Contact centres are changing the way they operate. With various new technologies and online services now available, those centres that do not adapt to the new digital environment are unlikely to survive. People are communicating with each other in a different way, across various online platforms, and so call centres, if they want to remain useful to customers, must keep up with the way people are interacting. Here are ten signs that your contact centres are in danger of becoming ineffective:
1. Not using The Cloud
Back in 2008, cloud-based infrastructure accounted for 2.2 per cent of the call centre sector and the figure is expected to reach 18 per cent by 2015 (according to DMG consulting). This is an extraordinary adoption rate and is testament to the immediate benefits the cloud can provide: including the ability to customise and react quickly to changes; greater mobility and independence for agents; overall greater flexibility within the workplace; plus, no longer do callers have to experience the dreaded engaged tone! Although data security is still a concern for a number of call centres, the expansion of Cloud services is only going to continue. In fact, 41 per cent of directors and senior managers already having chosen their Cloud provider – are you one of them?
2. Resistance to new CRM technologies
As a result of the proliferation of Cloud computing, there are now a number of new customer relationship management (CRM) technologies available to contact centres. According to Stuart Dorman, head of consultancy at Sabio, they include:
- web-enabled technologies
- knowledge management
- virtual agents
- optimised ‘contact us’ strategies
- social media
- effective call steering
- improved contact centre security
- customer feedback
- speech analytics
- and effective performance management for improved engagement.
These new technologies are streamlining the customer experience, as well as providing directors and managers with a greater depth of understanding about the workings of their business.
3. Not segmenting customer demographics
Knowing how different people like to interact is an invaluable tool for the call centre, since it means you can tailor your service to suit the needs of each individual customer. Segmenting clients by age, for example, means you can contact them through the preferred form. For example, if the customer is part of the 16-25 age group, it is likely that they will prefer to interact using social media or instant messaging.
4. Not going multichannel
Offering a diverse range of channels means that customers can choose their preferred way of getting in contact. Some people prefer email and instant messaging, whereas others like the personal approach and want to talk to an agent. Mobile optimized technology is also on the rise and contact centres would do well to account for smartphones and tablets. Research by Genesys has shown that 50 per cent acknowledge how important going multichannel is, but only around 25 per cent of contact centres are truly multichannel.
5. Not using effective call analytics
Peter Drucker, a management author who invented the concept of the modern corporation, is famously quoted as saying “what gets measured, gets managed.” In no industry is this truer than in contact centres.
Knowing where your calls have come from, what your customer is looking for and what led them to call rather than use other methods of communication are vital if you want your staff to be able to deliver top quality service. There are a number of services that can “whisper” this information to your operators before a call connects. This saves time spent finding this information out on the phone while at the same time impressing callers with your agent’s ability to predict their query. Check out this video from Jet Interactive for a full explanation of the technology and what makes it so useful.
Call tracking and analytic technology also provide a number of less customer oriented benefits, allowing you to identify trends in your call volume and caller demographic which could have a big impact on the way you staff your contact centre. Interestingly, a recent study by Response Tap also showed that call analytics were being drastically underused by marketing teams. In a study of over 200 marketing professionals, they found that 39% of marketers leave call tracking to their call centre department, and that 59% of them were in no way integrated with that team. If marketing teams take care to attribute incoming calls to marketing campaigns, it could greatly increase ROI and help them to make smarter media buying decisions in the future.
6. Having a lack of clear purpose and when it comes to customer service
Those contact centres who have gone multichannel may be failing to retain customers, due to a lack of consistency across channels. Managers must work to ensure that they ‘synergize’ their workspace, ensuring that their agents understand clearly what the purpose of the company is, as well as encouraging integration across multiple channels.
7. Lack of agent motivation
Requiring service representatives to read out the same script every day can be incredibly demotivating, and when agents have low morale it usually results in poor customer relations. Agents, if they want to give the customer a memorable experience, must be given the freedom to be human and to express themselves. According to a 2011 Globoforce Mood Tracker report, 65 per cent of employees would work harder if they were better recognised.
8. Not responding to customer needs
Call centres often believe that it is cost efficient to use automated response systems, however these tactics often drive away customers at a rate that is not cost effective. It has long been recognised that call centres need to reinforce customer-centricity by using real agents. Instead of getting caught up looking at charts and numbers – convincing yourself you are doing a good job – listen to what the customers are saying and take immediate action.
9. Attrition of workforce
Research by ContactBabel, the contact centre industry analyst, has shown that 50 to 60 per cent of agent attrition occurs in the first 90 days after being hired. This implies that workforce attrition is an issue to do with recruitment i.e. hiring the wrong people who quickly become dissatisfied and leave. Not clarifying the agent’s role at the start of employment frequently leads to skewed expectations, and thus a debilitated workforce.
10. Managers not having the necessary experience and knowledge
The call centre can be a very hierarchical place to work and therefore there can be a lack of integration between agents and managers. Agents are often promoted to managers without the necessary experience and expertise to be able to make the transition. Having been promoted too quickly, this fosters a sense of unease within the office. As Graham Frost, a customer service veteran, says, ‘potential team leaders and managers of the future should be trained in their new role before they take it on so they are prepared and skilled to support their new team’.
Read more: The Must-Haves for Effective Contact Center Outsourcing
This is a very insightful article that is a great reference for people of short or long tenure in the industry. Having worked through many of these challenges it is rewarding knowing that success is not difficult with the proper people all working toward transparent goals with a defined plan.