How a customer experiences a company through its contact center can make all the difference in the world to the ongoing success and growth of the business, or its downward spiral.
The customer’s experience (CX) will determine if they do business with you again or turn to one of your competitors. In addition, if the experience was really bad, chances are they will also post it on social media which further leverages the negativity surrounding that experience. In a recently published report, eConsulting found that 73% of buyers cited that CX was one of the leading factors in making a purchase decision, while negative experiences lead to higher client attrition rates.
In another study by Walker, they predicted that by 2020, customer experience is expected to overtake product and price as the key brand differentiator. With that being said, we see companies increasingly focusing on making changes to their call centers to accommodate growth and improvement to increase customer success. The biggest issue with that is understanding what needs to happen and how to improve your contact center.
Here are eight proven steps you need to take to improve the customer experience in your contact centers.
How to Improve Customer Experience in Contact Centers
There is always room for the improvement of CX in contact centers with a wide variety of touch points where a customer connects with your company and brand. At each contact point, there’s something you can do to enhance your customer’s experience with your contact center. The key is to approach this in a practical step by step manner (not all at once).
1: Know Your Customer
When you started your business and began sales operations – we’re sure you did a lot of customer research in determining your target audience and know a lot about your customers. However, to take it a step further, your contact center team needs to know your clients personally too.
If you have not done so already, create a customer persona that allows the various teams in your business, both sales and contact center, put an identity and face on your customer that allows them to envision exactly who they are communicating with on a regular basis and have a greater understanding of who they are and what their needs are.
For instance – your primary customer may be male between the age of 30 – 45, living in one of the top major metropolitan cities and have the following characteristics:
- Robert Williamson (persona name example)
- Age 33
- Married, with one child, living in a 3 bedroom apartment or home
- Loves to watch sports on weekends and go out with friends and family to restaurants and bars
- Is an employee at a medium to enterprise sized Fortune 500 type company, is passionate about his job, and typically works long hours during the week.
With that information – suddenly your customer is a person that your team can identify with and CX in your contact center improves with higher quality information about your customer and their transaction history.
2: Understand the Customer Journey and Put it Front and Center
A customer has different needs at different stages in the sales cycle and will interact with your customer service team in different ways. If you would like to improve the customer experience in your contact center, you will need to interact with your clients in a way that is aligned with where they are in the customer journey.
For example, a new potential customer who has just been introduced to your brand should receive a more generic and welcoming greeting as well as any educational and information on the benefits of your project or service. While someone who has already made a purchase should have more of a personalized experience based upon their specific needs and what they purchased from you.
With the help of integrating your contact center with your CRM system, your team should be able to pinpoint where a customer is on the journey, have their relevant account information available and be able to respond in the appropriate personal manner. The premise of this is to empower your team to quickly and easily recognize how to approach every client.
3: Minimize Customer Effort
Keeping it super simple is the best way to go. Clients want one-click checkouts, instant communication, fast service, next-day shipping, and they expect the same level of simplicity from their CX with your contact center. To improve customer experience in a contact center, as well as uphold higher levels of quality assurance (QA), consider implementing the following:
- Ask for the customer’s phone number and offering to call them back in case of a disconnection
- Provide product knowledge and training to your contact center agents so they better understand customer questions and decrease the need for the client to repeat themselves
- Provide FAQ’s and Knowledge Base articles for self service and additional information
- Send extra information or follow up materials to the client after a call to supplement the service and improve the interaction
- Make every effort to solve the problem during the first call
4: Develop Emotional Connections With Your Customers
Customers want to interact with and purchase from brands that share their values, care about what they want, and understand who they are. If a company does not provide that type of experience, chances are that client will not be around for long. The importance of providing emotive CX is significant in connecting with your customers and requires your contact center team to develop emotional intelligence when dealing with callers.
Agents need to employ more emotionally intelligent tactics to improve customer experience in contact centers. For example, your team could implement:
- Storytelling, which helps the customer relate better to company, its brand and the agent on the call
- Personalized follow up with an email or written letter
- A bonus or gift, such as a free upgrade or product
- Loyalty rewards for returning customers or customer referrals
The bottom line is that you want to create emotional connections with your customers that make CX a positive event that not only improves your contact center, but also has strong long-lasting effects on a company’s brand.
5: Engage With Your Customers How and Where They Want
As mentioned earlier, customers like to have simple convenient interactions when they contact a company. When it comes to interacting with your customers, taking an omnichannel approach is typically the best bet so that they can contact you how they want to, when they want to, in the format that is most convenient for them. A phone call is most likely not the best channel for all customers to use, however, having web chat, sms messaging, social media, or email can easily be used to make the connection. Just be sure to outline clear guidelines and how to use each type of platform to get the most out of each interaction.
If you want to know how to improve the customer experience in your contact center, pay close attention to how and where your customers interact with your company and brand. Leveraging different channels and integrating that into your contact center platform will not only help provide the best CX, it will also enable your team to produce the best level of success and satisfaction.
6: Leverage Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and Skills Based Call Routing
Modern contact centers are integrated with IVR technologies and the ability to route calls to the appropriate people based upon the needs of the customer. Recent studies show that 80% of all customer calls are typically front-line simple questions such as account balances, order status, or due dates – all of which can be easily handled quickly and efficiently with the proper setup.
When a more unique need or higher level issue is at hand, the call can be routed to the appropriate team members to address them more effectively. One of the worst things a contact center can do to annoy a customer is transfer them through multiple departments to get to the right person.
Using an IVR and skills based call routing will not only help customers get their answers quickly on the first call or contact, it does it efficiently as well as enables your contact center team to focus on higher value and more pressing customer service needs.
7: Train Your Team for Customer Experience in Your Contact Center
Your contact center team is your most valuable asset when it comes to how to improve the customer experience. How well your team is trained to handle clients will determine how they represent your brand and convey a positive message for your company.
Make sure you have a clearly outlined onboarding program in place as well as ongoing training for your contact center and customer service team. In addition, make sure they know how to use your contact center software and support their training through multiple modalities such as videos, staged practice calls, online presentations and documentation, quizzes and chat sessions as well as through one-on-one training.
8: Ask for Feedback
Your customers provide a unique window into how your brand is perceived and where there may be areas for improvement. In addition, customers want to know that you’re listening to their wants and needs. The best way to leverage this is to ask for their feedback and to open up a dialogue about what they like and don’t like about your brand, your contact center, and the people that they have dealt with during the course of their customer journey.
Consider asking your customers to fill out a short survey after every interaction or end every call with a simple question or two regarding how the contact center did and what they would improve for the next time. The more feedback you get and the more you know about the current CX in your contact centers, the better.
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