The mandate is clear: Brands are putting renewed effort and focus into improving CX across the board. And this charge undoubtedly includes giving attention to your call center. How well your customer experience is received will make the difference between sinking and swimming in this economy. But improving your customer service best practices isn’t an easy process. It takes strategy, planning, and a sharp focus on making the customer happy.
It also requires careful analysis of the customer satisfaction metrics used to gain insight into the customer’s journey. CSAT, NPS, and CES survey data are essential to help your teams make intelligent, focused decisions on what the customer needs. Connecting with customers is the first step to a customer-first business, and your call center is the front line in that battle.
We’ve collected a list of the key tactics and differentiators that companies rely on to elevate their customer service game. Following these will help you plan out how to increase customer satisfaction through your contact center, and ultimately apply that knowledge to your customer.
1. Hire the right people and empower them.
For contact center success, it really is true that your people are your most important resource. Bringing the right people into the organization from the beginning is a key factor in creating a successful team that provides the best service and care for your customers.
Because not only are agents the face of your brand to the customer—they’re also the most expensive aspect of the customer service journey.
Evaluating potential hires with competency testing as part of the interview process allows you to see how they operate in real-life scenarios. In addition, offering training for both new hires and seasoned employees enables you to keep your team sharp and continuously evaluate and adjust as your industry and customers change.
In addition to top-tier training, you can also motivate and empower your CSAs (customer service agents) by:
- Providing them with the tools they need to do their jobs more efficiently. For example, using CSAT, NPS, and CES survey feedback helps agents make informed decisions when dealing with support issues.
- Putting a solid quality assurance process into your call center. Having multiple layers of responsibility takes away the burden and pressure of mistakes. The best help? Personalized survey feedback delivered to managers in real time.
- Strengthening your omnichannel approach. Make sure the call center teams are working with marketing, sales, and product teams to help map out customer-facing issues. This will inspire CSAs to work collaboratively and get support from other teams.
2. Communicate regularly with your team.
Contact center representatives are your front line. They offer unique, direct contact with your customers and have the power to influence that audience.
Offering them a “heads up” on potential problems, key information on changes, and upgrade to your goods and services, as well as the scripts and tools to support these situations, can drastically improve your brand value with your clients. It’s up to you to communicate this with the team, prepare them with information that allows them to be helpful to customers, and support their needs so they can support yours.
3. Make customer service a company-wide priority.
Customer-first priorities are the new driver for revenue—84% of companies that go with a customer-first strategy see an increase in their bottom line. This is why customer service should be the responsibility of your whole company and not just the customer support department. Customer service shouldn’t exist in a vacuum.
Start with small initiatives, like data sharing. Make sure all teams have access to customer data from surveys and call records—maybe incorporate them into the company-wide newsletter each week—and get feedback from your CSAs on what that data means to their roles. Feedback and suggestions from your CSAs are crucial since they have the most direct contact with consumers.
When hiring for CSA roles, make sure to stress customer-centricity as your main goal in customer support. As the famous motto in retail says, “The customer is always right, even when they’re wrong.”
4. Focus on first impressions.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Customers can (and will) easily move on if they feel you didn’t deliver for them on the first try—33% of customers would consider leaving your brand after one bad experience.
When dealing with a new customer, make every effort to delight them. Go the extra step to make sure their experience is not just satisfying but exceptional. One way to do this is by personalizing their interactions. Another is to show empathy by summarizing their issue and giving them options on how to solve it. Your voice should convey kindness, empathy, and compassion. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes.
The best way to make a great first impression in a contact center? Don’t make them wait on hold! Offer a chance for the customer to be called back at their convenience, and the customer will forget all about any time spent in an IVR or on hold.
5. Get immediate, real-time customer feedback.
Technology today affords access to quick, anonymous responses from customers after the resolution of issues, offering insights to your employees about the processes you use in the day-to-day interactions with customers. Research shows customers will take these opportunities to express their opinions of customer service.
According to SurveyMonkey research, 85% of people say they’re likely to provide feedback when they’ve experienced a positive experience and 81% give feedback when they’ve had a bad experience. This feedback is invaluable in ensuring necessary change is happening to keep your team helpful and efficient.
And the real effectiveness of feedback can only come when it’s implemented immediately.
This immediacy underscores the need for real-time contact center feedback to be surfaced to team leads. With a tool like Survey Dynamix, agent interactions can be followed up with personalized, cross-channel surveys, and feedback is then shared with the team via Slack, Teams, Salesforce, or email for immediate response.
With real-time feedback, your contact center team can fix mistakes, improve processes, enhance efficiency, and provide a better customer experience in record time.
6. Offer coaching sessions for employees.
One-on-one time with managers working in tandem with the customer care team can add insights for both parties.
Managers can keep pace with the critical issues and problem-solving techniques the team faces and, when guidance is needed, managers can coach team members on how they handle interactions with customers and how they can improve those interactions.
7. Review available metrics frequently and use them for insight.
Response rates, hold times, general customer satisfaction, resolution times, and other call center metrics can all be factors that give insight into the effectiveness of your performance.
Make sure to gather all the data at your disposal—including CSAT, NPS, CES, and other metrics. Any and all data collected on customers during onboarding (including all demographic information) should also be analyzed and used to create customer profiles. Call center logs, call records, and IVR or texted surveys are all sources of data that can be helpful in understanding your customer.
Evaluate these factors and use them to influence your decisions. Increase shifts when customers’ need volume increases, offer better information-sourcing for your team and display those KPIs to help the team focus on the goal. When you have insight into important factors in your customer’s journey, share it and help to ensure the team is working toward the same goal.
8. Communicate consistently across all customer channels.
Ensuring that the entire suite of your omnichannel solutions is on message makes for a better experience for your customers, and that allows you to ensure successful contact center interactions.
Evaluate the messaging you broadcast through each and every communication channel your company has. Does the message you convey on your website match the message and attitude delivered by your contact center? Do the letters you send in the mail offer the same offers, messages, and conflict resolution steps you support digitally?
9. Maintain your focus on the customer.
Never lose sight of the customer as your number-one priority! If you want your contact center to succeed, make every goal point toward one directive: satisfying the customer.
There may be other goals and objectives your business or strategists have in mind, but they’re secondary to a customer-centric mindset.
Start by making sure your customer service standards are clearly defined throughout your company. Make sure all channels in your business are focused on a customer-first framework. Always ask, “What can we do to make the customer happier?” and then make those your company goals.
Customer service isn’t a guessing game. Customer service teams must have the resources available to them to perform at or above their consumers’ expectations.
The good news is that there are clear metrics available to today’s customer service teams that allow them to evaluate their performance and make changes to their systems to reflect positive improvements.
It falls upon the contact center management team to make these metrics available to those who need them and utilize them to improve their processes. Following these best practices can change the way customers perceive your team and build loyal, positive relationships that last well beyond the last contact your team fields from that customer.
This post was originally published in October 2017, and has since been updated.