5 ways to evolve customer service in your contact center

November 27, 2017 | Customer Experience | Blog
Dinosaur bones

How to build greater flexibility and quality into contact center interactions

Customer care executives know customer experience should be a top priority, but few consistently take the necessary actions to drive improvements. While 81% of executives say that customer experience is essential to their competitiveness, just 20% follow a defined customer experience process, according to Deloitte’s 2017 Global Contact Center Survey.

How can you improve contact center customer service?

Create greater flexibility to handle fluctuating call volume

The No. 1 customer complaint about contact centers on Twitter is long hold times. In fact, a Forrester report finds that valuing customers’ time is the most influential thing you can do to create greater customer satisfaction.

The ability to handle peaks and valleys in call volume is essential to achieving reasonable hold times. However, traditionally structured customer service organizations, such as those with full-time, 9-to-5 employees, struggle to keep up when call volumes are higher than expected.

An “on-demand” workforce can scale as much as three times the number of agents in just hours. By making an on-demand, flexible workforce part of the customer service mix, you can ensure you have enough high-performing agents available to respond to customers in a timely manner during peak times.

Select agents for skills, not just geographic availability

A key trend in customer service is automation, which enables businesses to deliver service affordably and effectively, especially for simpler, repetitive service tasks. Gartner predicts that by 2020, 85% of customer relationships will be automated, with technology replacing automated, routine jobs.

But for unique, high-touch interactions, you need skilled workers with empathy and friendliness, who build trust and credibility through their use of local language, cultural proficiency and superior product knowledge.

Where do you find people with these skills? Through internet connectivity, companies can reach far-flung, flexible workers at scale and use them as on-demand workforces. And with no geographical limitations to hiring, a flexible workforce enables you to select a higher-caliber agent. Many of these agents are former professionals who are now stay-at-home parents, caregivers, retired, working with a disability, or live in rural America where job opportunities are not as abundant.

Real Liveops agents like Shirley (left), Rebecca (center), and Mary, all from Georgia, exemplify the experience, empathy, and professionalism that are the hallmark of our agents.

Monitor results, learn from them and optimize

Successful enterprise organizations ensure an excellent customer experience on an ongoing basis, especially when leveraging an outsourced, flexible delivery model through performance monitoring and real-time corrective action.

To improve customer experience, you must have real-time access to key performance indicators (KPIs) so you can accurately monitor and assess the quality of agent-customer interactions. Not all contact centers offer this level of monitoring, and many that provide lots of data don’t deliver that long-term historical information, which is critical for  greater insight.

Accelerate agent learning and readiness

The KPIs mentioned above will not only help you monitor customer service effectiveness in real time, but also provide key data to implement and measure the effectiveness of eLearning courses.

Don’t think of agent skill development as one-time event—consider the agent’s entire lifecycle. In addition to before-you-begin certification modules, you can work with agents to further hone their effectiveness with role-playing sessions and gamification, all of which are designed to drive more efficient and effective performance.

In fact, eLearning and gamification have increased agent performance by 30%, while also reducing operating costs by 45%.

Choose a more relatable domestic workforce

Another major frustration customers share is when they can’t understand or communicate with agents due to language barriers, accents, or cultural differences. In high-touch interactions, this shared understanding between customers and agents is essential.

According to the CFI Group in a contact center satisfaction study of 1,500 adults, customers who reached foreign agents were 52% more likely to have to speak to more than one representative, 10% less likely to resolve an inquiry, and 25% less likely to resolve the inquiry on the first call.

It is often a challenge for traditional contact centers to find US-based workers, because they are limited by their geography to recruiting only from the pool of available workers willing to drive to their brick-and-mortar centers.

However, virtual agents can be sourced from anywhere in the US, including from rural communities where employment options are limited, but language and cultural knowledge are second nature.

A flexibible workforce is ready to work—what are you waiting for?

Every customer service executive is looking for business agility, flexibility and cost effectiveness—without sacrificing quality. If your workforce today isn’t as flexible as your business requires, or isn’t delivering the customer satisfaction your brand demands, consider using flexible, on-demand talent to supplement permanent staff.

At Liveops, we believe the traditional contact center industry is ripe for a new, more modern approach. Our virtual agents have the flexibility to work around their lives, and as a result, create higher margins and increased customer satisfaction, with an on-demand cost model that further improves your bottom line.

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Stephanie Stouck

Stephanie is director of solutions marketing at Liveops. She specializes in developing deep insights in the call center industry to create innovative solutions that maximize business agility and quality.