Customer service and new technologies drive the success of a contact center. It’s important to be aware of new ideas and trends that may require adjustment from managers and agents. Keep in mind that these are not trends that emerge like fashion trends, which are popular for awhile and then fade into obscurity; these new developments governing customer service at contact centers require more permanent solutions.
1. Multi-Channel Customers
The days are long gone when a customer’s only means of communication with a company were a telephone call or placing a stamp on a letter. Emails, online chats, and messages on social media are all being used to ask questions about products, offer praise or criticism, or check on order statuses. Contact center agents must be aware of the varying best practices in each of these channels.
2. Customer Experience
Too often customer service is measured only by whether a product is purchased and kept, or returned. But companies should look at the entire customer experience as their product, which includes any communication with their contact center before and after the sale.
3. The Cloud Computing Model
Cloud computing is provided as a subscription service, which can be a tremendous advantage for smaller or midsized call centers, as there is no need to invest in additional hardware and software. Other benefits for "call centers in the cloud" include flexibility (since call monitoring data is stored “in the cloud,” it can be accessed from the office, from home or a mobile device), easier implementation, and easier to use.
4. Social Media
As stated in #1, social media has become another means of communication between a company and its customers. But many posts are not specific questions that require an answer – Facebook and Twitter are places where a company can engage with customers at a more personal level, listen to their thoughts on a variety of topics and converse with them. What’s important here is to encourage your customer base to feel like a valued part of your community.
5. Real-Time Decisions
Quality assurance is impossible without reliable, real-time adherence and quality monitoring that incorporates alerts, dashboards and key performance indicators (KPI). Challenges are inevitable, but when they are quickly discovered they can be corrected before they can become an issue.
Friday, July 26, 2013
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Written exchanges of information, whether via email or text chat, have become commonplace. However, these channels work best with simple questions and conflict resolutions where a few sentences from both participants will suffice. Once the point has been reached where the number of exchanged messages tops 5-10, it might be advisable to switch to a telephone conversation.
With online chat, it may take longer to complete a customer interaction, simply because it takes longer to type a message than to say it. However, online chat agents can manage up to five sessions simultaneously, which will impact productivity and scheduling. If five proves too many (measure response times to each customer to determine this), three ongoing sessions might be a more practical limit.
When it comes to workforce management scheduling, you will want chat agents with proven written skills. While the Internet has done no shortage of damage to the disciplines of spelling, grammar and punctuation, it is vital that any written communication from your company to customers is free of such errors.
A Facebook page and a Twitter account are great ways for companies to announce new products and specials and exchange ideas with customers. They are less effective for such traditional call center functions as handling orders and returns or resolving disputes. However, this too is changing rapidly.
If the call center is to take the lead on establishing and maintaining a company’s social media presence, adequate resources must be made available to do so, to make certain pages are updated, questions are answered, and ongoing communications are having a positive impact on branding and customer loyalty.
That starts with creating and scheduling a social media team based on experience and training. Agents should not just be familiar with these outlets, but be well versed on the company’s social media strategy and best practices.
And, as with email and online chat, choose agents and experts with written communication skills, and when a problem arises try to route that customer back to a call-in situation where it might be easier to resolve the situation verbally.
Each of these new communication channels should get included into your overall forecasting, scheduling and staffing planning process.