Events over the last year have resulted in tremendous pressure on customer services operations – whether in retail, financial services, the public sector, or many other sectors. Andrew Tucker, Success Manager at Cirrus discusses how four key themes have emerged as priorities for organisations operating in today’s changing marketplace.
Weathering the perfect storm
Weathering the perfect storm
The last 10 months have forced companies to rethink how they do business in their customer-facing operations. Feedback from contact centre customers has stated that the increase in traditional voice calls since the pandemic has put agents under pressure, resulting in longer queue times, higher abandonment rates and reduced customer satisfaction.
It has also highlighted that the old legacy systems are no longer fit for purpose. The need to enable agents to work from home and access customer information to provide a ‘business as usual’ (and above) service has created new challenges that cannot be resolved by the old ‘disaster recovery models’. Customers now working from home are calling at different times, making the old forecasting call patterns and agent scheduling redundant. It’s a perfect storm for contact centres to manage.
Four key areas for contact centres to address
While many contact centres have successfully serviced customers through these times, the pressure is still on. Customer feedback has highlighted four key themes that are at the forefront for CSM managers as they identify priorities and changes required to meet these new challenges:
1. Cost efficiency and performance
Flexible is the new essential. For contact centres this is especially true as they have switched rapidly to a remote working model, or a hybrid of socially-distanced contact centres connected to some homeworking agents. Adaptable, easy to use cloud solutions are the key. Flexible in that licences can be added easily or reduced to meet demand, and intuitive so agents can be up and running with minimal training or support. The great advantage of cloud-based services is that the switch can be done very easily in a piecemeal approach using operating budget. There is no need to invest in big, new infrastructure projects using capex budgets. Cloud solutions offer a flexible, ‘pay as you use’ model.
Cloud also offers a low-risk flexibility to try new features and capability, such as introducing new digital channels and integrating with other systems. Both approaches improve call resolution and deliver efficiencies in agent time.
2. Agent wellbeing and managing home working
Excellent customer experience starts with a superior employee experience. But with today’s increased workload, anti-social hours and no longer having the support of colleagues or their manager in the workplace, agent burnout is a concern.
Unhappy agents also result in increased turnover, which means costly recruitment and training to keep staff levels maintained. Results from a McKinsey survey reports that engaged and satisfied call-centre employees are 8.5 times more likely to stay than leave within a year1. Managing homeworking and supporting agents is a priority.
A simple way to improve an agent’s experience is to reduce the burden of repetitive calls. Research has shown that 80% of queries can be answered by chatbots2. Using technology, whether AI in the form of chatbots, or a knowledge bank with customer FAQs, frees up agents to deal with more interesting calls and to help with vulnerable customers.
Traditional contact centre systems with siloed information mean agents have to trawl through different systems while on customer calls. A joined-up omnichannel approach gives a single view of the customer. It speeds up processes, takes away repetition and improves both the customer and agent experience.
3. Accessibility, security and compliance
While seemingly contradictory, a highly-accessible cloud solution can also offer security and compliance with the required legislation. Modern cloud architecture ticks all the boxes to meet cybersecurity, ISO27001 information security management and ISO9001 quality standards. A cloud contact centre also offers several options for PCI DSS compliance, a requirement that is increasingly under scrutiny. Ultimately, the responsibility for keeping cardholder data secure lies with contact centres – choosing the right technology solution will give both agents and customers peace of mind.
4. Going digital and keeping up with customers
Customer experience is a great starting point for a digital transformation; placing the emphasis on creating a happy customer, and it can solve a lot of inherent inefficiencies. Most customers are already using their phones throughout the day, swapping from WhatsApp to email to Facebook. For businesses wanting to provide an optimum service, offering a choice of how customers can interact with them is an obvious win.
Enabling customers to choose whether they use live chat, email or a voice call can also help with peaks in demand. When the phone lines are busy and it’s a simple question, how much easier is it for the answer to be on the FAQs on the website or for a chatbot to handle the query? It also frees up agents to deal with more vulnerable customers who may require that extra reassurance.
Addressing these four key issues is a priority for companies competing in a leaner marketplace. Looking at complementary Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) solutions that can overlay easily and remotely protect existing technology investment is a good starting point. They enable operations to be easily scaled up or down to meet fluctuations in demand, can streamline processes and provide flexibility for agents working hours in a rapidly changing, unpredictable environment.
Find out how Daisy can help improve your customer experience with our range of contact centre partners and solutions by getting in touch with one of our experts.
From call routing to AI chatbots, our specialists can discuss the full range of features out there to ensure your organisation gets the solution and feature set that’s right for you. We deliver and support a full range of solutions from traditional telephony, unified communications and contact centres both on-premise or in the cloud (public or private).
With more of the workforce at home and business data flowing outside of your organisation’s IT infrastructure, you may need to review your connectivity, cloud and security solutions too. Daisy can help you ensure data stays safe and provide the consultation, solutions and services you need to make your business smarter with technology.