While the purpose of an inbound contact centre is to provide fast, effective responses to customer queries, offering a great customer experience (CX) should also be a key priority. A lot of the time, though, people react to the prospect of picking up the phone or sending a message to customer service with an overwhelming sense of dread.
This should, of course, surprise no-one – as consumers ourselves, we’ve all had poor experiences like being put on hold for what seems like a lifetime, being caught in a maze of interactive voice response (IVR) prompts, and putting down the phone after a marathon session that produced little to no discernible result.
A lot of these CX blunders come down to a few simple mistakes that – thanks to modern technology – we have in our power to fix today. Here are five of them:
1. Long hold times and call queues
Being put on hold – or, worse, being asked to call back at another time – is one of the biggest bugbears for customers calling into a contact centre. In an age in which brand interactions are expected to be empowering, it’s the very opposite – the customer has no control over when and how their problem will be solved, no say in what constitutes a productive use of their time, and no access to an agent to discuss other options.
There are lots of possible fixes to this particular issue. The organisation could hire more agents, for example, or identify and try to cut inefficiencies in the contact centre. However, the quickest and most efficient way to reduce waiting times is to empower the customer and give them more than one way to solve their problem – think community forums, social media and the number one preferred customer channel, self-service.
2. Poor use of IVR
Of course, self-service has to be implemented well to be successful. IVR is a great tool for routine inbound inquiries, but is often used clumsily. Customers tend to associate it with overlong and redundant prompts, vague commands, and a frustrating inability to speak to another human being when their problem can’t be solved.
To fix this issue, organisations should look to variations on the IVR concept such as interactive text response (ITR) and automated speech recognition, and then map these technologies to individual customer needs. ITR via SMS is suited to simple transactions and setting appointments, for example.
3. Being transferred between agents
No-one likes to be transferred between agents during a call to a contact centre. It makes the customer feel both out of control and unvalued, not to mentioned frustrated with the organisations’ inability to connect them to someone who knows how to solve their problem.
Often, when we talk about CX, it’s tempting to focus on digital interactions and self-service. However, this is only half of the story – conversations with agents still happen, and they can just as easily make or break the overall customer experience. Organisations should look to solutions like skills-based routing to avoid customers being shuffled around between agents and increase the chances of first-call resolution.
4. Having to repeat information
The fact that customer service is now commonly delivered over the web and in mobile apps has given rise to a new kind of CX issue: a lack of continuity for customers who switch from one channel to another mid-interaction. No-one wants to enter all of their data via a web form, call into a contact centre when an unexpected problem crops up, and then have to repeat that information to an agent. It’s time-consuming and inefficient for both sides.
To fix this issue, an organisation should strive to make contextual data available to agents at all times, allowing them to leverage information gleaned from past transactions and therefore solve customers’ problems at the earliest possible juncture.
5. Being left hanging
Finally, when someone takes the time out of their day to contact customer service, the last thing they want to hear is that it’ll take more than one call or interaction to solve their problem. If organisations are to provide a great customer experience, they need to make first-call resolution a top priority.
Of course, this isn’t possible in 100 per cent of cases. But even then, the contact centre can take steps to prevent the customer from feeling like their time’s been wasted – by automatically scheduling follow-up calls to IVR interactions that are left unfinished, for example.
This way, a potential source of frustration turns into an opportunity to surprise and impress the customer.
Steve has held leadership roles in Computacenter, EMC, Orange, and most recently as RVP for Hitachi Data Systems, where he was responsible for leading HDS regional restructure and Transformation, succeeding in driving growth and market share.
Steve is passionate about delivering world class Customer Service, Technology and hiring and developing great people. He believes how you engage with your customer defines the success of any business, with the client demanding ease of interaction, when they want it and how they want it.
With a simple view that focusses on these three areas, Aspect is ideally positioned to accelerate its growth and Market share. Steve is working with the EA leadership team to create a plan and vision for Aspect EA that underpins the competitive advantage that the Aspect suite of software provides to its clients.
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