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Trying to predict and respond to inbound customer contact demand while maintaining cost efficiencies and customer satisfaction scores is a tricky balancing act. And with digital transformation driving a shift in consumer behaviour away from the traditional outreach channels of mailer, phone and email, things are getting more challenging. Challenging – but there are ways out of this bottleneck, as we’ll see.

What are the top five contact centre issues? We know, as they keep cropping up in the conversations we have with contact centre leaders and the brands they support, so in this article we will identify a common set of issues and some practical ways to solve them.

Headache One: Low Response Rates

Response rates to outbound calls have reduced significantly as consumers are increasingly wary of telephone scams and cold callers. Email is suffering from the sheer weight of mails in consumers’ inboxes, with 80% of emails remaining unopened and 30% identified as spam, making people more wary of opening things from strangers or corporations. The industry buzzword is ‘open rate,’ and few lists of reasonable size get above 50% open rates from campaigns.

Headache Buster: Move To Text

Mobile is a top-three communication channel for everyone under the age of 55, and is one consumers tell us time and again they prefer. Figures show 90% of texts get looked at inside the first three minutes – so use this medium over email as much as you can.

Headache Two: Poor Insight Into User Sentiment

What are you doing to make sure what you do is what people actually want? More specifically, how do you know how well your brand or services are doing – which matters, as it will help you finesse your outreach (and give you data to improve your offering going forward). This is compounded by poor ways of helping customers, which equates to less than industry-standard CX (customer experience) scores.

Headache Buster: Automate & Improve

More and more businesses are recognising that being able to offer a consistently good customer experience is a source of competitive advantage. A great way to do this is to automate the CX side of things to get consistency and better data capture. This can apply across the mix, from collecting payment to delivery management or following up customer service queries – the best driver is automation, which experience with our customers shows will deliver self service capability and speed up response times.

Headache Three: Your Agents Are Too Busy Helping People To Actually Help People

Many of the enquiries that call centre agents handle are low-value, high-rep tasks that could easily be moved to proactive self-service. Why is that a good idea? Having routine enquiries handled by call centre agents not only uses expensive resource, it can cause delay to the customer in getting their issue resolved! In many cases, the customer would prefer to be guided to self-serve, if they trust that the system understands what they want.

Headache Buster: Give Your Team Many ‘Hands’ To Make Work Lighter

This automation doesn’t have to be a highly sophisticated AI, but just extending the means by which agents can listen to and communicate with brand followers. By moving to a more text (SMS) based interface with customers, you can have your contact centre team work with multiple clients at once – far more than they could manage through individual one-to-one calls.

Headache Four: Staff Time Is Eating Into Your Margin

One of the most significant lines in the contact centre budget is staff costs. For most it’s the biggest single line item, and some industry veterans say it could be as high as 70% of its budget. That means making the best possible use of this valuable resource is key to ensuring your return on investment is maximised.

Headache Buster: Use Tech To Get Smarter, Cross-Channel CX

Offering a spread of channels beyond voice is the key to that, as it’ll mean customers can choose the medium they like best (usually, low cost SMS). Use software to handle the vast bulk of your customer contact, reserving agent shift time to dealing with the critical or complex issues. This is a good idea for consistent, quality CX, but also saves cost (as agent time is so expensive compared to automation) and will deliver more value-add tasks to the human link in the response chain.

Headache Five: We Value Your Call – But We’re Not Sure What To Do With It

While the overall volume of inbound calls may be falling, customers rely on the telephone for complex or high-importance interactions. When they do call, making sure you have the right staff to help them is critical to ensuring quick resolution and continued customer satisfaction – but that’s easier said than done when agents are engaged in low value, simple calls.

Headache Buster: Guide Customers Down The Channels That Help You Both

Take back some control here by encouraging customers to call specific numbers at the time you’re best equipped to help them, e.g. at quieter times or end of shift. That means quicker resolution of customer service issues, and more timely responses to maximum efficiency.

The Proactive Customer Engagement Future

Based on what we see in the field every day, being able to offer a consistently good customer experience is a source of competitive advantage.

That means contact centre managers can’t afford not to acknowledge the move to what analysts like Forrester see as proactive engagement.

The good news is that by introducing intelligent, proactive customer engagement solutions, it is possible to transform the way you manage customer engagement.

Proactive means using technology to anticipate customers’ demand, which will result in you boosting satisfaction, solving their problems quicker and improving that balance between team time and profitability that your call centre stands or falls by.

John Duffy

John is Account Consultant at VoiceSage

These issues are dealt with in more depth in this VoiceSage and Engage webinar on 2nd February – you can register here

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