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How Easy is Your Call Center to Deal With?

Colin Taylor
There is growing debate in call center and customer service circles as most organizations (89% in a recent study) strive to exceed customer expectations, that this has little value in increasing customer loyalty. Instead loyalty is more generally derived from ‘ease’ of interaction, that is to say making it easy and simple to interact with the company call center. This can mean offering more channels of communication, (57% of customers found the need to switch from the web to the phone to be an obstacle, that the presence of robust chat might have eliminated), offering extended service hours, accurately capturing customer information and nature of the problem or challenge (56% had to re-explain their issue), and resolving the inquiry on the first contact (FCR) opportunity (62% of customers had to repeatedly contact the company to resolve an issue).

“Simplify, simplify”, said David Thoreau and that is good advice for today’s call center and contact center operator. In our call center consulting practice we have seen many organizations that added too much complexity into the process that created barriers and obstacles for customers to overcome. These obstacles can include:
* Overly complicated IVR systems – remember humans cannot remember more than 7 things and 4 or 5 is really ideal,
* Limited hours of call center operation that force customers to contact us when it is convenient for us and not them,
* Not offering multiple communication channels. We want to be available to interact with our customers in whatever channel is convenient to them…not to us. So add chat, so customers don’t have to leave the web to phone us. Offer email from the website to allow this channel of communication.
* Ensure that the call flow is logical from a customer perspective (related to the IVR point above). Don’t mix sales and service options and queues unless this is what your customers want. If it is not logical you will drive transfers and dissatisfaction.
* Offer easy to use self service. Many customers would prefer to get the answer themselves than to sit in queue to speak to an agent.
* Ensure that your systems are integrated or at minimum that the caller information can be viewed by anyone who the customer has to speak to. There is little that is more frustrating than having to repeat yourself and explain a situation for the second or third time.
* Be proactive if there is a high correlation between a stated customer issue and a follow on issue occurring, share this with the customer, give them guidance or tell them where they can find. This can eliminate the ‘next’ call and preserve satisfaction.

Being easy to do business with is a key metric when examining overall customer satisfaction with and organization and it is critical when viewed from a customer service or contact center perspective. Never lose sight of the fact that once a customer is ‘sold’ and has to contact the call center the role of the center is to protect that customer from attrition. The call center protects the revenue stream that has already been secured, making it easy and effective to get what they need seem obvious, but as with common sense, it can be very uncommon.

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