Even under the best of circumstances, people interacting with your contact center are likely to be slightly irritated, if not completely irate. People rarely call to say how happy they are — in almost every instance, folks make contact because they have problems with a product, service, bill or policy.
Things are even tougher under present conditions.
To better understand how the ongoing health crisis is affecting customer service operations, the analytics software firm Tethr examined nearly 1 million customer-service calls that took place since the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic on March 11. The number of calls rated as “difficult” more than doubled over a two-week period, with customers displaying heightened anxiety and stress.
Technology and support issues complicate things as well. Lacking reliable phone service, high-speed Internet connections, and easy access to management and peer support, agents working from home can struggle to resolve issues. Tethr researchers identified significant increases in instances of customers or agents saying, “I can’t understand you.” Hold times in some companies increased by more than 30 percent. Calls requiring escalation increased by nearly 70 percent.
Cloud Services Key
Those numbers could add up to lost customers. While satisfied customers become loyal customers, the reverse is also true. Studies show that more than half of U.S. consumers say they have quit doing business with a company after a single negative experience. Worse yet, they will likely share their negative experience with a dozen or more friends or colleagues.
With most agents and managers working from home and separated by distance, this isn’t the ideal time to try to completely overhaul your customer service operations. However, there are several steps organizations can take to improve their support capabilities during this difficult time.
Cloud technology has obviously been essential for organizations during the pandemic. The ability to quickly acquire and scale up a variety of communication and computing resources has made remote work on a large scale possible. Several cloud-based services that support home-based contact center agents can be adopted quickly and easily.
Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solutions run completely in the cloud, giving remote agents the tools that they need to help customers. Agents can share customer or product information across different communication channels, and consult with advisors, supervisors or other subject-matter experts to efficiently resolve customer issues. There’s no hardware to install, so a CCaaS can be implemented rapidly.
Integration and Automation
Communications-Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) solutions can give home-based agents a more fluid work environment by integrating communications capabilities such as voice, video and messaging into customer relationship management (CRM) software and other business applications for real-time customer communications. With easy access to the information they need to resolve customer issues, agents can reduce call handling times and improve call resolution rates.
Cloud platforms also feature artificial intelligence (AI) that can improve the customer experience. AI-powered chatbots, for instance, can automate repetitive tasks and create remarkable improvements in the speed and efficiency of interactions.
Although normal business routines are in a state of flux, companies can’t afford to lose their focus on the customer experience. Cloud-based solutions and services can provide your remote contact center agents with the tools they need to ease customer fears and address their concerns. If you’re concerned about your customer service efforts during this time of business disruption, we’d be happy to demonstrate solutions and services you can use to keep customers happy and build brand loyalty.