Why Your Call Center Is Busier Than Ever – And What To Do About It
When we talk to businesses, two concerns always come up in conversation: how to better serve current customers, and how to manage the growing number of people calling in for help. The reality is that for most, call volume is on the rise. Yet when you look at the numbers, customers prefer not to have to call you. So, what’s going on here?
As it turns out, call volumes are rising for several reasons. For one, companies today are frequently offering new products and services, many of which are increasingly complex. In other words, Apple doesn’t get away with constantly putting out new tech products without having a fantastic support center. The more complex the offering, the more questions customers will have. Call volume spikes can also happen sporadically, as is the case during crisis scenarios like a recession or natural disasters. These events can be particularly stressful for companies since they can seriously interfere with everyday operations and attack a company's financial health.
Moreover, customers today expect the best service possible from every brand they interact with. This one we can probably blame on Amazon. It wasn’t too long ago when waiting more than two days for a package to be delivered didn’t seem like the end of the world. As products and services become better, faster, and more efficient, customers will continue to expect the same from customer service.
The question with all of these cases is: how do you manage these spikes to better serve your customers? Let’s find out.
There is no shortage of tools and strategies companies can use to mitigate the rising volume of calls. The challenge is more about figuring out where to start and understanding your contact reasons.
Call dispositioning – analyzing why people are calling in based on data from customer calls – is a crucial step in identifying what tools and strategies for deflecting calls would be most useful to implement. Luckily, there are several available solutions to help in the dispositioning process, including text mining, natural language processing (NLP), and even having agents disposition calls manually. Call Miner is a speech analytics platform that makes it easy to identify insights from current and past customer calls and it has been instrumental in helping many of our clients leverage their data.
Being able to categorize different types of calls is just the beginning – a successful approach to understanding customer needs, frustrations, and roadblocks requires a deeper look at your customer clusters (high -level personas can still be helpful if that's what you have available) and each contact type. Do your customers know how to ask for what they need or are they lost in translation with your brand lingo and processes? Did they mean to file a claim when they clicked on insurance, even though you were sure they’ would click on ‘claims’? Do they really want to call support about changing their address on file? After all, consumers today are smarter and more demanding than ever – it’s our job to meet them where they are, understand their needs and behaviors, and provide them with tools to quickly find answers themselves.
One way to study a customer contact is by analyzing it on a scale from transactional to emotional, and even personal. How much does this person need human connection to trust the brand in this situation? We use a framework for this exercise called the Human Touch Index, which we will explain in more detail in upcoming articles. The art lies in a deep understanding of the contacts you receive, and then leveraging available resources and tools such as Knowledge Base articles, FAQs, and available APIs, to create more efficient resolution paths that customers can appreciate. The goal is not to deflect all calls. The goal is to provide the best resolution path for your diverse customer base. Giving your customers the option to connect with a brand specialist when they are making a big decision like buying a life insurance policy is a huge value-add. Listening to them talk about your brand, hearing their cadence, tone, volume, and silence helps you not only build a better experience, but ultimately can and should impact your product/service.
By the time a customer has decided to pick of up the phone and reach out to you, they have likely spent time searching for answers they simply could not find. Our job is to make the search easy, to design intuitive experiences, and to offer proactive solutions to potential hurdles. In comes, the concept of call deflection - helping customers find their answers via self-care tools and content or channels like social media, forums, chat, and email so they don’t have to call your lovely IVR. We know sweat and tears went into building that thing. Don’t worry, you can make good use of that work in many ways--like using it to inform your conversational experience design projects for chat and voice bots.
Call deflection is often at the top of the priority list when it comes to customer experience strategy. If you can design efficient digital resolution paths to solve for customer needs, you can reach a new high in terms of customer satisfaction, loyalty, net promoter score, and first contact resolution. Not only is deflecting customer service calls beneficial and convenient for customers, but it’s also crucial for a company’s bottom line.
It’s important to remember that call deflection is not burying your phone number in impossibly hard-to-find places on your website or making it difficult for customers to reach an agent when they do get on the phone. That’s more like asking a friend out for dinner and then having them foot the whole bill – disappointing and confusing. And just like that friend will avoid going to dinner with you again, your customers will likely refrain from reaching out to you, but not for good reasons!
Call deflection is preventing a call when you know there’s a better way; when your data tells you this contact is more quickly tackled via chat because it requires remote troubleshooting or you know a really good answer already exists on your online community. Some companies refer to it as “containment”, because if someone is browsing your website and has questions about your product, they should be able to easily find their answer right where they are, and not have to give you a call. What happens when self-care tool and content routing is not optimized? Customers fail at finding their answers and you lose goodwill.
Call deflection can sometimes feel like an art, or a delicate balancing act between efficiency and personal service. In future articles, we will discuss call deflection techniques, such as how to effectively use automation to address low-complexity inquiries and how to implement Visual-IVR capabilities to educate customers on self-care and improve routing. Keep on, reading on.