Balancing contact center operational efficiencies and customer satisfaction can be a real challenge. You can use IVR systems, chatbots, and AI to enable self-service, minimize agent engagements and reduce labor expenses, but too much automation can lead to customer frustration and lost business. In this blog we share our thoughts on how you can improve customer experience (CX) and optimize contact center performance by using the right mix of automation and real-time communications. By introducing seamless, multichannel experiences—engaging customers using the right channel, with the right information, at the right time—you can improve customer impressions, increase agent productivity and boost business results.
Fragmented Omnichannel Contact Centers Impair Customer Experience
Today’s consumers engage sales and support organizations via a variety of channels—text chat, voice, video—depending on their demographic and the task at hand. For example, a senior citizen may prefer to always speak with a representative by phone, while a younger customer may opt for a chat session or e-mail for most interactions, choosing to speak with an agent only when absolutely required.
Over the past decade or so, most call centers introduced new customer engagement platforms to support web-based communications (text chat, email, social, etc.) and satisfy evolving customer preferences. Many businesses are now constrained by disjointed contact centers that rely on two separate and poorly integrated systems: one for voice interactions and one for web interactions. As Gartner points out, “Organizations have spent almost a decade integrating channels to provide users with seamless access, but that omnichannel approach has left 85% of organizations with fragmented customer engagement channels, leading to inconsistent customer experience.”
We’ve all experienced it first-hand. You enter a bunch of information on a website or IVR system—name, account number, security questions, order number—and sit on hold for what seems like an eternity until you are eventually connected to an agent who asks you to repeat back all the information you already supplied. Then, the agent transfers you to another agent who asks you to repeat the information all over again.
Next-Gen WebRTC-Powered Contact Centers Improve Customer Interactions
If you run a contact center, improving CX and reducing customer frustration are probably high on your priority list. WebRTC, a standards-based technology that delivers real-time communications (voice, video, text chat, etc.) directly from a web browser, can help you with both. Many callstats.io customers are building next-generation omnichannel contact centers, using WebRTC to take advantage of internet reach, economics and simplicity. Most are taking the opportunity to unify communications systems and rethink the customer experience, introducing chatbots, AI and intelligent routing to streamline interactions and eliminate inefficiencies.
Engaging customers using the right channel at the right time in the sales or support journey is critical to success. But designing efficient workflows—balancing customer experience with contact center performance—can be difficult. On the one hand, you need to support a variety of communications modes (chat, voice, video, screen-sharing) to satisfy different types of customers and different types of support and sales functions. On the other hand, you need to maintain strict control over how and when customers engage reps so you can optimize agent productivity, minimize wait and handle times, and keep operating expenses in check.
Ten Tips for Optimizing Contact Center CX and Operational Efficiencies
Here are ten tips for building effective workflows that balance CX with contact center performance and costs.
- Use escalating communications channels throughout the customer journey (chatbots -> text chat -> voice or video calls) to minimize the use of live agents and contain operations expenses.
- Intelligently steer customers to the right agent, using the most effective communications channel, at the right time in the journey.
- Avoid confusing IVR solutions that are difficult to navigate, and lead to high transfer and abandonment rates, and customer frustration.
- Use chatbots and virtual assistants to collect pertinent customer data, answer basic questions and solve common problems without engaging agents. Be careful not to overburden the customer by forcing them to provide an excessive amount of information or answer unnecessary questions.
- Use live agents to “quarterback” chatbots and streamline engagements, while minimizing human intervention.
- Quickly move customers from chatbots to text-chat sessions for unresolved issues.
- Escalate interactions to voice or video calls as a last resort to handle complex exchanges or support high-value customers. Be prudent. A live agent can handle many simultaneous text chats, but only one voice or video call at a time.
- Use AI and analytics to determine customer intent (why they are contacting you) or sentiment (how they are feeling about your company) so you can route customers to the right agent, with the right information.
- Build a comprehensive knowledge base that sales and support agents, and chatbots can leverage to efficiently answer questions and resolve issues.
- Be sure your reps have all the data they need to help the customer, including any information collected via chatbots, and relevant data from CRM systems or other sales and support databases. The ultimate goal is to minimize handle times and contain customer frustration.
Balancing customer satisfaction with contact center operating expenses can be challenging. Designing effective workflows is both an art and a science. By following these ten tips you can improve customer experience while making optimal use of contact center personnel. Engaging customers using the right channel, with the right information, at the right time can help you increase customer loyalty and improve contact center performance.