The traditonal benchmarks for measuring success in the call center are pretty well ingrained, and old habits are hard to break. But call centers – and the whole notion of customer service – have changed drastically, particularly in the last few years. To keep up with the times, and to keep your customers and employees happy, it’s time to shift the way you think.
Before: Call length
Better: Customer satisfaction
Patting yourself on the back for reducing the average call length? Probably, given that’s always been considered a measure of success. Shorter talk times mean shorter wait times and happier customers, right? Not always.
Sure, paying attention to call length is important. Unusually long calls could indicate that customers are having trouble getting the resolution they need. However, pushing employees to get off the phone faster is a slippery slope. They might be short-changing the customer in terms of service just to get better numbers. You’re better off prioritizing and rewarding customer service benchmarks and bringing up call times only if they become a problem.
Before: Low salaries
Better: Strong retention
There’s constant pressure in the contact center to keep costs down, and many companies do this by keeping salaries low. There’s a limit to how much you can spend on wages, of course, but when your wages are not competitive you’re going to see high turnover, which can be even more costly. The Center for American Progress estimates that for each $30,000 employee lost, most companies spend more than $5,000 in recruiting, hiring and training costs.
Before: Reactive Customer Service
Better: Proactive Customer Service
Call centers were designed around waiting for the customer to come to you with a problem or question. In the modern world of social media and high customer expectations, you need to be seeking out the customer, too. The most successful contact centers proactively reach out to customers through social media, email marketing and more to address problems as early as possible. Respond to customer complaints on Twitter and Facebook, offering solutions to the problem, and send customer feedback surveys via email to gauge satisfaction.
Before: Script memorization
Better: Improv skills
Your customers don’t want to speak to robots; they want to chat with empathetic people who can offer creative solutions. If your call center agents are reading from a script, they’re not going to come off as caring, and they lose the ability to think on their feet. Some operations managers are going as far as bringing in an expert to teach their agents improv skills. You don’t have to go that route, per say, but you should train agents not to read word for word. Empower them to take a more natural approach.
Before: Dispute resolution
Better: Exceeding expectations
Solving a customer’s problem used to be enough. Service isn’t working? Fix the issue. Shipment didn’t arrive? Resend the product. These solutions will probably keep you from losing the customer, but they don’t boost your brand.
The modern customer wants more, and they appreciate brands that go above and beyond to make them happy. These are the brands they Tweet about, praise on Facebook and recommend to their friends. Talking to a customer who needs a shipment of contacts before vacation? Overnight them for free. A customer who returned a defective item? Offer 15 percent off the next purchase. The money you spend (or lose) will pay for itself in positive brand exposure.
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