No matter the market or industry, all call centers share the same end goal: deliver exceptional customer service. But what, exactly, does that entail?
How you define customer service has a huge impact on the metrics and KPIs you use to measure call center performance. It also gives agents a blueprint to follow so they can support customers the best way possible while sticking to your organization’s bedrock values and principles.
Customer service might mean something a little different depending on whom you ask. From our perspective, great customer service meets these core criteria:
- It’s fast.
- It’s effective.
- It’s easy.
- It’s consistent.
And finally, it strengthens the bond between brand and customer. When done right, customer service turns frustrated callers into satisfied customers and long-time supporters into dedicated advocates. There’s plenty of opportunity for call centers to deliver that kind of engagement and outreach, so long as they raise the bar for customer service according to each of those criteria.
Deliver fast, effective results
A lot of consumers dread the thought of calling customer service lines. With the labyrinthine call trees, bounced calls and long hold times, who could blame them?
Exceptional customer service responds to customer questions, complaints and concerns without delay, finding solutions as quickly as possible and reducing customer wait times. The faster call center agents can get to each caller in their queue and resolve their issue, the more satisfied those customers will be when they walk away. Robots can assist call center agents automating their mundane tasks and enabling them to focus on the customer interaction instead. Besides boosting contact center productivity robotic process automation delivers an improved customer experience as well.
Conversely, long queues and hold times are a recipe for customer service failure. According to one survey, almost two-thirds of consumers said they would be unwilling to wait on hold for more than 2 minutes before hanging up.
Building multichannel strategies into the call center can help lower hold, queue and response times. When information is carried over from one channel to another, less time is needed for agents to learn about a customer’s concern. In addition, intelligent virtual assistants can better support call center staff by providing answers to questions they can’t answer and pointing them in the right direction of the best solution for a particular problem.
Make life easy for the customer
Many customers want to work out issues themselves, only calling a live agent when they have exhausted all other options. According to Gartner, while speaking to an agent over the phone remains the most popular way for consumers to resolve issues, they also use virtual chat, email and websites a great deal as well. Giving users a variety of self-service tools to troubleshoot problems, find answers to common questions and resolve their own issues helps improve customer satisfaction while reducing the strain placed on call center staff.
Using the inherent strengths of each touchpoint also makes it easier for customers to get the information they need and resolve whatever issues they experience. With mobile apps, chat bots, virtual assistants, online support materials and other digital resources, customers effectively have 24/7 access to exceptional support services. This can seem like a dizzying array of channels, modalities and touchpoints.
In an effort to make life easier for your customers, are you making it too difficult for you and your team?
The answer lies in transcending channel specific thinking with the 7 Definitive Capabilities that Realize the Value of Multiexperience Design.
Stay consistently great
Customer loyalty is a fragile thing. It doesn’t take much to sour a long-term relationship and turn away once-devoted customers. That’s why it’s so important that call center agents stick to the same high performance benchmarks day in and day out.
Loyal customers may be willing to overlook the odd misstep so long as they’re not too inconvenienced and the issue can be quickly fixed. Any huge deviations from the normal standard of service are less likely to be forgiven, however.
Achieving that level of consistency requires total commitment from call center staff as well as a robust technology environment to support agents with whatever tools and information they need. For instance, call center automation streamlines processes to help speed up customer interactions and find answers as quickly possible.
Creating a comprehensive brand experience that carries over from one channel ensures customers enjoy the same high level of support and service at every touchpoint. That approach is key to achieving truly exceptional customer service.
Brands need to carefully construct a complete customer experience that adheres to the criteria listed here at every touchpoint. Remember: Great customer service is fast, effective, easy and consistent. If your call center can meet those benchmarks, you will be well on your way to building lasting relationships with customers that deliver long-term value.