The constant problem in any call center: how do we reduce hold times and keep customers moving through our service funnel?
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Well, automating tasks is a great way to save time and money in the contact center. And that makes it an obvious choice when thinking about cutting back those call queues. It can aid both customers and agents in what they are trying to achieve. Agents can focus on other tasks and provide that more personalized experience that people also want when they are helping individual customers. People can also quickly get answers to questions outside of regular business hours, when live agents may not be available.
Things like chatbots are a great solution for optimizing hold times in the call center, too. They can easily help people with low-level issues and always escalate to live agents when necessary. Virtual assistants are an AI-powered technology that is more advanced than chatbots and can also provide great customer service.
Below we take a deeper dive into specific ways to reduce hold times in your call center.
Go omnichannel and be omnipresent
By offering multiple channels of communication it makes it easier for customers to get in contact with a brand. Ease of use is one of the most valuable aspects of the customer experience because people are all about convenience. In fact, Incite Group found that over 50% of companies report their most critical customer experience issue as being able to provide a seamless experience across multiple channels.
With new channels like webchat and SMS, people can quickly hop on their laptop or mobile device and resolve issues or ask questions. Omnichannel is all about customers being able to connect immediately and not have to wait for an agent to answer the phone, only to be shuffled around or placed back on hold.
Deloitte reports that one strategy brands have adopted to keep up with the increasing customer service demands during the pandemic is shifting resources to channels like messaging, which allows agents to manage multiple interactions at the same time.
It’s no surprise then that the adoption of web chat options—including those powered by humans and AI—jumped by an increase of 500% after the start of the pandemic.
Using AI virtual agents will absolutely help you achieve more related to customer experience in your call center. Using virtual agents does not have to be a sacrifice to the quality of customer service your contact center delivers. They are designed to be able to handle calls just as a person would.
In a survey completed by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV), they found that 99% of respondents report an increase in customer satisfaction as a result of using virtual agent technology.
This software can answer calls at all hours of the day and pick up more quickly. This is a major benefit considering that the world now participates in a global economy. So, anyone who may live in a different country or time zone that is several hours ahead or behind can still receive customer service from a business. Not to mention that most people are working regular business hours, which tends to be the same hours that customer service departments keep.
The agent experience is another powerful motivator in bringing in virtual agents. For contact centers with high call rates, this frees up time for human agents. They can focus more on training and providing more personalized service for customers for those who need it, rather than putting that energy towards routine calls.
Self-service is a staple for lowering hold times
Digital self-service options like FAQs in your knowledge base as well as customer support documentation and articles, chatbots, 24/7 web forms, and other digital service contacts can help customers find the answers they’re looking for on their own, reducing call center call volume and associated any costs with customer churn or agent productivity.
Offer callbacks or re-route on-hold callers to digital channels
While the average customer reports being willing to wait on hold for about six minutes, the reality is that average wait times are generally much longer—clocking in at around just under 17 and a half minutes, or three times the ideal wait, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Long wait times like these can directly impact customer satisfaction, which in turn can hurt other business outcomes like customer lifetime value and sales.
Provide a call-back option or supplement your IVR with digital messaging alternatives like SMS to help your customers avoid time wasted on hold and give them more control over what may otherwise be a frustrating experience.
Use AI to lighten the load on agents and reduce wait time
AI virtual assistants are rapidly becoming popular. It was reported that the global intelligent virtual assistant market size was valued at USD 5.82 billion in 2020. It is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28.5% from 2021 to 2028. This AI-powered software can easily be implemented for both customer and employee needs. It also changes the game in the way businesses interact with their customers and can streamline channels of communication for customers who need to reach out to them for any reason.
Machine learning technology means that they are also constantly taking in information and learning to improve functions.In this way, artificial intelligence allows a contact center to continuously scale up their customer service. Of course, virtual agents should not completely replace human agents, as they are still very needed, and this AI software is able to connect a customer with a live agent if the situation needs to be escalated to that point.
Adding virtual agents to your contact center is simple and easy. By seamlessly implementing virtual agents, you can save yourself a lot of headaches and see rapid results.
Get to the root of your hold times with proper analysis
The final insight we’ll share with you on how to reduce hold time in a call center is that Unlocking the root cause of why customers are calling in the first place—and getting to the bottom of solving these problems—can help improve customer satisfaction, minimize calls related to these issues, and save agents from the burnout of dealing with angry callers.
Your call center data can tell you how well your contact center is performing, whether your workflows are functioning correctly, and what roadblocks are keeping your customers on hold–all key ingredients for outstanding CX.
Learn more about how to use data to pinpoint and fix these fundamental issues in our eBook Data Enlightenment for CX Teams.