In today’s cutthroat market, the importance of providing exceptional customer experiences cannot be overstated.
In fact, 80% of customers now view experience as a key differentiator when it comes to choosing one business over another.
Not only that, but the standard for what qualifies as a good experience is constantly rising - 67% of customers state that their expectations are higher than ever before.
This is particularly significant in the case of contact centers, as 50% of consumers feel that there's a major need for improvement in the digital customer support offered by most companies.
With all this mind, how exactly can you stay ahead of the curve and cater to the increasing demands of today’s consumer?
And what are the best steps to take if you're looking to improve the call center customer experience?
Fortunately, we’ve compiled the essential guide to help you take your customer experience game to the next level. We’ll cover:
- The distinction between customer service and customer experience
- The importance of customer experience
- Essential steps to improving the call center customer experience
Let’s get started.
Customer service vs customer experience
The terms customer service and customer experience are inextricably linked, but they are not the same thing.
To put it simply, customer service is the support, advice, and assistance provided by your employees and call center agents.
It usually involves helping a customer with their queries or issues regarding your business, products or services.
For example, a customer may reach out to report a damaged product or to ask about your delivery tracking, returns policy, etc.
Customer service can be thought of as an isolated event or interaction between a customer and an agent/employee.
Customer experience, by contrast, refers to the entire customer journey - from the moment they first discover a brand until a purchase is made.
It also includes any further engagement with the business in the aftermath of a purchase and beyond.
Unlike customer service, customer experience is a holistic concept. It focuses on how a customer feels throughout all aspects of their relationship with a brand.
You can think of customer service as one element of the overall customer experience.
Both concepts are crucial determinants of customer satisfaction, but it's important to understand this subtle distinction between the two.
The importance of customer experiences
It’s not an exaggeration to suggest that great customer experiences are the heart of business success.
By providing positive experiences, you’ll make your customers feel valued and keen to come back for more.
You'll also create loyal customers who engage in brand advocacy. Case in point, 64% of customers are more likely to recommend a brand to others if it offers high-quality experiences.
When met with subpar experiences, however, 58% of consumers will not only cut ties with your business – they’ll also flock to your competitors.
On top of that, you’ll likely end up with a negative public image plus a reputation for poor customer service.
And it's not just your brand's reputation that can be impacted - the experiences you offer can also drive revenue and conversions.
This is because a shocking 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a superior experience.
In fact, according to Deloitte, customer spending increases by up to 140% as a result of a positive experience.
Ultimately, it's a proven fact that working to improve the customer experience is a valuable and essential pursuit for any business or contact center.
How to improve the contact center customer experience : Essential steps
Now that we've explored the power of customer experiences, there's no doubt that you'll want to ensure your contact center is going above and beyond in this area.
Luckily, we've put together some of the fundamental steps to help you optimize the call center experience for your customers.
1. Manage call center performance
The performance of your contact center agents lays the groundwork for customer experiences.
After all, you can’t expect mediocre performance to deliver quality experiences or service.
You can track call center performance with quantifiable performance metrics, such as:
- Customer satisfaction scores
- First contact resolution rate
- Average response times
- Average resolution time
- Conversion rate
- Abandonment rate
By calculating these figures, you can analyse how your contact center is performing overall.
This will allow you to identify the areas in which you shine and those that need improvement..
By making efforts to optimize call center performance, you'll empower your agents with the tools required to provide exceptional customer experiences.
2. Identify pain points in the customer journey
A key step to perfecting the customer experience is identifying and resolving their pain points.
One great way to achieve this is through the use of innovative technology like Talkative's enhanced sentiment analysis.
With this feature, you can evaluate expressions of positive or negative sentiment associated with various aspects of the customer journey.
This will give you a greater understanding of customer satisfaction and the root causes of any negative attitudes towards your brand.
By analyzing customer emotion in this way, you'll be able to discover specific changes you can make to improve the digital customer experience.
Another way to uncover customer perceptions pain points is by collecting feedback.
To do this, teach your agents to ask and encourage customers to share their thoughts about their experience.
Alternatively, you can send out surveys or feedback forms for your customers to complete and return.
You can use this information to shape and inform your customer experience strategy.
The practice of actively searching for ways to improve not only helps you revamp experiences - it also emphasizes that you care about and value your customers.
3. Prioritize personalization
Personalized experiences should be a top priority for all call centers trying to improve the customer experience.
Personalization enhances the customer experience by providing engagement and support that is tailored to the individual’s needs, interests, and preferences.
It also improves conversion rates - 80% of customers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences.
If you want to provide personalization, you need to know and understand your customers.
You can start by developing customer profiles using their demographic information.
Then, you need to take a deeper look at the entire relationship between the customer and your business.
You should utilize any data at your disposal such as past purchases and all interaction history.
To achieve this with Talkative, for instance, you can actually send your Supervisor Dashboard back in time. Really.
This allows you and your agents to view the full historical context of all previous customer conversations.
However you plan to gather personal information, make sure you get creative with your personalized engagement strategies.
The following examples are great ways to offer next-level personalization:
- Surprise offers, vouchers or discounts via social messaging channels like SMS or WhatsApp
- Virtual clienteling and virtual shopping experiences
- Social media interactions
- Loyalty rewards for returning customers
Incorporating personalized strategies will not only take your customer experiences to the next level – they’ll also strengthen the emotional connection between customers and your brand.
4. Go omnichannel
In this day and age, customer's crave convenience.
They want to interact with businesses at their preferred pace via their preferred engagement channels.
