The relentless onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global economy over the last two years has taken the wind out of the sails of many businesses. Even as lockdowns and restrictions on economic activities — to curb the spread of the virus hurt organizations, fear of new restrictions remain. No one can predict for sure that the virus will not mutate and pose a more unknown and serious threat to humans.
Every company is under immense pressure to reduce expenditure and increase savings during these unprecedented times. Providing customers service and resolving their issues is a business necessity, but it does not make the process a cakewalk, nor is it inexpensive.
"Cut costs while improving customer experience" has become the survival mantra for organizations. But how is that possible?
Customer service has been the lifelines of most businesses worldwide. It also plays a vital role in engaging and retaining your customers. So important are contact centers that many customers have stopped doing business with brands that have been found wanting in their customer interaction.
The post-pandemic economy will not see customers returning to their pre-2020 shopping habits. Instead, businesses must take several steps forward and accommodate the customer at the center of their policies and decision-making.
Prioritizing customer experience (CX) in your contact center can lead to significant savings and help businesses grow. Planning well and periodically reviewing your contact center's performance can be an excellent way to start. Here are some questions to ask:
What are your customers trying to achieve? Are you able to deliver the desired result?
Analyze your achievements vis-a-vis targets or desired results. How did you perform?
Are you satisfied with your overall output? Were you able to close the gap between the customer and their expectations from your brand?
Answering these questions will help you align your contact center's business process to set goals. The activity may not seem like much, but if made in time, small changes can impact your business positively and ultimately help you reduce operational expenditure.
There is no need to choose between reducing the operating costs of a call center and improving customer service simultaneously. You can have both! Interested to know how that is possible? Keep reading, as this article has all the answers.
Make an Overall Assessment of Your Contact Center
Identify the factors that contribute to your total spend like cost per call, cost of office space, employee wages, electricity bills, purchase, maintenance of systems, organizing training sessions, etc.
When you compare these expenses to the number of employees along with the total number of calls made in a day, you will be able to calculate how much an average call made/received in your contact center costs. Of course, these numbers are not absolute, and the results vary from one organization to another. Still, embarking on this exercise helps you list down all known expenses and decide where to reduce expenditure.
Three things you should keep in mind while conducting the overall assessment are:
(1) Average Handling Time (AHT)
Calculating AHT brings out the average time spent by an agent on a call and tells you how fast they are in completing post-call documentation.
(2) Calls Attended Vs. Calls in Queue
Measuring the number of calls waiting in the service queue compared to the number of calls attended to by agents gives you the duration of time every customer spends waiting to talk to your agents. Waiting times can be frustrating for customers, and a longer wait duration indicates dissatisfied customers.
(3) Customer Satisfaction Rating
Measuring your contact center's performance through customer rating and feedback is an essential assessment. These scores tell you how your contact center is performing and indicate customer sentiment towards your brand.
Calculate Costs Cautiously
When you decide to restructure your contact center, attaining economic efficiency should not come at the cost of employee satisfaction. Dissatisfied employees can trigger a mass exodus of talented human resources across the organization, also known as 'the great resignation.' Before you know it, you will come face to face with low morale among remaining staff, frequent redistribution of workload, loss of time, knowledge, and poor quality of service passed on to customers.
By the time you are done firefighting these issues, you realize it has taken a financial toll on your organization's health. Shortage of funds at this stage further restricts your ability to revamp your customer service department (hiring talented staff, upgrading infrastructure), resulting in unhappy customers and loss to your business.
At this stage, you can expect two plausible outcomes. They are:
(a) Either your perseverance pays off, and your contact center remains in business. Or,
(b) Frenzied efforts to save the contact center draw you into a compulsion loop.
A compulsion loop is a repetitive cycle where the participant expects a reward in lieu of completing activities or solving existing problems. If the efforts do not materialize, the business owner gets disappointed. Earlier, if he was unhappy with how the contact center performed, now he must contend with depleted finances in addition to the earlier problem.
Challenges related to legacy technology, process management, and dissatisfied customers can give rise to the feeling that contact centers are more burdensome than assets. If you have similar thoughts — then you are not alone. However, identifying problems and working on them can help you attain the much-desired efficiency in your customer care business.
This blog explains how to make your contact center economically efficient without compromising customer service through an eight-point plan.
8 Tips to Make Your Contact Center More Efficient Without Spending a Fortune
- Invest in employee training; empower employees with the right tools
- Multichannel support to communicate with clients — have a solid strategy for social media
- Leverage Conversation Bots to keep your business online 24/7
- Automate your business processes
- Use smart responses to reach out to customers
- Use content templates for faster messaging
- Leverage AI to reduce workload and improve efficiency
- Offer self-service support
Let's take a closer look at these pointers one by one.
Invest in Employee Training / Empower Employees with The Right Tools
Your employees are your most significant assets, and you must think about them before they begin handling service requests from your customers. Besides hands-on training with the right tools, training your staff with business and process knowledge can help your service delivery teams be prepared for handling any customer requests. Manage a sudden increase in the volume of tickets and keep everyone on the same page regarding individual and collective ticket management.
Through transparency in information sharing, healthy work culture is promoted. It also ensures tickets get resolved without facing bottlenecks triggered by the non-availability of staff.
Do not forget to monitor call statistics and identify when your customers engage with your brand the most. Keeping your agents poised for peak hours can help reduce undesirable factors like long wait times. It also helps assess the quality of communication and resolution provided by your agents. Efficient and happy agents mean good customer service, which translates to more revenue.
