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14 Sep 2020

Four customer experience mistakes to avoid when setting up your contact centre

Jordan Edmunds, Zing

Here at Zing, we’ve noticed a few common mistakes when assessing how contact centres are set up. Below, I’ll outline four of these – and suggest some simple ways to avoid falling into the trap.

Mistake one: Treating callers like robots, not people

We all like to be treated like human beings and not like robots (even if it’s a robot on the other side of the conversation).

Yet it still happens all too often in contact centres.

Solution: treat callers like people!

There are a few ways to do this, but ultimately it comes down to letting callers make informed decisions for themselves.

Whether you’re using a keypad-activated IVR or one that callers speak to directly, it’s crucial that the system is providing them with all the information they need along the way – and letting them choose their own route through.

Provide options, explain the consequences of each one, and repeat if necessary.

The same applies in reverse: if the caller has made it clear by the route they’ve chose on the IVR that their query can’t be solved by visiting a website, then don’t spend time pointing them there again.

If the caller believes their query will solved more quickly by speaking directly to an agent, then let them – and make sure your operator is properly equipped to help them as efficiently as possible.

Which leads to the next big mistake that can mire the contact centre experience…

Mistake two: Not providing your agents with information captured in the IVR

You’re in a restaurant, celebrating a birthday with friends. The waiter comes round and takes everyone’s order – starters, mains, and sides – tops up your glasses and then disappears to relay the information to the chefs.

Twenty minutes or so later, they’re back with plates of food and one of two things will happen: they’ll either start calling out the name of each dish, waiting for the diners to raise their hands; or, remembering who ordered what, they’ll simply serve up, ask if you require anything else, and then leave you to enjoy your meal.

It’s a small thing, but it can make a big difference to the experience. The same applies to a contact centre: callers want to feel like they’ve been listened to, that the service they’re getting is an attentive one.

Solution: Equip your agents with everything they need to handle the call as smoothly as possible

Again, there are a few different ways to do this depending on the interface used in your contact centre.

If you’re using something like Twilio Flex, then it’s possible to display all the information collected in the IVR process on-screen for the centre agent to see. Similarly, if IVR responses have been gathered via speech, then a transcript can be shown in advance of the call.

In cases in which the agent is dependent on a headset setup, then you can provide a whisper in their ear a few moments before being connected with the caller – passing on any vital information, such as whether the person on the line has already verified their identity or provided their account details.

Whichever approach you take, the aim is to make the time each caller spends waiting to speak to an agent as valuable as possible.

As well as offering a better, more human-centric experience for the caller, this approach boosts contact centre efficiencies by cutting down on time spent going over things more than once.

Mistake three: Attempting to do too much too soon

IVR solutions have revolutionised the way contact centres operate. But they’re not the answer to every problem.

While it’s possible to program your IVR to deal with complex queries, too often contact centre managers will try to outsource everything to the automated system before they fully understand the caller journey.

To borrow an old adage: don’t try to run before you can walk.

Getting it wrong risks people abandoning calls, or trying to circumvent the IVR and ending up stuck in a frustrating loop. Callers that do eventually make it through to an agent will be disgruntled.

Solution: Develop your understanding of the caller journey before trying to map it in an automated system

Simple transaction processes are easy enough to manage with an IVR, but more complex queries might be better handled with a face-to-face interaction. This might put an extra strain on your resources, but it’ll be worth it in the long run if you use these calls to gather as much data as possible on the problems your callers are encountering.

By understanding in more detail what your customer’s journey looks like – and, ultimately, what they want to get out of any call placed – it’s possible to decide more accurately what can be mapped through an IVR or what would be better handled by an agent.

Once you’ve gathered enough information about the types of issues inbound callers are facing, you can adapt your IVR accordingly to encourage greater efficiency.

However, it’s also important to accept that not everything can be automated.

There will be cases when an IVR or redirecting a caller to your website simply won’t do. Recognise this, and adapt your service accordingly.

Mistake four: Providing a one-size-fits-all solution – and leaving it unchanged

Lots of existing phone systems will have been set up by the one person in the company who knows how the procedure works.

They’ll be responsible for set-up tweaks, like adding new users, removing old ones, and occasionally updating any promotional messages a caller might hear.

In other cases, this work might be handled by an external consultancy that charges a fortune to make even the smallest alterations.

Menu options set when the system was first established can remain in place, largely unchanged, for years.

It doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to see how things might go wrong in this situation.

And it doesn’t look good when a caller comes across these inadequacies either: you want your customers to feel that you’re a switched-on operation. An automated call route that shows its age won’t help you achieve that.

Solution: Keep adapting your IVR journey

People placing calls to a contact centre expect the response to reflect their reality.

If you’re calling your home insurance provider the night after a big storm has downed trees and stripped tiles from roofs across the country, you’d expect them to be aware of the event in advance – and to have solutions in the works, if not already on hand.

Simple fixes like surge messages can help. These indicate to callers when the centre is particularly busy and what they can do to be served faster. And the better you get at adapting in this way, the more granular and attentive you can be.

But this requires you to take an active, agile, and flexible approach to your IVR setup: constantly making tweaks to let callers know that you’re on the ball when it comes to their individual needs and situations.

It’s not always easy to get this right, but the pay-off is more than worth it as it improves caller experience and – when used in combination with the other tips noted here – will help improve efficiencies across your contact centre too.

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