Virtually no one calls a call center in a good mood. Usually, customers contact a call center because something has gone wrong with the normal operations of a product. At the very best, a customer is calling to inquire about something, and it's a pretty safe bet that, when that phone rings, “happy” is about the last thing that customer is at the time. But how can happier call center customers be had? Business2Community offered up a look at this recently, and shows how just a few simple points can inject a lot more happiness into normally dismal call center proceedings.
First, start with an integration of customer relationship management (CRM) capability. There are a great many tools out there to handle CRM, and giving the call center agent access to plenty of information about the customer. With that kind of information in place, agents can provide the best service, without having to ask the customer questions that the customer may have already answered on an earlier call, or even earlier that same call with another department. Any notes that need taken about a call can be quickly added to that customer's profile, which in turn can be used on later calls.
Second, consider enhancing the interactive voice response (IVR) system. Few people like talking to machines, but there's a critical point that makes the machine very valuable: simple calls. Some calls are easy to answer, like “what are your hours?”, or “what is my bill balance?” Allowing the machines to field these calls frees up call center agents, which in turn reduces wait time throughout the system. Better yet, proper use of IVR can get a customer precisely to the help that needs to be had, which means call centers can be organized by skill, and customers can be routed to the best agent for the job.
Third, a queue callback system can be a huge help. Instead of making the customer wait on hold, why not have the system arrange to call the customer back when the system is free? That means the customer can carry on with business until the call center has sufficient resources available to handle that call, instead of making the customer sit on the phone. Indeed, a recent study suggested that 32 percent fewer calls were abandoned when a queue callback system was put in place, meaning that more customers got satisfactory responses and, in general, were helped more often.
Finally, consider a VIP queuing system. Everyone likes to think that calls are an egalitarian system, handled in the order in which they are received, but that's not always the case. For major customers, or people whose business is more valuable than others, a priority call system—driven by a combination of a call distributor system and a unique phone number—gives those customers access to the head of the line and special help when it's needed.
The key point here is, simply enough, customers want problems fixed, right away. Customers aren't interested in waiting. Customers like having other options, like text messaging, to augment the standard phone service. The more of these points that a call center can provide, the less likely it becomes that said customers will take business elsewhere, because the customer is satisfied. At the end of the day, that's exactly what the call center is there to do.