How Can Contact Centers Be Less Painful for Customers?
We’ve all had the experience of buying something from a retailer, having a problem with it and needing to call their customer service center to resolve the issue. Sometimes, just finding the phone number from the website can be difficult, as some retailers seem to purposely make that difficult. And when calling the retailer, consumers are often forced to listen to lengthy recordings encouraging them to go back to the website and/or asking them punch in everything but their children’s names and social security numbers to get an actual live person.
The call itself can often be problematic and annoying as many call center personnel read from scripts, and there are sometimes language barriers. Other options aren’t always easy either, as web chat isn’t always available or the agent may be dealing with multiple chats at the same time. Facebook and Twitter posts can go without a response as can e-mails and texts.
So, I wondered if savvy retailers can improve contact center operations to create a positive point of difference, building revenues and profitability in the process.
Recent posts on the Interactive Intelligence blog offer some tips for improving contact center performance. Here are a few, paraphrased:
- Measure agent performance and make sure agents are satisfied with their jobs.
- Don’t emphasize efficiency over customer experience or vice-versa.
- Excel at the contact channels you currently have (i.e., call centers) before adding new channels, such as texting or social media.
- Don’t overload agents with concurrent tasks — the ability to multi-task is a myth.
- Different channels require different skill sets, so hire appropriately.
- Voice is still the channel preferred by most customers for service and support, so don’t neglect it.
- Get IT to collaborate with contact center management to devise the best processes.
- Make sure your agents have well-organized desktops.
- Ensure that your training is sufficient and test the knowledge of your agents regularly.
- Survey your customers and pay attention to how they think your contact centers are doing.
A 2013 State of the Contact Center in Retail report from LiveOps offers additional reminders and pointers including:
- With more communications channels, customers have higher expectations.
- Servicing customers via social media increases customer satisfaction 15 to 20 percent.
- Eighty-six percent of shoppers want a common buying experience with a retailer, regardless of the channel they use.
- Interactive Intelligence Blog
- Call Centers and Retailers Should Start Listening for the Sound of Jingle Bells Now – Contact Center Solutions
- Live Ops Blog
Understanding that efficient processes and standardization are important, how can call centers service customers better? At what point do you see a good customer experience being sacrificed for the retailer’s efficiency and ROI?