Customer care is vital to any brand’s continued success—and its ability to provide this support service directly impacts both customer satisfaction and loyalty. That impact can be positive or negative depending on customers’ experience with contact center agents and whether or not those interactions meet their needs and expectations. That’s why contact centers need to be more empathetic and understanding while also balancing company policies and sound business practices.
Contact centers are known to be the epicenter for incoming issues, and customer service offerings have become more detrimental, with more consumers turning to a variety of support options to help with their needs or queries. Today’s contact center is the meeting point for brands and consumers to come together and build foundational relationships for trust and loyalty. They can also be a powerful factor in strengthening brand reputation and identifying the differentiators that enable brands to stand out from the competition.
Contact centers can ensure that their focus is always on the customer and use their data to take action, reduce churn and provide a connected experience throughout the customer journey.
Meeting Your Customers’ Expectations
When asking consumers what impacts their level of trust with a company, offering excellent customer service ranked number one, according to Dimensional Research.
The customer’s experience doesn’t stop once they have purchased a product or received their service. It is an ongoing process, and aftercare and support are just as important as the transaction.
Companies are under immense pressure to provide the experiences that their audiences want. If something isn’t up to scratch, customers expect it to be resolved if they are to remain loyal to your brand.
According to research by NewVoiceMedia (now Vonage), around $75 billion is lost every year on poor customer service experiences. That’s why it’s so vital to identify customers’ expectations in the first place. Over the years, we have helped many contact centers to create experiences that generate loyalty. We have identified four key requirements that customers have for their contact center interactions:
1. Focus on Quality
Contact centers are often the first point of contact when a customer has a question or complaint. This means call center agents have the first opportunity to influence whether a customer will stay or leave, meaning they have the power to improve customer satisfaction and prevent churn. To do this successfully, employees must take the time to understand the customer’s problem, show empathy and let the customer know they are doing all they can to resolve the issue.
Why it matters:
51% of consumers say the most important element of a good customer experience is interacting with an agent who understands the issue (Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report, 2019).
2. Issues Resolved in Real-time
Your customers’ time is valuable, so they expect to have issues resolved in the first contact. By addressing problems immediately, agents can turn negative experiences into positive ones. When contact center agents have information at the tips of their fingers, such as the time, date and customer issue, it helps to prioritize cases and relieves agent stress.
Why it matters:
A LivePerson Global survey found that 82% of consumers say the number one factor that leads to a great customer service experience is having their issues resolved quickly.
3. Availability of Help
Customers should be able to contact your organization however and whenever they like. Offering a multichannel service for your customers to get in touch decreases customer effort and lets them get in touch on their own time. However, it is essential not to get rid of the human element, as it is one of the fundamentals of customer service.
Why it matters:
According to Forrester, live assistance has the highest satisfaction rate, with 69% of customers saying that their questions are fully addressed over the phone.
4. Anticipating Needs
A customer calls for a solution, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to wait on hold if the answer can be delivered much simpler and more proactively. By evaluating the entire customer journey and having the data readily available, you will know at what points in the journey the issue occurred, which allows you to understand why it occurred and take action. Anticipating the customers’ needs and taking proactive actions to fix the root cause will decrease the number of calls to your support center and allow your contact center employees to focus on the larger customer issues.
Why it matters:
Microsoft’s State of Global Customer Service Report found that 70% of global consumers have a favorable view of brands that contact them with proactive customer service notifications.
5 Simple Steps to Improve the Contact Center Experience
When you listen to what your customers are saying, you can identify and understand where and why issues occur. Only then can you reassure them that you understand how they feel and have all the information you need to step up and take action. Following are some easy ways you can utilize customer and employee feedback to improve the contact center experience:
When you listen to what your customers are saying, you can identify and understand where and why issues occur.
Step 1: Utilize Automation
Take routine and repetitive tasks out of the hands of your agents by automating them so that they can focus on more complex issues. Solving minor issues through automation (such as chat functionality or within survey feedback) will reduce the number of calls to your call center and save you time and money.
Using an automation tool that takes feedback directly from the customer and automatically directs them to the solution they need will reduce the stress on your customer support team and allow your customers to get the issues resolved quickly without having to escalate it further to speak to an agent.
Step 2: Explore Customer Issues to Create Self-Serve Content
Solve frequently occurring issues by analyzing your customer feedback and linking the top repeat problems back to your organization’s development teams. This way, everyone can see where the problems are arising and take appropriate action, such as creating self-serve content like instructional videos and FAQ support pages.
It is likely that most of the queries your support team hears on a day-to-day basis are around the same topics. Anticipating customer queries before they are asked demonstrates proactive support and puts the power in your customers’ hands to solve their issues efficiently.
Step 3: Engage and Enable Employees
By enabling your employees to utilize their unique insight into customer issues, they can turn detractors into promoters. It is essential to train and coach your employees. Teach them how to reduce friction and provide them access to customer feedback to equip them with the knowledge to address customer concerns. This will reduce repeat calls and call transfers, as well as help solve issues in the first contact.
Human and emotional connections are very important. By arming employees with the right information and training, you will create positive relationships with customers.
Step 4: Data Is a Gold Mine
All organizations generate tons of data. Knowing how to use it is the difference between a successful organization that understands its customers and an organization that just survives. By collecting and analyzing data such as customer feedback, social media data and website analytics, you can feed this information back to your customer support teams to understand where issues are arising and be on hand to solve these problems straight away.
Step 5: Closing the Loop
Good customer service should have a closed-loop process in place. Follow up with customers post-resolution with a survey or other method to collect their feedback. This shows customers that you care about how their issue was handled. It also helps you to identify opportunities for agent training and process improvement to enhance the call center experience.
In addition to gathering customer feedback, it is helpful to follow up with the frontline agent to find out how they felt the case was resolved. This gives you insight into how your employees are feeling and where they experience difficulties during the resolution process. You can use all of this data to improve the processes you put in place continuously.
The Business Value of Providing Excellent Customer Service
Optimizing contact center performance helps you to generate business value in three major areas:
- Follow up with detractors
- Pinpoint at-risk customers
- Identify friction points
- Drive behaviors to create customer trust and loyalty
- Reduce cost to serve by resolving within the first contact
- Drive loyalty and use less budget to do more
- Lower employee attrition
Reducing Handle Time
- Less customer effort
- Higher agent engagement and productivity
Remember that attracting a new customer is six to seven times more expensive than retaining a current one. Whether your contact center focuses on decreasing handle time and increasing speed of answer, or improving first-contact resolution and reducing customer transfers, ensure that your performance metrics support the economic drivers of your business.