Gone are the days when a call center relied solely on phones to take orders and provide customer support. Now, customers prefer to contact call centers via several channels. Offering all of them, or at least some, has the potential to enhance your call center and bring your customer service to the next level.
Amping up customer support is key to any business, so it’s no wonder that call centers are doing everything in their power to meet callers’ needs. Sixty percent of consumers rank overall satisfaction as the most important priority for any contact center, ranking above speed or even resolution rate.
For businesses, upping customer retention, improving customer satisfaction and increasing up-selling and cross-selling were the three highest-ranked priorities in terms of customer management. In other words, no matter what your specific priorities, understanding exactly what consumers want and meeting their demands is vital to any and all call centers.
And in today’s call center market, “contact center” is becoming an increasingly more popular term, as communication channels expand to various areas and companies strive to better meet their customer’s needs. Below are the top three channels of a call center as well as information about how multi-channel call centers may change in the future.
Even though it’s the most expensive channel, 80 percent of consumers still prefer to talk to agents via phone. Thus, phones aren’t going anywhere anytime soon when it comes to call centers. Furthermore, the preference for communicating via phone kicks into high gear when the going gets rough.
Consumers are more than twice as likely to prefer to talk to a person via the phone than they are via email when solving more complex problems. In order to make sure that your company is adequate equipped to meet the needs of your customers via the phone you should consider the following basic technological features:
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In terms of fast-growing technology changes in the call center industry, intelligent callback systems are definitely in the lead. Video, however, is a close second. Video support is, in many ways, actually a technological step up from phone calls. Video allows for a near face-to-face conversation with an agent. Call centers that are beginning to utilize video features are fans of the personal connection they create.
Video is also especially helpful for troubleshooting services. For example, Ikea uses videos to showcase how to assemble furniture and some phone companies answer frequently asked questions in video form. Video can also be used as a chat feature, which allows the agent to visually see the caller and even the caller’s issue in some cases. Results show that 18 percent of call center managers plan to implement video support features within the next two years.
We’ve seen a huge rise in social media in just about every other aspect of business, so it should come as no surprise that call centers have also started to embrace social as a means of communication with callers. Now, instead of calling and dealing with hold times, many prefer to reach out via Twitter or Facebook. This can mean good things for call center agents, who spent much more time on phone calls than they spend on any other form of customer support and service.
Plus, social is faster. What may take an agent several minutes to run through via the phone, they can easily tweet out quickly. The public aspect of social media can also help, when trying to reach and assist multiple customers at once. The only catch for agents is that they must work as quickly as possible when it comes to communicating via social media.
More than 50 percent of Facebook users and 80 percent of those on Twitter expect their inquiries to be answered within one day or less. If they don’t respond fast enough, studies show that 15 percent of their customers are likely to leave the business, and many of those for competitors. So, while social media is a great tool for harnessing fast response time and public replies for any call center, agents need to be on their A-game when it comes to speed.
When it comes to the future, we can expect to see an expansion in the various forms of communication embraced by call centers. As new technologies are utilized by the general population, call centers will jump on board in an attempt to better meet their customer’s needs. As such, we will likely see a few changes in the way call centers are run:
For customer-centric companies that strive to meet the changing needs of their customers, keeping your multi-channel call center optimized is often the most important first step. Whether that means utilizing the latest technology to communicate with customers, enhancing agent proficiency and skill to increase customer satisfaction and customer retention or optimizing call center software to create new opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell, managers and decision-makers should strive to keep their call center on top of their game. Because at the end of the day, meeting their customer’s needs is the only thing that truly matters.