Top 13 Tips to Reduce Customer “Effort” in Your Contact Center

When it comes to customer loyalty and the way it can be increased, improving customer experience is the way to go. To do this, it is important to focus on the feelings of the customers regarding the company. In order to achieve this, reducing the amount of effort needed by customers for receiving the service that they are expecting is required.

Reducing customer “effort” will change the customer experience and make it better than before. Therefore, if you think you need to increase the customer loyalty, using efficient tools including the best call center software is essential. This will be very effective as it will provide a higher ROI for the company.

Today’s population is increasingly hooked onto smartphones and smart devices, with connections to social media, platforms that allow openness and connections. These are means for companies to offer faster and better systems as it offers multiple channels. Consumers also expect high-quality customer experience at a consistent pace across multiple channels.

All call center businesses should be evaluating this part of their communication rather than just opting for the traditional strategies. It is therefore important to use proper software that will help them keep track with these systems.

One of the most important things to remember when attempting to reduce customer effort and increase customer loyalty is to make sure that the customers do not have to repeat their information more than once.
Susannah Richardson of mplsystems.co.uk says:

Why do we still have to enter all our details in an IVR platform, then invariably have to give them again to the agent who finally gets to us and sit waiting on the phone whilst they re-enter our details and establish the background to our request. All of that should be available through CLI and desktop integration.”

This proves that customers do not like being told to repeat their information or even queries more than once. Having a proper software that records this information is a must have.

Keeping the information private as well as accessible to the correct agents is important, but this cannot be done without having a appropriate software. Therefore, before attempting to reduce customer effort it is important to keep all the software systems updated to the latest versions, or it can cause severe problems later on.

However, these aren’t the only thing that must be done in order to help with reducing customer effort. There are several steps that can be followed, and I shall provide you with a few of these steps:

1.    The first and the most important thing that should be maintained in your company is teamwork. The agents should be willing to work together and in harmony, sharing their ideas and focusing on providing good customer service. It can help with keeping the time required to solve the queries shorter.

2.    Always ask your agents for their feedback. By getting their feedback on what works and what does not, you will have inside scoop of the problems that they face on a regular basis. It will also make them feel like they are part of a team.

3.    A good idea is explaining the customer effort score to the agents and being clear about the importance of its role. This will make them feel involved and help them be more proactive with their work.

4.    Paul Turner, Chief Operating Officer of NewVoiceMedia says: “One perception of a contact center is that of mindless, confusing IVR menus, which are often difficult to use and end up in callers being connected to the wrong call handler. Using calling line ID, contact centers can tell who is calling and what their last query or purchase was.”

5.    It is important to maintain a low rate of call backs from the customer you are sending your letter too. This means having a proper reading and reviewing team who will detect errors and the documents and correct them before they are handed out to the customers.

6.    To reduce the customer efforts, you can try to have multiple task levels for solving the queries of customer questions. In this way, it will be easier to maintain different services by assigning different groups to it.

7.    It is helpful to have personal queues for agents within your company. Calls can then go directly to the agents and the whole process is a seamless and smooth experience for both the agents and the customers.

8.    Promote self-service as much as possible to reduce customer queues and keep your agents stress free, especially during the busiest hours. In general, customers also prefer self-servicing for queries that are too simple for any agent to solve. A lack of self-service will add to the queue and create unnecessary irritation.

9.    Train your agents to be proactive. Proactive agents will go the extra mile and make sure that the customer query is resolved fully. They don’t depend on First Call Resolution alone to finish the job. Being proactive will mean that the customer will not need to call the company again and again for the same problem, therefore providing them with better customer experience.

10.    Install software that helps with providing customer feedback on high effort experiences. This will make sure that you get a hand of what’s right and what’s wrong in the company. Actively solving negative queries, especially if it is from the social media, will make your company look good and help with a loyal customer base.

11.    Regardless of the level and function, customer service should be a big presence in all verbal and written job descriptions. Your main goal as a call center service is to provide a great customer service, and you should express this goal as often as possible.

12.    To gather a loyal base, invite and involve your loyal customers in the development and testing of your company products or changes. This will make them bond to you as they will feel special, regardless of the results.

