Contact centers are an integral component of businesses across all industries.
But despite being an essential part of connecting with customers, they’re frequently missing the mark when it comes to meeting consumer demands.
In fact, a shocking 84% of users report that their customer service expectations were not met in their last interaction with a contact center.
And 67% of customers find call center phone systems frustrating, causing them to hang up before they even reach a live agent.
Clearly there’s room for improvement in the performance of call centers and in the quality of customer support they provide.
But it’s not all bad news – if other call centers are slacking in this area, there’s an opportunity for you to set yourself apart and gain a competitive edge.
So what’s the best way to get ahead of the game and ensure success?
By adhering to the best practices detailed in this article. We’ll cover:
- Best practices for the customer experience
- Best practices for call center performance and employee engagement
- Best practices for contact center compliance
Best practices for contact center success
Let's dive in and explore some of the best practices for contact centers in 2022.
By following these strategies, you'll be able to streamline call center operations, enhance the customer experience, and create an excellent working environment for your agents.
Prioritize customer delight
Customer delight should be a top priority for any contact center worth its salt.
This means providing high-quality service and exceptional experiences that make your customers feel valued.
And with customer expectations higher than ever before, this practice is crucial for standing out from your competitors and creating a positive public image.
It also has a significant impact on profitability - brands that focus on improving customer experiences witness an 80% increase in revenue.
Ultimately, a customer-centric approach is a fundamental for both business and contact center success.
Implement progressive technology
In an era of contact center digital transformation, it's imperative that you don't get left behind.
That means staying ahead of the curve with call center innovation and technological advances.
Unfortunately, you can no longer rely on dated technology and clunky phone systems alone.
In fact, 62% of customers say they would rather “hand out parking tickets” than wait in a phone hold queue or have to repeat themselves multiple times to different agents.
Take a look at the following technologies you can implement to keep your call center relevant.
1. Live chat
It offers speed and convenience by allowing your customers to have real-time interactions with your agents via instant messaging.
Not only does it benefit your customers - it's also been proven to benefit call centers.
Case in point, 90% of businesses who have integrated live chat have found it helpful in streamlining contact center operations.
It's also a great channel for increasing customer engagement and conversions.
Talkative’s customer Healthspan, for example, has seen a 500% increase in customer interactions since launching our live chat - plus a direct uplift in online sales.
2. Video chat
Video chat is a great way to take your call center customer service to the next level.
It's become an increasingly popular channel for contact centers. In fact, the use of video chat software for customer interactions has risen by 70% since March 2020.
With a video call, customers can engage with your call center agents visually as well as verbally.
They can access personalized, face-to-face customer service - all from the comfort of their own homes.
Video chat strengthens customer relationships and enhances the digital customer experience.
It combines the convenience of digital communication with the human connection that consumers crave.
One of the most important practices for call centers is to maximize efficiency and speed.
And a great way to achieve this is with the help of time-saving, self-service technology.
Take chatbots for example.
It can resolve simple issues instantly, and conversationally, which frees up your advisors to handle more complex queries.
This reduces queue wait times and speeds up average response time.
Chatbots also have the benefit of being available 24/7 - they can provide immediate assistance, to anyone, at any time.
This means that your advisors have more time to assist the customers who need them most - those looking for a more personalized experience.
And, in cases where a chatbot doesn't have the answers, it can simply transfer the customer conversation to a live agent.
With the above channels in mind, you may be overwhelmed at the prospect of implementing and managing them all.
Going omnichannel sounds great in theory. However, you can’t simply offer every channel going and expect everything to fall into place.
That comes with the risk of overwhelming both your agents, and your customers.
That’s why you need the right platform. One that makes sure your customers are connecting to the right agent, through the right channel, for their specific needs.
Whether that entails speedy self-service through a chatbot or a personalized video call consultation.
That means you can manage every interaction, from every channel, within one pane of glass.
This empowers your agents to provide a seamless customer experience at every touchpoint.
It also grants you the capability to easily escalate any interaction.
Ultimately, a Talkative omnichannel experience makes the digital journey smoother for both your customers and your call center agents.
Focus on the right metrics
There are many metrics that contribute to contact center performance.
It's tempting to track them all and assign each one equal importance - but this isn't usually the optimal or most practical approach.
You'll likely end up drowning in data and, as a result, the most important metrics for your goals won't receive adequate attention.
