5 Ways Customer Feedback Can Improve Your Call Center
You can train your agents and your managers until you’re blue in the face, but like a parent sending a child off to college, you never know how capable your call center is until you unleash it upon the public. Unfortunately, your representatives don’t return after a few months with grades in hand – you have to seek out barometers for success yourself.
Gleaned from the very people you rely on for sustained business, customer feedback data can help you identify key areas for improving call center agent performance. The following are five areas where a careful study of your customers’ experience can help you discover issues that you might not have known existed, and identify areas ripe for improvement.
1. Customer Satisfaction First, and most obviously, you want the people who dial into your call center, for whatever reason, to have a positive experience (or as positive an experience as possible).
Allowing for the rare person just looking for a stranger on whom to blow off some billing-related steam, most customers are trying to get a question asked or a problem fixed – and they’re usually more than willing to tell you if their needs were not met.
Looking at your customer feedback data in aggregate will identify drivers for customer satisfaction. Are a sizeable percentage of callers asking the same question, or lodging the same complaint? Not only can you relay this to the operations side of your business, you can prepare your agents with these details. Which leads us to…
2. Agent Coaching Along with salespeople, your customer care representatives are the first line of contact between your company and the general buying public. This fact is not lost upon the vast majority of managers, 77% of whom noted that hiring and training high-quality agents was the key to delivering a superior customer experience.
Remember that wistful talk of grades above? This is the closest you can come to finding out if your agents are making the Dean’s list or failing out. Diligent analysis of post-call surveys will help you identify areas for improvements in your coaching and training. You’ll also be able to determine who your most effective reps are, and whether you have some personnel changes on the horizon.
3. Call Deflection One surefire way – perhaps the best way – to increase the quality of your call center’s performance is to reduce the overall number of incoming calls that you’re receiving. If you understand what questions your customers are most likely to ask, you can answer it for them and eliminate the need to call.
Analyzing the sentiment of incoming calls, as well as specific areas where your customers are having issues, will give you a roadmap for preempting customer service issues. Is there general confusion about a product and it’s feature set? Prominently displayed product how-to’s, or an updated FAQ on your website, will reduce call volume and ensure that your agents expend their efforts on other topics.
4. First Call Resolution This is the home run, what your agents swing for each time they answer the phone with “Hello, thank you for calling…” There is no better way to ensure your customers hang up happy, and to improve your brand’s customer service reputation, than resolving an issue on the first call.
When studying the first call findings in your CX research, don’t concentrate solely on rates. In addition, look for issue descriptions that tip you off to the need for additional training and/or information from the product team. That way, you get a roadmap to solving your problem, instead of just a notification that a problem exists.
5. Handle Time Your customers want to have a quick and easy experience when they call you up – and they will tell you how to help them. You just need to listen: the answers are right there. Your online forums, call center agent notes, and call recordings themselves reveal the most common issues and concerns within your customer base. Analyze all of this data in aggregate to identify patterns and trends, and empower your agents to quickly address them.
Improving your center with these five strategies will elevate your function within the business. No longer will you be seen as a cost center with the primary goal of driving efficiency, but rather a business asset with a critical role in maintaining customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Steve Roney is a social content strategist at Clarabridge, a high-growth customer experience and sentiment analytics software company.
Delegation Within The Call Center Leadership Environment
What is delegation within the context of call center leadership? And what does delegation look like when efficiently executed within the call center environment? This brief discussion will lead you in the right direction. By definition, delegation within the context of call center leadership involves assigning tasks and responsibilities to an employee who has been empowered to make certain decisions. Normally the call center leader delegates these tasks and responsibilities to a subordinate. Call Center delegation has three primary purposes:
- Increase efficiency and performance. Backlog can be eliminated and customer service improved if call center delegation is used wisely. When all aspects of the delegated task (i.e. vertical and horizontal follow-up) are completed it should have a greater impact on your daily routine.
- Develop a key leadership skill in the call center leader which prepares them for greater leadership roles in the future.
- Prepare, develop and empower the subordinate for increased responsibilities in the future. This adds value and self-worth to the subordinate.
So where do we start? As a leader in the call center you have to first realize and accept that you will have to delegate in order to be effective. You start by developing a well-rounded relationship with all your team members. You will know you have achieved this level of relationship when you are able to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Strengths or natural affinity towards certain processes may vary within the group.
After you have assessed your team the next step is to be willing to take risks with your team members. They may not be "fully" competent in your eyes for certain tasks but that should not stop you from delegating to them. With this mindset you are now ready to start delegating.
Look at your individual daily responsibilities and see which ones can be routinely and consistently delegated. Care should be taken to ensure you are delegating as much as you can. However, the goal should never be to get rid of all your responsibilities, although a novel idea. Once you have identified the responsibilities you should be very transparent with why you are delegating. The explanation to your subordinates should include:
- Workload. You are delegating because the workload is high and you want to improve efficiency and performance.
- Confidence. You are delegating because you have absolute confidence in him/her that they are able to perform the task.
- Opportunity for growth. You are delegating because it provides an opportunity for growth to him/her. They will be learning new procedures and skills which will help with your succession planning efforts.
Finally, customize your delegation strategy for your environment. For example, you can rotate the agents by week or day who will be involved with delegated tasks.
Vice President, Customer Relations and Sales
Uniters North America
David Johnson is currently the Vice President of Customer Relations and Sales at Palladio US, LLC, which is a part of the international Uniters Group. He is also the current President of the SOCAP Florida Chapter. David has been working in the Customer Care industry for the last 15 years where he started out as an entry-level employee. David has a MBA Degree with a major in Finance and is an Adjunct Professor at Broward College teaching Accounting and Entrepreneurship courses.
Goods and Services Are No Longer Enough
Goods and services are no longer enough; what consumers want today are experiences – memorable events that engage each individual in an inherently personal way. To meet this demand, SOCAP members must develop experience innovations that turn mundane interactions into engaging encounters.
When it comes to people, you must direct workers to act.
Understand that in today’s Experience Economy work IS theatre. It’s not a metaphor (work as theatre); it’s a model. That’s why Geek Squad agents in remote Geek Squad City — where they have no face-to-face interactions with customers — wear the same uniform as do Agents in Best Buy stores. Help your workers embrace theatre by understanding the difference between what and how – what is the functional requirements for their interactions with consumers, but how they go about those interactions can make them memorable.
When it comes to process, you must mass customize your offerings.
Reach inside of your customers to create that personal experience within them, but do so with low costs, high volume, efficient operations. The secret to that is modularity, designing your processes like LEGO building bricks that can be put together in different ways for different customers. Progressive Insurance, for example, sends its customer service reps to the very site of member accidents, handling the claim and handing out a check on the spot over 90% of the time — while lowering its costs through its modular processes.
When it comes to technology, you must fuse the real and the virtual.
Recognize that consumers today don’t want to differentiate between off- and online interactions; they want to communicate with you whenever, wherever, whatever, and however they want. So innovate new ways of interacting, such as telecom provider 3 in Sweden, which created a “LiveShop” to connect consumers to its contact center. It’s like Skype on steroids, where its reps use a touch-screen interface to bring into view physically whatever phones and plans they want to talk about with the real, living, breathing customer in front of them virtually.
Follow these three imperatives and you will develop your own experience innovations that will shift you beyond goods and services and into today’s Experience Economy.
B. Joseph Pine II
Co-author, The Experience Economy, Infinite Possibility, Authenticity
Author, Mass Customization
Co-founder, Strategic Horizons LLP