Contact Center Best Practices

Better Customer Experience

The contact center industry is a tough one. It can sometimes feel like an endless weight with no upside. Stressful days, high standards and wildly high turnover plague the industry. But does it really need to be this taxing?

The answer is that it’s going to be as demanding as your company or management allows it to be. Humach has decades of contact center experience and we’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. Through thick and thin we’ve compiled what we believe are the top 4 best practices that all call centers can follow for better results, better customer experience, and better days.

1. Track Everything

Successful companies are fueled by data — your contact center shouldn’t be any different. But what data is important for contact centers? KPI’s like revenue has traditionally been the focal point for measuring the overall success of a contact center. But many managers and thought leaders have begun prioritizing customer satisfaction and overall experience above all else.

So how does this look? Well, in order for you to uncover actionable data you will have to go out and get it. Tracking customer interactions and satisfaction is certainly a great way to start. Customer surveys also provide a proactive approach to data collection and illustrate that you’re interested and invested in how customers perceive your business and their overall experience.

If you’re having a difficult time getting responses on customer surveys, check out this great tips and tricks guide for getting higher engagement on surveys.

Tracking your customer retention rate is also critical. It costs so much more to acquire new customers compared to fostering loyalty amongst your current consumers. In fact, increasing your customer retention will decrease sales costs and improves brand credibility, all while increasing profits.

2. Segment Your Customers

There are tons of ways to segment customers. You can create customer profiles or personas. You can deep dive into psychographics. Or, you can create rubrics based on personality, spending habits or profitability (or a combination of them all).

There really isn’t one correct way to segment your customers, but it has to be done strategically. It’s never as simple as seeing how others do it and copying that plan.  

For instance, let’s say a company spends a majority of its budget catering to purely digital experiences in an attempt to please millennial customers. This sounds like a smart plan, right? Well, what if we come to find out that while a good chunk of their potential customers is millennials, they only make up a very small portion of profitability. That is to say, the older generation spends far more per customer than a millennial would.

In this example, it’s a two-pronged ill-advised strategy.

  • They are spending money on a segment that doesn’t send it back
  • They are creating experiences that are foreign or uncomfortable with their most profitable customers

If this make-believe company had simply segmented and understood their customer better before blowing their budget — they would be in much better shape.

3. Manage Your Time in Queue

Some best practices never change — like making sure that customers aren’t sitting in a queue waiting to be transferred to a live agent. It may come as a surprise to some, but phone calls remain the most popular route for customer service channels (even beating out email).

Over a third of U.S. respondents to a survey stated that the most frustrating component of customer service was dealing with an automated voice service or the inability to contact a live person for help.

This is another piece of data that should be constantly tracked. The amount of time customers wait to speak with someone isn’t something that should be overlooked because of new KPI’s and metrics coming from digital customer service channels. This is still very much a keystone of premier customer service and can have a real impact on your customer’s experience.

4. Hire Right the First Time

There’s nothing more frustrating than dealing with a disgruntled and hardly emphatic customer service representative. This is often the result of poor hiring processes and can have devastating effects on customer experience.

Unfortunately for the contact center industry, turnover is high and it’s become the accepted norm. This leads to hiring processes that focus around filling seats instead of resolving customer issues the best way possible.

Screening hires for the right skills and professionality will save you time and money down the road in training and possibly attrition costs. We would also advise you to seek out hires that have the right mindset and are empathetic problem solvers.

The life of a contact center representative can be a stressful grind. Be transparent during the interview process about the amount of work that is expected and the attitude that is necessary for carrying out the company’s vision. This will save you from hiring employees that are quickly overloaded by work and end up jumping ship.

Always Changing

The core of what we mentioned in this article stays true regardless of what era of customer service we’re in. It’s your responsibility to stay up to date on the small trends and dynamic channels your customers are comfortable with so that you can give them the very best customer experience.

Here are some other points of interest that have become great best practices for contact centers.

  • Omni-channel operations  
  • An a la carte of cloud-based services that best fit your needs
  • Inbound and outbound trained customer service agents
  • The ability to scale alongside your business growth?
  • Chatbot/texting AI capabilities

Wrapping Up

To wrap things up, let’s take a look at what we discovered about best practices for your contact center.

In a time of big data, tracking and analytics will continue to be a necessity. Make sure you’re tracking the right information for the right results.

Segment your customers so that you’re allocating the right amount of your budget to the right places. This is where money often gets lost — so think strategically.

An oldie but a goodie, manage your time in the queue. Nobody likes to sit around waiting or on hold — so keep an eye on this one.

Create strong hiring practices and onboarding processes. This is a great way to build solidarity around a vision and lower attrition in your contact center — saving you money.

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