As more digital channels are established, contact centres also have more channels to manage. Today, most teams do not only comprise “call-centres” but also manage queries and requests through other channels such as emails, applications, websites, and social media platforms. How can businesses improve their returns on investments in the customer service divisions today?
Changing Platforms, Changing Tone
Marketers often discuss the omnichannel strategy and have made sure that the business they are in is accessible to all consumers on almost every platform imaginable. Gone are the days of flipping the Yellow Pages or searching for a business card to reach out to a business. With a quick search on search engines or social media, customers can connect with businesses instantaneously. Consequently, live agents have also been made available at every turn, to handle customer queries and requests. The increased accessibility encourages consumers to reach out to businesses for any and every issue, leading to the high volume of tickets at contact centres. Consumer-centric businesses would also seek out consumers on messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger proactively.
Providing Omnichannel Customer Service & The Challenges
What can companies do to organize their responses to these queries? Some companies do this by growing the size of contact centres and appointing teams to handle different contact channels. However, this often leads to inconsistencies in the replies that each customer receives. Live chat agents will also need to be trained in managing more situations.
Alternatively, companies can also choose to specialise their resources such that they direct incoming queries from all channels to the relevant business unit that deals with it. Although this will help live agents remain focused, it also means that the agents work in silos and may not be able to provide a completely seamless experience to the customer should they ask a question that he is not trained in. This challenge will be more pronounced in firms that provide integrated solutions and have intertwined business units that are hard to isolate. The average waiting time for customers will also be longer as a screening process is needed before redirecting the ticket to the right team.
Thankfully, these are not the only solutions. Without increasing the size of the team, organisations can still improve contact centre ROI using customer self-serve, canned messages, instant messaging platforms, and AI virtual assistants.
Help Customers to Find the Answers: Online Self-Serve
To increase the ROI for customer centres, some businesses implement measures to encourage online self-serve. This is commonly done to help consumers get answers by searching instead of being served by an agent. To achieve this, businesses can compile the most frequently asked questions to tackle queries which consumers commonly have. Businesses can also facilitate customer’s self-serve through clear UI design for its website, having accessible and good search bars and virtual assistants.
Using Canned Message: Faster Replies
Over 30% of contact centres still do not use canned messages. Canned messages are prepared ahead of time in anticipation of what customers may ask. Customer service teams can use canned responses like shortcuts to answering pre-empted questions. Such messages boast convenience, consistency and increase the speed of replies for agents. However, one limitation of canned messages is that it can come off as ‘not personalised‘. This can be minimised by further segmenting canned messages to ensure it is fully relevant to the customer in question, and allowing the agent to modify the template before sending it out. As people expect differences in tone across contact channels, businesses should also vary canned responses based on the platform its customers are querying on.
Tap on Instant Messaging Platforms: Reduction in Length of Chat
Instant messaging is transforming the way businesses communicate with consumers as it boasts much higher open and read rates than traditional channels, leading to more instantaneous communication and hence speedy resolution. The nature of the message also tends to be short and less formal, allowing requests to be interpreted quickly and replied faster, reducing the average length of chat significantly.
Using Virtual Assistants: Increase in Conversion, Reduction in Queue
Virtual assistants can be deployed on different platforms to perform the task of deflecting or handling customer queries. Virtual assistant increases the efficiency of contact centres by handling common queries from start to finish. It can also enhance the efficiency of live agents through pre-screening customers and handing off to relevant agents for accurate follow-ups. In retail and commercial banking use cases, a Virtual assistant can be used to profile a potential customer and direct him to the correct loan’s specialist for personalised service. Virtual assistants are also available 24/7 to provide instantaneous responses to customers.
The role of live agents today is much more complex than ever. When marketers tap on new channels to build and promote the brand, they also translate to more avenues in which contact centres must manage. Communications with customers have increasingly evolved into conversations in which customers expect fast and accurate replies. Successful management of the contact centre is essential for a business to expand, sell new offerings, or implement changes on existing offerings.