13.    At the end of every call, inform your customers that there will be a survey sent over to them via an email to rate the call. This will make them feel like they have power over the company and its protocols.

The Case Study

I have done my best in providing you with the top tips that will help your company reduce customer effort considerably for better customer loyalty and customer experience. However, the list given above is merely theoretical, and it is not a complete research.

No theory can stand without a proper practical example. Practical examples taken from real life experience is important as it explains to us what is easy to achieve and what needs a lot of time and patience. Since not all companies work in the same way, it is interesting to follow the observations of companies who have tested the tips and seen successful results.

Therefore, I shall now present to you a case study to conclude this article. The case study I will speak of today is of LTS, a call center company who is named anonymously here. LTS is a part of a large mobile phone company, and hence handles about thirty thousand to forty-five thousand calls per month.

In this case study we will talk about the problem scenario along with the challenges that the company faced with regards to customer experience and customer loyalty. We will also talk about the solutions that the lead manager of the call center company managed to come up with and finally, take a look at few of the results.

The Problem Scenario

The problem was simple enough. As a big company, LTS wanted call center software solutions that would focus on the reduction of customer effort and increase the number of loyal customers. In short, they wanted a better call center experience to be made available to their customers, so that they can dominate the business in terms of customer services.

They were already using a good software but decided to switch things up as it was getting too old for them to work with. They researched on the internet for the proper call center management software available and while trying to implement it, found a host of problems.

The Challenges

The challenges that the company faced were numerous but here I will talk about the ones which have relevance to the topic only.

While installing the newer software, it detected quite a few challenges that the company has to overcome in order to actually reduce customer effort.

The challenges are:

1.    The most irritating of them all was that with the older software the customer had to repeat their queries and their information every time they called the customer service, often more than three times to the same agent. This was extremely off, putting for the customers.

2.    Often, the letters that were sent out to the customers were not that clear, with the result that the customer had to call back as they failed to understand it. This was unnecessary as it showed that the company did not have feedback from different staff members.

3.    There was no proper option for self-service. This meant that the customer effort was not being reduced at all and there was no option for the used channel to fully solve any customer queries.

4.    The agents were not proactive, which meant that they relied on unstable first call resolutions to resolve customer issues. The agents did not go beyond the stated needs to resolve the issues completely.

5.    There was no built-in way to collect customer feedback. The company had surveys on a yearly basis which did help them to sort of bigger issues but smaller issues went completely unnoticed as there was a lack of system that reported customer feedback.

The Solutions

The lead manager had several discussions with the software provider describing what they needed to help them reduce customer effort for an increase customer loyalty. Together they came up with several solutions that they hoped would be beneficial to the company.

1.    The customers did not need to give in their details more than once with the new software that made sure that all the information was available at the agent’s desk through CLI. This reduced confusion and help in solving issues quicker, ending up saving precious company revenue.

2.    The manager set up a reading group that gave the agents feedback from different staff members across the company. This helped the agents correct the mistakes and add valuable information that would make the letters clear to the customers.

3.    Customers prefer self-servicing features ninety percent of the time; therefore, it was important for the company to incorporate it as soon as possible with the assistance of the new software. It reduced technical failures and the number of easy calls the agents got.

4.    Agents were trained not to rely on FCR as they can be pretty insufficient in resulting a proper solution to the customers’ problem. Instead they were told to go the extra mile to solve queries and even given several incentives to do so.

5.    The new software had a great feature that promised to keep a track of customer feedbacks, both directly to the server as well as the in the social platforming. Negative and positive feedbacks were separated and taken care of as soon as they appeared.

The Results

By implementing the solutions, the company saw massive changes and reduction of customer effort by a great deal. Agents were proactive and attentive to calls with the newer guidelines, and the software was faster and easier to use by them. With the feedback system, the company was able to gauge how well it was doing overall as well.

It is important to understand and take steps to reduce customer effort to give them the best customer experience, the faster and the more effective the service is, the better the loyalty, as customers will appreciate your efforts. With the above tips, it is possible to improve the way customers feel and increase the overall ROI of your company by checking the call center software pricing before selecting the right one.

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