This means that dated technology and tiresome phone queues simply don't make the cut if you want to provide the best contact center experience.
Case in point, a worrying 67% of customers find it difficult to navigate call center phone systems and are often unable to reach a live agent.
That’s why more and more contact centers are choosing to implement omnichannel solutions.
Take Talkative for example.
With our omnichannel engagement platform, all of your digital communication channels are integrated so that you can manage every interaction within one pane of glass.
This empowers your agents to provide a contextualized and seamless customer experience at every touchpoint.
It also grants you the capability to effortlessly escalate any interaction.
Going omnichannel makes the digital journey smoother for both your customers and your call center agents.
5. Utilize chatbots and self-service
Today’s customer doesn’t always want to actively engage with contact center agents.
Sometimes, they just want to get the answers by themselves – fast.
And that’s where chatbots and self-service comes in.
Chatbots are a popular option for customers looking for a fast and easy resolution, without having to wait for a human agent to become available.
In fact, 43% of customers actually prefer contact centers that offer chatbots to simplify and speed up customer service.
With Talkative, you can deploy our AI-powered virtual assistant chatbot to handle FAQs and simple issues, leaving your agents free to handle more complex cases.
This will not only improve the customer experience for those who like chatbots - it will also reduce queue times and response times for the others.
In addition to a chatbot, certain businesses should also have a knowledge base available on your website - depending on your industry.
That way, customers can use it to find answers to their questions themselves without having to engage at all – even with a chatbot.
This improves the customer experience by providing maximum convenience through self-service options.
Ultimately, for extra peace of mind when it comes to your self-service setup, it’s best to cover all the bases by getting both a chatbot and a knowledge base set up.
That way, your chatbot always has a selection of handy resources to refer your customers to.
6. Improve First Contact Resolution rates
Improving First Contact Resolution (FCR) rates is one of the most crucial goals for any call center looking to improve the customer experience.
This is because it has a significant impact on customer satisfaction.
The FCR metric indicates your agents' ability to resolve customer issues the first time they contact your business, without any follow-up communication.
You can improve your FCR rates with the following tactics:
- Provide your agents with regular, high-quality customer support training. They should be experts on your products/services, as well as the company policies and procedures related to customer service.
- Make sure that all advice/assistance given out is clear and precise. Agents must confirm that the customer is satisfied and that all issues have been resolved before ending an interaction. This will avoid the customer contacting again due to miscommunication or lack of understanding.
- Ensure that your customer support teams have access to the latest information about your business. Aim to keep your contact center knowledge base updated with the latest product releases, bug fixes, and any other changes that may impact customer support.
Improving FCR is vital because, if a customer has to seek repeated assistance for the same problem, they're likely going to have a negative and frustrating experience.
A poor FCR is also an indication that you have a flawed customer support system in place.
This can be very costly and damaging to your brand's reputation.
7. Speed up response times
Another essential metric for call centers to track is average response time.
The importance of response speed in relation to the customer experience cannot be overstated.
In fact, 75% of consumers consider a fast response time to be the most important aspect of the digital customer experience.
You can improve average response times with the following practices:
- Equip your agents with advanced training on managing multiple interactions at once. This will enable agents to be more efficient at handling more cases with greater speed and ease.
- Implement progressive technology and/or automation, such as chatbots, canned responses, average wait time displays and auto-replies for emails.
- Set quantifiable targets for each contact channel and measure your progress. Make sure you devise a plan for how you're going to achieve these goals within a specified time period.
A fast response time means that customers get their questions answered quickly and efficiently.
But it’s worth noting that you cannot trade quality experiences for faster responses - customers demand both.
It’s essential that you strike a balance between speed and fantastic customer service.
That way, you can ensure that your call center is providing excellent experiences that make your customers smile.
8. Don’t neglect the employee experience
Delivering an exceptional customer experience starts with fostering a positive working environment for your employees.
You can have all the customer engagement technology in existence, but it’ll make little difference if your agents are not motivated to use it well.
And that's not all - 89% of revenue growth leaders state that improving the employee experience leads directly to a better customer experience.
Contact center agents who have greater job satisfaction are not only happier - they're far more likely to be productive and deliver a higher quality of work.
To improve the call center employee experience, you should aim to do the following:
- Recognize when your agents are performing highly and praise hard work
- Introduce work flexibility
- Provide constructive feedback and help agents progress in their roles
- Manage workloads and work distribution effectively to ensure agents aren't overburdened or stressed
- Encourage and promote a healthy work-life balance
- Implement reward schemes and incentives
- Employ team managers who are supportive and approachable
- Prioritize employee's mental health and wellbeing
- Organize enjoyable team-building activities and social work events
With these practices, your call center or phone system center will become a workplace where agents are able to thrive and provide customers with the best experiences possible.
Undoubtedly, improving the customer experience is an essential endeavor for any contact center.
In an increasingly saturated market, offering outstanding experiences is the only sure-fire way to stand out from your competitors.
A positive customer experience is also proven to increase customer retention, brand loyalty, and conversions.
By taking the steps covered in this article, you can revamp your call center and take its customer experience strategy to the next level.
But if you want to get the full benefit of these strategies, you need to start with the right contact center software.
A platform that’s specifically designed to provide superior customer service and consultative digital experiences.
And that's where Talkative comes in.
Our Consultative Service Platform provides a complete suite of engagement channels that'll empower your customer advisors to connect instantly, and effortlessly, with your digital customers.
In turn, you can greet, serve, and convert your high-value customers at the moments it matters most.
Want to see how? Book your demo with Talkative today, and you'll discover how to transform your digital customer experience.