Contact centers can be one of the most important aspects of your business and also one of the most frustrating. Between maintaining agent satisfaction, technology integrations, and customer sentiment, creating a highly-functional, top-level inbound contact center can be challenging. But with the right tools, training, and focus, your contact center can avoid some common frustrations and provide customers with the support they expect and deserve.
We take a look at a few of the top frustrations inside the contact center day-to-day, as well as top customer frustrations with the contact center, and their solutions.
Frustrations inside the inbound contact center
Problem: Accessing comprehensive customer information
When agents interact with customers, they don’t have the information they need to provide the best service. The information may not be surfaced in time for the conversation via call or chat, or they receive information in bits and pieces. Not only does this make it more challenging for the agents to help the customer quickly, but it often requires the customer to, once again, share the same tidbits of information, leading to lower customer satisfaction.
Solution: Contact center software that unifies all of the data about a customer in one place.
A unified data platform means your fragmented data sources become one enabling a more accurate and holistic picture of customers in real-time. It also means agents are able to personalize the customer experience and solve issues more efficiently.
Problem: Multichannel overload
Contact centers rely more than ever on the ability to communicate with customers through multiple channels – chat, voice calls, SMS. However, many of these communication methods remain siloed. If a customer reaches out on chat, often they will need to repeat their issue if they’re transferred on a call. Customers are unhappy because they repeat themselves over and over. Agents waste time asking the same questions their colleague asked not five minutes earlier. It’s inefficient and frustrating.
Solution: Bundled omnichannel options
Invest in an omnichannel bundle that allows all of your communication channels to integrate seamlessly. If a customer interacts with one agent on a website, and then later calls your contact center, your agents will have the history of previous interactions and be able to pick up where the customer left off. A bundled option provides a threaded view of all previous customer interactions in one easy to access place, letting agents quickly personalize each conversation. Customer profiles are updated in real-time with contextual data.
Problem: Too many conflicting, duplicative, or siloed systems
Not only do contact centers deal with multiple, siloed channels, but they also contend with conflicting, siloed systems. These individual systems require agents to jump between screens, creating an inefficient way of working. The various systems also mean that the contact center team is on a totally different system than the sales or marketing teams.
Solution: A unified CRM
A unified CRM connects all of the data agents need through a configurable desktop, enabling agents to do their jobs better and more efficiently. A CRM can centralize and standardize key customer and interaction data across all channels and applications. This not only benefits contact center agents, but also sales and marketing teams. Utilizing the same data allows a business to better understand customer needs and create better interactions across all touchpoints.
Problem: IVR path to nowhere
We’ve all experienced the automated messages that lead to nowhere – the voice telling us to “Press 1” until we’ve gone in so many circles we give up. IVR is meant to improve the customer experience and alleviate agent overload, not cause customer frustration and abandonment.
Solution: Keep your systems up to date and relevant for the customers
To ensure the support experience will meet customer expectations and provide a path to solutions, consider testing your IVR as if you’re the customer.
It is also important to make sure product offerings and services are kept up-to-date in your IVR, and across all of your customer communications. Design the IVR experience to be relevant for your customers.
Problem: Long wait times
Customers do not want to wait on hold to speak to an agent. In fact, 60% of customers feel that waiting on hold for just one minute is too long. How do you make sure to provide service to a customer if they’re not willing to wait?
Solution(s): IVR and other self-service options
IVR has several features to prevent customer frustrations with long wait times: providing estimated wait times, saving a customer’s place in line, and scheduling callbacks. All three of these features provide the customer with a choice for how they wish to interact and how they want to spend their time. IVR also streamlines escalation to agents and makes sure customers are serviced quickly by the right agents.
In addition to IVR, your contact center can implement virtual agents that use a set of rules and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to interact with customers. A virtual agent allows for quick response time, while also helping to escalate issues that need to be solved quickly. Like IVR, virtual agents are the first line of information gathering from customers and can often resolve issues prior to needing a human agent.
Problem: Call transfers
Customers are frustrated when they have to speak to more than one agent and explain their problem over and over. They expect the first agent to solve their issue. They expect the first agent to find a solution quickly and without transferring the call.
Solution: Unified CRM and automated call distribution (ACD)
If you need to transfer a call, a unified CRM helps alleviate some of the customer frustrations by providing agents with a threaded view of customer interaction history. Agents can identify customers, their needs, and their conversational preferences and prevent customers from repeating themselves in order to get answers.
The better solution, however, is to avoid transfers all together. Through IVR and virtual agents, information can be collected to help send customers to the right agents. Then, through ACD, calls can be routed to the correct agent most able to solve a customer’s issue. If the customer is matched up with the right agent, there are less call transfers and issues are likely to be solved faster.
Calling into a contact center can be a headache for customers, but there are tools and services available to improve interactions and alleviate frustrations on both sides of the line. With the right systems in place, your business can ease frustrations rather than cause them.