More companies that use call centers are prioritizing the customer experience (CX), seeing it as an integral part of reaching their call center KPIs. Deloitte’s 2019 Global Contact Center Survey found that 57% of contact center executives view CX as a high priority, over costs (54%) and revenue (17%). Delighting customers with seamless call center experiences are no longer seen as a secondary issue, but the essential issue.
Yet due to the great variability of call center agent performance, complex compliance requirements, and multiple channels and touchpoints involved, meeting these CX goals remains elusive.
That is why digital tools that help standardize and automate the customer experience can be a real life-saver for companies and BPOs.
Here, we’ll diagnose some of the most common issues call centers face. Based on our experiences with hundreds of call centers, we will recommend a few easy-to-implement digital antidotes that have brought companies we work with the highest ROI.
What’s Really Hurting Call Center Experiences?
Lousy call center experiences didn’t come out of nowhere. Growing companies, seeking to keep up with an ever-growing volume of inquiries, came to rely on IVR technology and call center agents to field calls. And pressure to increase sales turned outbound sales calls into a matter of great urgency. Yet as customers project their expectations for Amazon-like customer service and sales onto every interaction with businesses, companies will need to step up.
Consider the typical prospective customer: going about their day, they receive a call from an agent pitching a product or service. If it’s relevant, the agent has a very limited timeframe to explain the differences between offerings, prices, and terms. More likely than not, the prospect will anticipate a dragged-out and confusing conversation, and will brush off the agent with an excuse.
With a phone call alone, it’s very difficult to succinctly convey all the nuances and information related to the offer. As a result, typical call center sales agents aren’t given a chance to complete their pitch.
The situation isn’t much better during service calls. Here, it’s the customer who needs the call center to fix a problem, change a product, or renew a service. The power dynamic has shifted in the call center’s favor. But this attitude takes a short-term view.
In the long-term, customers who struggle to get a hold of the call center, or are bounced through confusing IVR systems, or have to repeat their information to different agents before getting their issue resolved will have a diminished perception of that company. Existing customers who have bad call center experiences are less loyal, less likely to refer their friends and family, and less likely to engage further with the company.
A recent Medallia study found that 40% of call center customers expect to be offered personalized experiences based on their interests, previous buying behavior, demographics, and psychographics. This does not jibe well with the current state of affairs, which is marked by broken customer journeys, silos, and variability in agent effectiveness.
Customers who call a contact center want to feel known and understood; instead, they are treated like strangers, like cogs in a machine.
5 Burning Call Center CX Issues –– And Practical Digital Solutions
Here are a few of the issues that undermine the call center customer experience — and workflow automation tools call center executives can adopt to tackle them.
Image Source: Workflow Automation Solution | No-Code BPM | Process Automation Platform
1. Endlessly Long Calls (AHT)
Customers today are juggling work and home demands while worrying about a pandemic with no clear end in sight. They simply don’t have time to listen to and digest complicated sales pitches.
Some things are more quickly understood and accepted once visualized. Call centers can augment their traditional voice-based conversations by incorporating multimedia into their conversations. While on a sales call, agents can simply send customers a text message link with the products and services discussed, including images, descriptions, and prices.
2. Painful Call Scripts (Compliance)
Call center agents should be quickly closing deals once customer interest is high. Yet so often, reading out loud long T&C scripts breaks the momentum of calls. Even if the customer still converts, they are annoyed and impatient — potentially putting a dent in the net promoter score (NPS).
Instead, call centers can employ automation to instantly generate the right T&C for the particular product, and send it to the customer’s cell phone for review and consent. This improves the customer experience without sacrificing compliance.
3. Outdated Supplementary Channels (FCR)
While contact centers typically rely on phone calls to interact with customers, they frequently rely on additional channels to supplement their calls. But not all of these channels have a place in our digital-first world.
According to the Deloitte study, call center executives anticipate moving away from paperwork-centric channels (such as fax and mail) in the next two years. Even email as a preferred channel is expected to take a hit, with B2C companies moving from email to web-based forms to boost efficiency.
Indeed, call centers can get the most out of their web-based forms by embedding conditional logic into them. Conditional fields stay hidden until the customer gives certain answers or selects a specific option. This ensures that customers can easily and quickly glide through forms while on a call with the agent.
4. Clumsy Payment Gathering (PCI Compliance)
Especially now that record numbers of call center agents are working from home, companies need to have the right PCI-compliant solution. They have to choose carefully, though. The majority of solutions are clumsy, rely on outdated DTMF technology, and take months to deploy. Companies need a solution that can be onboarded quickly to support remote agents and their customers.
Call centers can bypass the need for such a system by forgoing having customers read payment details over the phone. Text message-based solutions allow call center agents to request payments from customers in real-time via a secure mobile environment.
5. Self-Service Options
Finally, not every sales or servicing interaction merits a phone call. Call centers are too often burdened with simple queries that could have easily been resolved through robust self-service options. It’s not that customers want to speak to a human being for simple queries or purchases — more often, the other alternatives aren’t clear.
Companies should encourage customers to use self-service to expedite their low-complexity inquiries. Rather than spend their time on a call, the customer simply fills out a form in the product webpage, calls into an IVR to request a digital form, or automatically makes a purchase or upgrade online. For existing customers, forms should self-populate customer information automatically, and documents can be automatically prepared and sent for eSignature.
Let’s face it: Many companies today sell very similar products and services. The single best way for a company to differentiate itself is through the quality of its customer experience. Customers won’t soon forget the company that handled their inquiry in a seamless, fast, and accurate fashion. Digitized and automated tools allow call centers to make the most of their human talent and provide a consistently excellent level of service.
Technology isn’t here to replace call center agents — it’s here to make them better, smarter, and yes, more human. When digital tools are in place to handle the mechanics of selling and servicing, agents have more time and empathy to give their customers the human touch they deserve.