5 Unique Ideas to Improve Customer Service in Your Call Center

by | Customer Service

Ideas for Improving Customer Service in Call Center
Like it or not, your customer’s experience is everything. If your call center offers substandard customer service, service quality issues can significantly impact your company’s revenue if left unchecked.

Think the customer experience doesn’t matter as long as you offer a good product? Research shows otherwise.

According to a study by PWC, 32% of customers worldwide say they would stop doing business with a company they loved after a bad customer service interaction. According to the same study, 73% of people name customer experience as the primary factor in purchasing decisions.

So what do all of these statistics mean for your call center? If you choose to do nothing about a poor customer experience, customers probably won’t be jumping to upgrade; they might just abandon your company altogether.

Before it’s too late, if you make a few (but impactful) changes you can stand out, considering only 49% of U.S. consumers admit companies they do business with actually provide a positive customer experience.

Above and beyond the obvious (like hiring friendly agents that follow-up and don’t waste a customer’s time), a few knowledge management best practices specific to the call center can improve service quality if you take time to implement them.

In the rest of this post, you’ll learn 5 simple ideas for improving customer service in the call center—all involving how agents and customers consume information.

1. Audit and optimize your knowledge solution

Do your call center representatives know where to go or who to ask for the answer to any given question? Call center staff should have the answers to any number of customer questions, from the mundane to the bizarre, at their fingertips.
If they don’t know where to find the answers they need — or, worse, they are overwhelmed by resources and don’t know which to follow — you should consider auditing the knowledge base your customer service team relies on.

While it is essential to consolidate information, it is equally important to supply your agents with immediate access to the knowledge they need to assist customers. This ideally means no tab switching, no clunky searching…just a knowledge solution that delivers answers directly to the agent desktop.

According to Hubspot, 90% of customers expect instant answers (ten minutes or less) when they contact customer support. You should ensure the information contained within your knowledge base is timely and accurate. Only if you have up-to-date, well-organized resources available will your staff be able to provide the best service experience possible.

2. Use call deflection techniques

In this day and age, customers expect (and often even prefer) digital channels like live chat and self-service options instead of speaking with a support representative over the phone. Forty-one percent of customers told Zippia they prefer live chat support over other customer service methods.

That said, one of the ideas for improving customer service it to leverage self service channels. They can obviously help deflect traffic away from your call center…so long as these channels offer great answer recommendations. Check out our self service page to learn how a modern knowledge infrastructure can integrate knowledge (and surface great answers) in your self-service channels.

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Even a small reduction in call volume can improve customer service metrics; agents can spend a bit more time with each caller instead of hurrying back to a crowded call queue.

3. Revisit your agent training strategy

Call center agents need to quickly deliver the best knowledge to customers, and the right answers. Many company trainers (even your own training team) may still teach agents to memorize policies or other types of information that may change in the future.

When information does change, you call center agents may have trouble adopting the new verbiage. Fortunately KM platforms like Shelf have solved this problem with deep integrations into enterprise call center platforms.

Agents should be knowledgeable, but unlike 10 years ago, a modern knowledge management platform can do the heavy lifting, find the most up-to-date policy, even alert agents if a policy has changed—no memorization required.

Take advantage of free call center training

Whether your call center utilizes Genesys, Five9, or another contact center as a service (CCaaS) platform, chances are training is available (and encouraged by the vendor).

For example, Genesys offers a baked-in “Introduction to Genesys Cloud for Agents” training course for Genesys Cloud CX customers; other vendors in the space offer similar programs.

Prioritize soft skills

Product knowledge aside, soft skills are often overlooked but shouldn’t be; they are essential to the overall customer experience. You can find many courses online to help you team with pretty much any soft skill they need, like:

  • Clear communication
  • Self-control
  • Teamwork
  • Time management
  • Problem-solving

Keep in mind an agent with excellent soft skills can sometimes make up for errors or mistakes. Customers appreciate a good attitude, even when problems arise.

Last but not least, if agents don’t feel like your organization cares about their career growth, customer service quality will likely suffer. At minimum, give agents time to voice their concerns and support their career aspirations.

Consider sending your agents to an annual call center retreat or conference to boost team morale; if you offer simple opportunities like this, it can translate to better on-the-job performance.

4. Don’t make customers repeat themselves

According to HubSpot research, 33% of consumers admit repeating information multiple times is the most frustrating part of the customer service experience.

If a customer has already offered info to your IVR, they expect your customer service rep to have it. Unfortunately many customers still must repeat themselves. If your call center doesn’t currently capture IVR data customers produce, agents have no choice but to ask for it again.

Not a great experience for anyone.

Be sure your call center solution can capture and translate IVR data (voice or touchtone) so agents will have what they need once the call connects.

5. Use Answer Assist—let agents skip the search

It’s helpful if your agents receive information customers provide your IVR, it’s more helpful to also surface answer recommendations to agents automatically.

As a company founded by knowledge management experts with contact center experience, Shelf’s KM platform includes Answer Assist technology enterprise call center agents rely on to provide great customer service experiences.

Not only can Answer Assist provide agents with recommendations, it processes customer intent data to suggest the best set of recommendations based on similar customer interactions.

A quick example of answer assist in action

Let’s look at a common example of answer assist in the financial industry. When a bank’s IVR asks how it can help, the customer can reply with, “Open a checking account.” During the time it takes for the IVR to route the call to a call center agent, Agent Assist has already provided the representative with the best possible answer within the agent interface.

Potential answers appearing right before the agent’s eyes saves them time that might otherwise be spent searching for those answers.. Agent Assist shortens response time, boosts time to resolution metrics, reduces hold times, and improves the quality of your agents’ answers to customer inquiries.

Since one-third of customers report being most frustrated by long hold times, Answer Assist can be a great way to boost agent efficiency and reduce hold times across the board if you make it available.

Quick tip: Answer Assist falls into the category of agent assist solutions—but not all produce the same results. Unless these solutions can integrate with your source of truth for knowledge, your knowledge management team must maintain knowledge in yet another location.

Need Ideas for Improving customer service? Start with knowledge management

If you’re thinking of ideas for improving customer service in the call center, knowledge is the place to start. All the technology in the world can sound promising and drain your budget, but if you feed these tools poor-quality knowledge, it won’t move the needle.

You need a platform that serves as your knowledge infrastructure to deliver the answers customers need.

Better knowledge leads to more satisfied customers and ultimately increased customer retention; not to mention a team of agents who feel more capable on-the-job.

To explore the return on investment KM can have on your call center, download our free guide: The ROI of Implementing KM and Automation in Your Contact Center.

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