Multichannel Support to Communicate with Clients — Have a Solid Strategy for Social Media
Your customers have evolved; therefore, you should grow too. Evolution here means improving your systems to communicate and engage with customers. Legacy software may have helped your brand sail thus far, but if you are not using modern, AI-powered helpdesk software, you are seriously missing out on something precious.
Your customers want a seamless, frictionless digital experience throughout their journey with you. Being in sync with your customers' favorite communication channels implies being available on the phone, email, social media, live chat, web, and messaging platforms like WhatsApp.
An omnichannel support system helps you achieve this goal. Your customers will have the confidence of knowing you are there for them just a click away. Secure customers mean more business, which results in better revenue.
Leverage Conversation Bots to Keep Your Business Online 24/7
Your customers should be able to have a conversation with you when they connect with you. However, it does not imply your agents have to face burnout attending to every call that makes its way to your contact center. Bots today come in various forms, but their objective remains the same.
Often the first point of contact for your customers — virtual assistants, AI-powered chatbots, live agent support via text on messenger platforms helps keep the conversation centered around the customer and their problems. It is a fail-safe way to cut down on unnecessary human resource expenditure and helps cater to the 'want-it-now' attitude of today's customers. In addition, conversation bots facilitate businesses 'digital and mobile-first strategy — an imperative for survival in the post-pandemic world.
Automate Business Processes
Reduce workload for your agents and meet business goals simultaneously. Automation reduces human involvement in mundane and repetitive processes leaving your agents free to tackle important and sensitive tickets. When you use automation in your contact center, you uncomplicate business processes, bring efficiency and agility in workflow management, reduce overall human effort, and make it economically efficient.
Use Smart Responses to Reach Out to Customers
Imagine answering repeated queries to hundreds of customers daily. The process is monotonous, can give rise to frustration, and there is ample possibility of human error.
Sometimes customers may not react kindly to slips and gaffes, and your brand has to pay a heavy price. If you think about it, such situations can be avoided, and your brand communication with customers can be strengthened through the proper utilization of smart responses.
Send personalized communication related to products or case updates to your customers without the hassle of typing every message for every recipient. Save time and increase your help desk's efficiency with smart responses.
Use Content Templates for Faster Messaging
Contact centers send and receive hundreds of messages every day. Sending standard replies to common support requests or a similar set of customers can be a time-consuming process. Imagine the time your agents save when drafting service-related emails with ready-made content templates at their disposal.
When you use content templates in your messaging, you speed up the messaging process of your contact center and keep the communication style unified and in sync with your brand image and target audience.
Your agents do not have to struggle with the content style and grammar. Instead, they can focus on ticket resolution and simply communicate the crux of the matter. Even better if your helpdesk software fills up the various fields like the receiver's name or the subject line of the mail using pre-configured lists.
Targeted, error-free, streamlined communication can do wonders for your business. Customers love to interact with brands that are articulate and customer-centric rather than business-centric. After all, engaged customers mean higher profit margins.
Use AI to Reduce Workload and Improve Efficiency
The usage of artificial intelligence (AI) in customer service shows significant improvements in key operational metrics. Using AI in contact centers can deliver impressive results and boost the overall experience of customers. Let's look at the most common AI use cases in customer service.
Top use cases of AI in customer service:
- Contact center automation
- Optimization of service operations
- Customer segmentation
- Predictive insights and customer-service analytics
- Product-feature optimization
- Creation of new AI-based tools
This is not an exhaustive list and is indicative of the versatile nature and usefulness of AI.
The underlying objective of every contact center is to provide stellar customer service (CS) with a human touch. Contact centers use AI to resolve, handle, and route customer inquiries or complaints. If not for AI, managing huge volumes of cases can get exhaustive for agents and frustrate them. In contact centers with high volumes of call flows, AI shoulders most of the burden related to handling cases and carries out tasks with utmost diligence.
As a contact center manager, your investment in AI can get you maximum returns if the technology gives the best possible recommendations to your agents during case handling. Additionally, training your helpdesk AI to learn from existing cases and datasets will enable it to provide meaningful solutions in the overall complaint resolution process.
Offer Self-Service Support
Providing customer support across a variety of channels may seem like a daunting task in demanding environments like contact centers. Not all customers reaching out to contact centers require agent assistance. A Microsoft survey says that almost 90 percent of customers do not like to wait for an agent and prefer solving problems by themselves. Such customers are a boon for your contact center. Not only do they save your agents precious time and energy, but they also bring down your operational costs.
While a live call with an agent can cost you anything between US $5 to US $15, self-service options for customers hardly cost you anything. This is a tried and tested method of quality service delivery without compromising on quality.
Providing customers with a consolidated knowledge hub within your helpdesk software reduces your agents' average call handling times and boosts team efficiency. It also eases pressure on your delivery teams by deflecting minor queries to self-help channels.
A robust knowledge base and self-help options provide customers with resolutions to their problems in the shortest possible time. In addition, it increases first-call resolution (FCR) rates without affecting your call center's service quality, thus making it more efficient.
Cloud-based Helpdesk Software can Do Wonders
A cloud-based helpdesk software like ThinkOwl helps you manage multiple communication channels or touchpoints and enables you to take care of your customer requests round-the-clock – even remotely. All you need is an internet connection, and you are connected. The solution is also easy to operate and cost-effective as it does not incur any capital expenditure for hardware installations.
Pay attention to details, ramp up service quality, and deliver an exceptional customer experience. Sign up for a 30-day free trial.