Who hasn’t desperately waited on the phone for ages to speak to someone, wishing for the annoying hold music to stop? Who hasn’t considered throwing their cell against the wall as they were going through the confusing options of an IVR?
I have, and I bet you have too. Did you, like me, end up hanging up and decided to try again later, hoping for a quicker answer and finally getting the service you deserve? A service with no wait times, no effort, and where someone might finally take interest in solving your issue using common sense, and who knows, may even be nice about it!
Hopefully, this isn’t how your contact center operates, but it is clear that if you want to serve your customers with virtually no waiting, you’ll be forced to over resource your teams, and suffer from a high cost-to-serve, and if you’re too efficient about resource planning, you may end up with a negative customer experience. Thankfully, there are a few tricks you can use to find the right balance.
What does good look like?
The abandonment rate and quality of service are closely linked and provide an accurate measurement of how we’re balancing efficiency and quality, especially if we are thriving to make every customer interaction count. Whether it’s a sale or a simple query, it’s a business opportunity that we can’t ignore. But how do you know what the right level of service should be?
As a rule of thumb, the highest level of service that you can achieve is 95%, but as we mentioned, achieving this would imply losing out on productivity as you would have too many agents lying around waiting for contacts to come through.
However, below 82%, studies show that there is a high repeat contact likelihood.
As such, we recommend aiming to answer between 85 and 90% of calls within the first 20 seconds, although you may wish to consider increasing that target for specific audience groups, especially high-value customers.
We’re sharing our top 5 tips to achieve these objectives without losing your mind.
- Deflect traffic with digital solutions and intelligence
The main cause of a low quality of service tends to be rather simple: there are too many avoidable calls. Offering self-service options online or over the phone and using a chatbot for basic queries are both excellent levers to reduce repetitive low-value contacts. Automating as many transactions as possible is worth the investment not just because it will deflect calls, but also because customers will appreciate being able to do it themselves.
Another valuable option is to proactively reach out to customers before they have to get in touch. This is great because the customer will be pleasantly surprised, and you’ll be able to choose low traffic times to use less busy resources.
- Improve contact routing
Intelligent contact routing is a key feature of a good contact center software like ICR Evolution, and it will work wonders to reduce wait times and abandonment rate. It goes beyond basic automated call distribution (ACD) as it allows you to define routing flows based on agent skills, availability and prioritize calls depending on caller profiles. By assigning the right customer to the best available agent, you will also improve First Contact Resolution (FCR) and offer a better employee experience.
- Announce estimated wait time
Telling your customers how long they should expect to be in the queue for may seem counter-intuitive but it’s actually a really powerful tool as customers get to decide if they’re prepared to stay on the line. This will dramatically improve abandonment rate and customer satisfaction as expectations are managed from the start.
A vital point: never ever hung up on your customers once they’ve entered the queue! So many systems are configured to automatically tell the customer to call back later once they’ve been waiting for several minutes, and in our opinion, it’s terrible service as the customer should be allowed to wait as long as they wish rather than having to try again and again.
- Check the efficiency of your IVR
This one may seem like a no-brainer, and really it is, but it’s worth performing regular health-checks on your IVR. The ICR Evolution software allows you to manage IVR options really easily, although over time, you’ve probably been adding branches to the flows and potentially some of these are no longer linked to an active queue, meaning customers are stuck in a loop or dead-end.
- Review resource planning
Let’s get one thing out of the way: hiring more agents is not the way forward! It’s expensive and may not make any difference to your quality of service if the issue lies in how your workforce is planned. What are the peak traffic times in your contact center? Traffic is not linear, and the number of available agents shouldn’t be either, it should vary accordingly. However, this isn’t always possible in some smaller contact centers, so you could also consider using agents for back office tasks or outbound campaigns when traffic is lower, and the other way round.
Of course, it’s absolutely essential to continuously monitor customer satisfaction as this will highly influence their loyalty. With the integrated reporting features of the ICR Evolution software, you will have full tracking and control in real time of your contact center operation.
Download KPI Engagement guide
We hope you found these tips useful. We do know there are many more out there and that each situation is different, but we wanted to share the ones that we feel have the best return on investment (ROI) in a majority of cases in our experience. We’d love to continue the conversation y discuss with you what you look for in a contact center software. Get in touch!