Customers want quick, accurate solutions to their questions or problems when they call your contact center. If you make them wait too long or don’t serve them correctly, they’re likely to call you back more annoyed and frustrated than before.
Enter the repeat caller.
Repeat callers are frustrated and more likely to vent their displeasure when they finally connect with an agent. This frustration quickly becomes a liability that harms call center productivity, leads to customer churn and retention problems, and demoralizes call center agents.
To keep your call center running smoothly (and your callers and agents happy), you need to reduce the number of abandoned and repeat calls you receive.
Here are the most effective steps you can take to accomplish this:
- Implement a virtual queue and callback option.
- Develop stronger first contact resolution (FCR) practices.
- Build out a comprehensive self-support directory.
Let’s dive in.
Use callback to cut out repeat callers.
The biggest culpits of repeat calls are callers who’ve called your business, hit a long hold time, hung up the phone, then tried again later.
The Connecticut Department of Labor (CTDOL) experienced this in a drastic way when the Covid-19 pandemic first hit in 2020. Almost overnight, their case load grew by 500% and their 80-person team started receiving 26,000 calls per day. To stay afloat, CTDOL implemented Mindful Callback to handle the massive influx of calls. After one week of letting callers schedule a callback rather than wait on hold, they reduced 60% of repeat calls—taking their call volume from 26,000 calls to 11,000 calls per day.
For More: Check out our CT Department of Labor case study.
When callers can schedule a callback—whether from the next available representative, or at a later date and time—it accomplishes two things:
- It changes their perception of waiting time—helping reduce venting and customer frustration aimed at your agents.
- Callback tech tracks their phone number and eliminates the possibility of them scheduling another callback—ensuring a clean virtual queue and accurate callback wait times and forecasting.
Plus, customers love the option to hang up the phone rather than cram it to their ear for an indefinite length of time. A recent study shows that 63% of customers said they would rather receive a callback than wait on hold.
Pro tip: If you want to create a premium customer experience, let your customers skip the IVR altogether by using a callback widget on your website or app.
Provide the correct answer the first time with better FCR practices.
Not all repeat callers come from long hold times, however.
Your agents must address a caller’s questions or concerns on their first try or risk having the customer call later even more frustrated than before. According to a Microsoft report, one-third of customers say that resolving their issue in a single interaction is the most critical aspect of good customer service.
Improving FCR also has additional benefits. According to research conducted by SQM, for every 1% increase in FCR, you can reduce your call center operating costs by 1% while increasing your customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction scores.
Ways to improve FCR include:
- Surface customer details to the agent. Use a digital experience tracking platform and CRM tie-in with agent desktops so they can see valuable customer information before the call.
- Improve call routing. Avoid general support queues and use your IVR menu options to route callers to the department or agents that can correctly address their issue the first time.
- Train and monitor agents. Cross-train your agents to handle more than one specific type of call or customer. Are your agents trained on how to deal with problematic or angry customers? Knowing how to handle different personalities and customer mindsets can help improve FCR.
- Record and deliver customer context and intent to the agent. When your agents know who they’re talking to, why they’ve called, and where they’ve already been in their support journey, it tees up the agent for a productive and efficient call.
Mindful Handoff fits perfectly between expeirences to collect customer data so agents can go into the call prepared to help. And it works across a variety of support channels—like voice, SMS, and chat.
For instance, if a customer self-serves through a website chatbot but needs to escalate to a voice channel, Handoff collects their information and intent and uses AI to provide relevant self-service options while simultaneously routing customers to the right support channels. This way, your customers can get the help they need while avoiding repeating their issue to an agent and reducing the need for call transfers between departments.
Build a comprehensive self-service directory.
According to Microsoft, 88% of U.S. consumers expect your company to offer self-service solutions. And establishing a self-service directory can reduce repeat callers because the caller has an avenue to find the help they need before reaching for the phone (either for the first or second time).
Self-service directories come in a number of different forms—from website FAQ and help pages to IVR deflection. The best content source for your self-support directory is the customer questions your agents commonly answer. Talk to your customer support agents or sales team to identify the most prevalent issues they hear from callers, then address those issues directly in your support directory.
Every support directory will address different issues based on industry or business, but common topics include:
- Product or service information
- Order status and tracking
- Billing and charge disputes
- Changes in service
- Making returns
Once you’ve identified hot topics that your customers call about and established a self-service directory, make sure it’s easy to use and navigate—whether it’s an FAQ page, AI chatbot, or IVR. One way to do this is to have someone on the team call in with mock questions and have them navigate through self-service. If you find any roadblocks along the way, the chances are your customer has seen them first.
The better you can answer customer questions without them having to pick up the phone, the less congested your call queues will be, and the more energy your agents can spend on higher-profile calls.
Summing up: Key changes can narrow down repeats.
Your customers aren’t the only ones who feel the effect of repeat or abandoned calls. Your agents also need a way to buffer and deflect a customer’s anger when they’re frustrated with their support experience.
Taking the time to ensure customers are helped quickly and efficiently on their first inbound call will always be the first step to reducing repeat callers. Anything else that lessens the time customers have to wait on hold—like virtual queuesand agent training—will also help reduce repeat callers and call abandonment rates.
Fortunately, you don’t have to figure out all these options alone. Mindful provides a suite of capabilities that can help create a seamless customer experience that caters directly to the customer’s needs while maximizing contact center efficiency.
Schedule a demo to see how Mindful can help you reduce repeat callers and create delightful customer experiences.
This post was originally published in December 2018. It has since been updated.