Customer service

How Can Call Centers Be Prepared For An Uncertain Future?

Enreach 02/02/2021
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Business leaders must adapt to the changing landscape in real time. This means predicting what can be controlled and being prepared for what cannot. Those who did the best in 2020 had one thing in common. They had already started investing in CX and understood their clients, their values, and how technology, data, and tools can help guide them.

How Can Call Centers Be Prepared For An Uncertain Future?

There are five ways to plan, prepare, and supply for contact centers, agents, and most of all, customers.

1) Understand The Customer Journey

A “journey map” helps the entire call center team better identify with what the user is going through, leading to better results for customers, agents, and organizations alike.

Journey mapping is a process that leads to a visualization of the customer journey and typically includes:

  • Phases of the customer journey.
  • The customer’s objectives and activities, represented in contact points.
  • What the customer thinks and feels before, during and after the interactions.
  • Victories and emotional challenges along the journey.
  • Feedback and insights metrics for key parts of the trip, such as NPS (Net Promoter Score) or CSAT (Customer Satisfaction surveys).

Giving teams a map of the customer journey is like giving them a roadmap: obstacles persist, but they are much easier to recognize and anticipate, making their work much easier.

2) Know Where Customers Are In Their “Journey”

Seventy-five percent of consumers in a Microsoft customer service report said they wanted the call center agent to “know who they are, what they bought and know their history.” However, only 31% of the agents had this information.

While users go to channels like chatbots and social media messaging, they want the flexibility to use different channels to meet different needs.

Customers are also willing to use self-service to try to solve their problems. Demand is higher than ever, with Bain and Company predicting that 88% of users will turn to self-service options to perform routine tasks or obtain information digitally without assistance in 2023.

According to a report from HiverHQ, 1 in 2 users say that the most annoying part of customer support is explaining their problems multiple times.

It is important that agents create personalized and meaningful experiences for customers, no matter what channel they choose to communicate with the company.

3) Combine Agile Tools And A Proper Mindset

Thanks to the tools that take advantage of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation, call centers are prepared to face customer needs. Additionally, ongoing training and sharing of best practices helps all agents improve.

Multichannel also helps users solve their queries in many cases without having to resort to speaking with an agent, thus reducing waiting times and improving customer satisfaction.

4) Make The Most Of Data

Agility in the contact center is about being aware of what customers want. What expectations do users have? Are being fulfilled? The only way to get it right is to integrate operational data with experience data.

Operational data is based on what you know about how things work within your business and whether your processes, systems, and vendors match your business demand. This data includes measures such as:

  • User information in the customer relationship management (CRM) system.
  • Information on the supply chain and product delivery.
  • Call center data such as waiting times or resolution in the first call.
  • Experience data, often referred to as “X” data, includes how the customer is feeling and the feedback they have provided.

Experience data includes measures such as:

  • Customer sentiment.
  • Results of surveys and other feedback mechanisms such as NPS or CSAT.
  • Employee comments on individual customers or notes from agents.

By reviewing these two types of data in an integrated way, the customer history also becomes one of the business results.

By tracking them together, supervisors can identify correlations and patterns. For example: as call center wait times increase, the relational NPS decreases. They can also identify when those leading indicators (lead times) are heading in a direction that will affect experience data.

5) Enhance Qualities Such As Empathy And Understanding In Agents

Changes in demand for contact centers are not the only unpredictable situation of the pandemic and of the times in which we continue to live. Customers are experiencing more experiences and emotions that require more empathy and understanding.

The challenge for agents and supervisors is to authentically empathize with customers, from first to last. To get it right, call centers must consider not only how to train agents in empathy, but also how to take care of their own well-being. If employees don’t feel cared for, how can you expect them to care about customers?

Contact center leaders must focus on employee engagement and well-being to foster and support empathy for customers. This can mean anything from managing the demands of the workforce to understanding your specific scheduling needs and acknowledging a job well done.

Investing in call center training and employee wellness not only leads to higher customer loyalty, but also to higher agent retention.

This is a critical but often overlooked consideration. McKinsey reports that most contact centers report average annual employee turnover rates of 60% or more. How many additional resources are spent on hiring and onboarding that could be saved by reducing employee turnover? What better experience could senior agents offer to customers?

This becomes more challenging with a dispersed workforce. Teams no longer work in a common space, where social interactions and group encouragement could be spontaneous. Now, leaders must be more active in their engagement and think of ways to empower officers to avoid burnout due to the telecommuting they have been forced into by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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