Customer experience has become even more important to determining business success. It’s crucial to meeting the ever-growing expectations of immediacy and instant gratification that customers demand, which significantly influences purchasing. With this in mind, John Goodram, Director of IT Solutions at Parseq’s Contact Centre division, looks at five ways to put the customer at the heart of contact centre profitability.
The effectiveness of a contact centre should no longer be measured by efficiencies and productivity alone. Looked at in insolation, such measures can prove too inward looking, meaning that what matters most to the customer is ignored. This leads to customers being frustrated rather than engaged, as service provision is focused on contact centre performance metrics, when it should be driven by customer understanding.
By taking the time to listen to customers and treating them as people instead of performance targets, employees can build genuine rapport with customers, on their terms. This approach can create positive experiences that build loyalty and deliver multiple benefits.
Customer lifetime value can be maximised as retention is improved, which is much more cost effective than new prospect acquisition. Reporting in the Harvard Business Review shows that it can cost anywhere between 5 to 25 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. Better still, according to Bain & Co, increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can boost profits between 25% to 95%.
Similarly, acquisition costs can be reduced further, as loyalty encourages positive word-of-mouth. These positive experiences can quickly spread through social media, attracting new customers through referrals and recommendations, strengthening the brand’s reputation in the process.
2. Get First Contact Resolution (FCR) right
Promoting successful FCR hinges on the realisation that the vast majority of customers don’t really want to engage with a contact centre, and when they do, they want a quick and consistent experience. This customer behaviour does not align with the Average Handling Time (AHT) metric that some contact centres deem so important. While this metric promotes speed, which arguably serves the interests of customers looking for a quick answer to their issue, it can put advisors under pressure.
When advisors focus on hitting AHT targets, they naturally seek out the quickest, most available resolution. This doesn’t necessarily deliver the right benefit to the customer and can leave them either confused about the supposed resolution, or annoyed that their issue hasn’t been sufficiently dealt with. All of this can lead to increased costs for the organisation through repeated contact from the customer as they aim to resolve their issue. More importantly, revenue losses can be incurred as the customer takes their business elsewhere and shares their negative experience, which can quickly tarnish a brand’s reputation and affect purchasing throughout the market.
Successfully moving towards FCR means shifting the focus from how quickly a customer issue is dealt with to how effectively it is resolved. This can be achieved through upskilling advisor knowledge of products and services, and using this knowledge to accurately pinpoint the right solution for the customer.
3. Listen to customer feedback
Customers are the lifeblood of any organisation. If you don’t listen to what they’re telling you, your organisation is not in a position to evolve. This means that the organisation is effectively staying with the status quo, risking getting left behind by competitors that are moving with the market.
Customer feedback is key to understanding what people really think about your organisation, products, services, pricing and whether you’re actually giving people what they want and expect. All this information passes through the contact centre and can be effectively and efficiently gathered via customer and advisor surveys.
Looking beyond surveys, it’s important to look at the interactions with customers. These are a goldmine of insight and can include the content of the interaction, the customer language and the sentiment they used, in addition to the key messages they relayed.
This feedback can be used to adapt processes to improve the overall customer experience. Technology plays a role in harnessing this feedback by equipping advisors with the right tools, but it’s equally important that advisors have the knowledge and skills to hear and understand what customers are communicating, via whichever channel they’re using.
4. Implement real-time reporting
Contact centres are probably one of the most heavily reported and monitored environments that exist. The centres are built on a myriad of reports, Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). All this reporting is important, but it needs to have a purpose and to be rooted in customer experience.
For example, from a real-time perspective, it’s important to pull trends analysis that identifies traffic flows to the contact centre. Firstly, look at the reporting to see what is causing the spikes in traffic i.e. is it a process or customer service failure, or is it the result of promotional marketing activity? Secondly, analyse how the customer experience is affected during the spikes. Is the quality of FCR maintained? Are customers getting the response they require and in line with the SLAs that they’ve been promised?
After reports have been pulled and analysed, contact centres can then only derive true value by using the information to improve the customer experience, instead of using it as a whipping tool to drive productivity. A data led approach to enhancing customer experience will help move the contact centre from a cost to a profit centre as this approach inevitably improves overall efficiency.
5. Know when to cross-sell and up-sell
It’s all too easy for contact centres to use any customer interaction as an opportunity to promote wider products and services. Advisors are often too heavily scripted and pressured to push the sales opportunity, regardless of the sentiment of engagement with the customer. This can cause customers to become frustrated as they are being sold to when they have an outstanding issue or the cross and up-sell having a very short lifetime value as the ‘sale’ has been agreed at the wrong time. The customer says ‘yes’ during the interaction because they’re keen to end their engagement with the advisor. Then, a short-time later, will reflect on what they’ve hastily agreed to and end-up cancelling the agreement. As a result, an otherwise avoidable increase in contact centre traffic is generated, adding cost for the organisation.
Empowering advisors to properly listen to the customer and to spot a relevant opportunity for cross and up-selling will prove more successful in driving new sales.
Today’s contact centres have the technology at their disposal to better understand the customers they’re connecting with and the circumstances under which they’re engaging. This, coupled with a move towards putting customer experience first and using this to reshape performance metrics, can help call centres to boost bottom lines.Posted by Parseq Posted on 13 Dec