Creating a Better Call Center Customer Experience
Whether we like it or not, the name call center is synonymous with bad service. So what can businesses do to improve the call center customer experience?
Names fall in and out of vogue. Somehow customer service departments became call centers. Customer service suggests that the person who answers the phone will be the frustrated customer’s guiding light and problem solver. The name call center is impersonal. It’s also associated, for better or worse, with jobs outsourced to other shores. Think about it. Call center. Doesn’t it make you think of a room filled with phones with blinking lights?
If you’ve ever worked in customer service you know that for every blinking light, there’s a customer growing increasingly frustrated. That’s hardly the type of experience that makes a first-time caller anxious to do business with the company, is it?
According to the Harvard Business Review, 40% of customers who have bad call center experiences stop doing business with the company. The same experiences that frustrate customers impact call center agents as well. It explains why call centers have employee turnover rates
The same experiences that frustrate customers impact call center agents as well. It explains why call centers have employee turnover rates between 30 and 45%. Contrast that with a composite turnover rate of 15% for all industries in the United States.
So, it would seem if you want to create a better call center customer experience, the best place to start is with the agents.
Increase agent autonomy
Giving customer service representatives a certain degree of autonomy can go a long way in increasing their productivity. Rather than sticking to narrowly defined roles, they can be more responsive to a greater range of customer needs. This can have a tremendous impact on streamlining call center workflow.
Enhance agent participation
Agents who feel they are an appreciated part of a team tend to be more motivated and engaged in their work. Including them in meetings and decision-making among company higher-ups can make them feel they are vital members of the company. Feeling valued gives people incentive to be more productive.
Give agents access to real-time metrics
When an agent has real-time information he can make more informed decisions as to his own time with callers. Look for software with real-time metrics like number of callers in the queue, longest waiting time, and average abandonment time
Provide agents with comprehensive caller information
One of the biggest drains on time is the need to gather information about each caller’s history. Call center software that integrates with the company’s customer relations management (CRM) system decreases handling time and increases productivity. It’s even better if the information pops up in the browser as soon as the phone rings. This also addresses a pet customer peeve, the need to explain his problem over and over.
Provide agents with conferencing
Even the most effective agents eventually come up against a problem they can’t solve. Conference calling capability allows the agent to include the caller rather than out him on dreaded hold.
Call centers are the support beams of today’s businesses, even in this online world. Call center reps are directly responsible for the company’s image in the eyes of both repeat and prospective customers. Improving their call center experience is the same thing as improving the customer’s experience.