Here Clare Dorrian shares her thoughts with us for operations success in the call centre.
1. Have Simplicity as a Mantra
Simplicity in the call centre can be achieved through employing a culture of simplicity. Firstly, by removing the confusion from the terminology and jargon call centre agents use. Tasks can then be simplified by integrating to the right systems at the right point in the process, reducing the need for the agent to step outside the process they are currently working in.
2. Handle the Exceptions Well
The old adage of negative experiences being the most memorable is certainly true, which is precisely why organisations must work extra hard to ensure that their people can deal with every eventuality in an effective manner. Agents have to be well equipped to deal with any exceptions that they come up against. To put it simply, negative experiences are costly. Customer churn increases, negative word-of-mouth begins to circulate and many customers will leave without complaining so that feedback is not gathered.
3. Outsource to Your Customers
It is highly beneficial for organisations to maintain their web self-service channel for cost effectiveness and to free up agents’ valuable working time. Using the web, customers can complete their own repetitive administrative and often costly tasks.
Customers using web self-service should have the same information that an agent has, immediately available to them. This also helps to improve the customer experience, as enquiries can be fulfilled at the customer’s own convenience, through their preferred channel.
However, it is crucial that customers can speak to a human when their request becomes more complex.
4. Maximise Agent Productivity
Multiple desktop applications kill productivity – There is nothing more demotivating and unproductive than having to navigate through several different applications while simultaneously talking to a customer on the phone. And then there’s the duplicate data the agent is required to enter into more than one place. Unifying the agent desktop should provide a single point of access to all the mission-critical applications. It should be the only place that employees need to access to perform their tasks, ensuring there is a complete focus on customer experience and agent productivity.
5. Tap Into the Power of the Online Community
The development and growth of Web 2.0 and social networking sites is a trend that cannot be ignored. The majority of contact centre agents are actively engaging with their peers through social networks and, as such, are very comfortable working with Web 2.0 technologies. For operational success in the contact centre, the software User Interface (UI) has to be aesthetically pleasing, easily configurable and intuitive. Agents should be able to manipulate their desktop to reflect their preferred method of working and personalise their workspace.
6. Lower Costs with Multi-Channel Capabilities
Effective IVR has a significant part to play in outsourcing to your customers. Call centres can use IVR systems to identify and segment their callers. Identifying customers at this stage allows services to be tailored to a particular customer’s needs without the need to involve a human agent straight away. The caller can select the option most appropriate to them, whether it is to wait in a queue, choose an automated service, or request a callback.
7. Live the Brand
The culture of an organisation is recognised as a key brand differentiator. Employees not only act ‘on behalf’ of an organisation, but also ‘become’ the organisation – embodying its culture to people with whom they interact. Customer contact employees must therefore be trained effectively to instil a sense of pride and motivation within their role and must always be encouraged and measured against how they deliver against both the promises and expectations set by the brand.
8. Employ the Right People at the Right Time
Using technology to effectively route queries to the correctly trained person can go some way to effectively handling contacts. However, the human touch can make or break the success of the interaction. Call centre agents are often unsure about the best way to handle challenging situations, which is why thorough training and provision of the right technology is essential.
9. Provide Context at all Touchpoints
At the point of interaction, agents need context; all the necessary information relating to previous contacts, outstanding activities and customer behaviour in order to deliver the type of sales or service experience that customers demand. Having basic information such as a customer’s birthday or more sophisticated insights such as their propensity to buy or leave, or having the right scripts at appropriate points in the process are different ways in which this can be achieved.
Clare Dorrian is Head of Product Marketing at ciboodle.