It's best practice to choose 5-8 key performance indicators (KPIs) to focus on.
This selection should be a mix of operational and customer-related metrics, for example:
- Customer satisfaction scores
- First contact resolution rate
- Average response times
- Average queue wait time
- Average resolution time
- Conversion rate
- Abandonment rate
- Number of escalations
By analyzing your chosen performance metrics, you'll discover the specific areas that require most attention.
You can use this information to set goals and continuously improve your call center performance.
Optimize onboarding & training
It may sound obvious, but a thorough onboarding and training process is vital for call center success.
This process should be comprehensive and effective in teaching agents how to perform to a high standard.
It should also include a detailed review of company policies and procedures.
By taking these steps, you can ensure that your agents start off strong and provide great customer experiences from the get-go.
When training your call center teams, you should endeavour to:
- Teach agents to be experts in your business and its products/services
- Equip agents with advanced communication and customer service skills
- Provide one-to-one training where possible
- Give insightful feedback
- Continue to offer updated training and refresher courses as agents progress
Ultimately, your agents are at the heart of contact center success.
So it’s crucial that you empower them with the skills and knowledge they need to drive call center performance.
Motivate your agents
Simply training your agents to perform isn’t quite enough - it's also imperative that they’re engaged and motivated by their working environment.
And, as 87% of call center employees report high job-related stress levels, there's certainly a strong need for improvement in this area.
Happy and motivated employees feel a stronger commitment to their jobs, meaning that they'll be more invested in helping your business and call center succeed.
In fact, according to a Gallup study, organizations that prioritize employee satisfaction will experience 23% higher profitability and 43% lower staff turnover.
You can improve employee engagement and job satisfaction with the following practices:
- Praise hard work and strong performance alongside constructive feedback
- Provide opportunities for career progression
- Allow for work flexibility
- Ensure rotas/schedules give agents enough downtime and rest
- Prevent agents being overworked by managing workloads and encouraging staff to speak up if they're stressed
- Promote a healthy work-life balance with a focus on staff wellbeing
- Offer reward schemes and work incentives
- Make fun social events a part of the workplace culture
Agents who are motivated and have the tools necessary to succeed will be more likely to perform well and provide fantastic customer experiences.
Build a centralized knowledge base
Having motivated and well-trained agents is a big piece of the call center puzzle - but they also need to be equipped with essential company knowledge.
Agents should have access to all relevant information about your business, including:
- Company policies and procedures for customer support
- Product updates/releases
- Troubleshooting guides
- Training materials
- Bug fixes
- Answers to FAQs
A knowledge base including all this information is a great resource for your agents to refer to.
By empowering your call center teams with this tool, you can maximize efficiency, optimize customer service, and improve first contact resolution rates.
Know the law
Unfortunately, you can't cover call center best practices without mentioning compliance.
You must take measures to ensure that your contact center is compliant with all of the laws and regulations relevant to your industry.
This is especially critical for businesses within heavily regulated sectors, such as:
- Finance and banking
- International trade
- Healthcare (see our other blog on HIPAA Compliance)
Some of the most important laws that affect call centers are discrimination, data protection (GDPR compliance in the U.K), and product liability.
In the US, you'll need to make sure you're complying with all of the relevant local, state and federal laws.
You should make sure all of your agents are given compliance training. That way, they'll be aware of their legal obligations and what they need to do to comply.
If you're unsure about any of the laws that apply to your business or call center, be sure to consult a legal practitioner who specializes in your industry.
The practices detailed in this article provide a solid foundation for you to build upon and revamp your call center.
But they’re not the end of the story - each business and contact center is unique, and so the practices you adopt must be tailored to your specific goals and industry.
It's also important to remember that call center optimization is an ongoing process within an ever-evolving industry.
Ultimately, the best practice for any business is to always be searching for new ways to grow and improve.
One aspect of this is consistently listening to your customers’ needs and adapting accordingly.
The other part is embracing the best forward-thinking technology to take your operations and customer service to the next level.
And that's where Talkative comes in.
Our real-time customer service platform lets you engage the right customers, through the right channel, at the right time.
We provide a complete suite of personal engagement channels to connect your contact center advisors instantly, and effortlessly, with your digital customers.
This gives you the power to improve engagement, conversion rates and customer experiences.
Want to learn more? Book a demo with Talkative today, and discover how to make your call center interactions more personable and profitable.