the service delivery that agents provide, the speed at which resolutions are achieved, or other network-related factors that will show whether your customer experienced any friction using any of your AI or interactive voice response (IVR) pathways. Automated experience testing that rapidly load tests your infrastructure or new scripts being launched into the live environment is highly recommended when trying to boost the efficiency with upgrades are rolled out.
6. Shorten the call wait queue
Many people worldwide mourn the parts of their lives lost while waiting on hold to be put through to an agent. Luckily, there are a number of ways that you can now effectively minimise this painful aspect of a customer’s interaction with your business. First, you can allow them to self-serve and skip the need for human intervention altogether (see point 3). They can either click their way through a menu on the phone, or they can use your website or social media channels to find quick and easy answers to their questions. If, for example, they discover that the answer is too complex and still require human intervention, a chatbot can collect their details (contact and issue-related) and send them along to the relevant department with the instruction for a human to take over the chat, or for someone to call back the individual when an agent is available.
7. Establish call centre best practices
Last but not least, too often, the framework initially used to outline standard operating procedures (SOPs) morphs into something unrecognisable as new management teams or agents enter the organisation. Perhaps yours hasn’t evolved to serve the new complexities your call centre is handling, or it isn’t actively held up as something that agents and leaders should be accountable to. As part of your training procedure, agents must receive guidance on how their tasks are to be completed and the responses and behaviour they are expected to exhibit in specific scenarios. Share these SOPs throughout your network of agents and measure performance accordingly.
A call centre’s path to continuous improvement
Improving customer service quality is a perpetual task. It takes commitment and a genuine interest in what’s affecting your customers so that you can actively make real-time and impactful adjustments to your processes. Remember that these changes must also be communicated to your agents while also offering enough support and guidance to ensure that they, in turn, can perform their job to the best of their ability.
When someone has made a phone call to your call centre, they hope to talk to a friendly person who understands the value of their time and is keen to help and ensure customer satisfaction. That initial interaction is representative of your brand’s values and will make a lasting impression –– make sure it counts.
In this blog, we’ve covered the importance of connecting your channels of communication, facilitating service through knowledge bases and readily available information, as well as leveraging technology to streamline and automate the task that either makes your caller instantly satisfied or allows them to self-serve.