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Colin Hay

Is on-screen clutter getting in the way of good customer service?

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Contact centres are still wasting precious time on administration instead of servicing customers. Colin Hay, VP Sales at Puzzel UK, believes the answer is, quite literally, staring you in the face.  Here are 5 tips for improving the customer experience using the latest agent desktop applications… 

Automating business processes and providing a clearer view of what really matters certainly makes life easier in terms of delivering customer service. 

However, just as the advent of electronic communications failed to deliver on the promise of the paperless office, contact centres are still required to deal with online administration which is often a major barrier to delivering an exceptional customer experience (CX).  

In fact, recent research by Call Centre Helper in the UK has highlighted that contact centres waste over 40% of their time handling administrative tasks instead of servicing customers. Much of this time is spent by agents switching between screens and on post contact wrap-up, updating different enterprise systems. The same research showed that less than 10% of contact centres integrate their customer communication channels.  

It’s time to tidy-up the desktop. The first step towards revitalising the contact centre is to get rid of the clutter. The next step is to take a fresh look at the humble agent interface.  Amazingly, it is often over-looked and yet it offers the perfect de-cluttering solution when supported by the right technology. Recent advancements in agent applications mean they are becoming more easily accessible, crystal clear and simple to use. They also help agents to clean up their own messy screens to produce a single contextual view of customer interactions by bringing together all channels and systems into one place.  

Five-star service, five ways
The answer to five-star service is literally staring you in the face. Make the most of today’s agent applications to:

1.Welcome in a brand-new widget concept – new agent desktop applications remove on-screen clutter by supporting direct integration between enterprise systems and agent screens through widgets. Customisable and flexible, widgets allow every agent to be presented with the information and functionality most relevant to them in any given situation without switching screens or resorting to pop-ups.  
This provides a single view of customer conversations that increases agent confidence, empowering them to provide a highly personalised and satisfying customer experience at all times. Look for a vendor that offers a collection of ready-made widgets for faster set-up and effective in-house training.   

2.Easy switching between customer enquiries – the superior functionality of today’s agent applications means that each customer interaction is handled via a separate tab which is opened automatically. This provides easy switching between channels  and customer enquiries, whatever the channel while allowing agents to deal with multiple simultaneous interactions at any one time.

Agents can even customise their screens and highlight the functionality tabs they use most frequently such as queue overview, queue details and personal queues as well as identity and verification tabs for specific partners or customers.

3. Extend social media capabilities – modern agent interfaces enable contact  centres to become more flexible and responsive by providing a far greater choice of social media communications options for customers. For example, they link directly to the latest WhatsApp Messenger and consumer review website Trustpilot.com. They can also scale readily to add new channels rapidly as they appear on the social media networking scene.    

4.Integration with partner systems for vital information – new agent desktop applications connect effortlessly to selected third parties and knowledge -bases, vastly accelerating an agent’s ability to solve user or product queries from one single user interface.  Information on orders, stock availability and delivery times are instantly available. What is more, today’s agent screens support co-browsing to enable simultaneous viewing of products while dealing with a customer’s enquiry.

5.Future proofing for an omni-channel experience – look for a vendor with a forward thinking approach to product development. The best agent applications have been developed with the future in mind as customerexpectations demand a sophisticated, seamless service from contact centres. They should support a variety of customer communication channels, systems and advances in Softphone that enable companies to provide a complete customer experience that meets the requirements of today and tomorrow. 

Spring clean your agent application to re-energise the contact centre and revitalise your customer careprogramme.

For more information on the latest agent applications, visit www.puzzel.com

GUEST BLOG: Ringing the changes – The art of reducing call volumes

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Colin Hay at Puzzel believes focus on customer interactions is what really matters and outlines ten strategies for reducing customer call volumes…

Traditionally, contact centre leaders measured success on how quickly customer calls were dealt with. Happily, many organisations are now questioning this metric and instead are looking at what it really means to deliver exceptional customer service. They have woken up and realised that the inside-out approach, where internal processes come before the customer perspective, no longer meets expectations. What is more, digitalisation has changed the rules bringing with it a multi-channel contact centre environment and a new definition of ‘call volumes’.

Studies* show that inbound voice calls, as the overall number of customer contacts, have decreased. There is now a clear shift by customers from voice to digital channels such as email, webchat, social media and SMS. This trend throws the spotlight on how organisations manage multiple “channels”, the new word for “calls” and if they really need all of those channels.

The real challenge for contact centre leaders is to remove contacts that are ‘preventable’ or ‘predictable’ and that offer no customer value, rather than to simply reduce the total number of calls but how can this be achieved?

Ten Strategies for Removing Unnecessary Customer Contacts

The following 10 strategies provide a practical guide to increasing the number of contacts that provide true customer value, regardless of channel:

  1. Create actionable Customer Journey Maps (CJMs) – don’t just create a CJM, put it into practice!
  2. Know why customers are contacting you – involve your agents, the shop window of your organisation and first port of call for customers and then back up their claims with clever technology such as speech analytics.
  3. Proactively manage the Customer Lifecycle – introduce Customer Lifecycle Management (CLM) to proactively manage ‘predictable’ situations such as new customer welcome calls, promotional offers, courtesy calls and health check calls.
  4. Shift customers to self-service – when organisations can accurately predict why customers are calling, dramatic reductions in inbound call volumes can be achieved by shifting customers to self-service channels. These may include IVR, Web page search and online virtual assistants or digital assistants and bots.
  5. Get it right first time – the most effective way of reducing future call volumes is to resolve queries first time, on time and every time that customers make contact.
  6. Act on customer insight – the information contained within customer contacts, if mined and used appropriately, can assist in better understanding customer needs, improving call scripts and agent training, resolving problems and enhancing business processes.
  7. Make customer communications clearer – avoid complicated pricing, unclear legislative information, badly laid-out or worded forms, letter and bills that confuse customers and encourage them to call for an explanation.
  8. Maintain a unified view of the customer – agents need to know that the person they are speaking to over the phone is the same person who emailed yesterday and made contact via Twitter the day before – and they need to know and understand the nature of those conversations to avoid going over the same issues and wasting time.
  9. Create self-help videos and customer forums – online customer forums have for many years helped to reduce the volume of inbound customer contacts. Bring them bang up-to-date by featuring videos on channels such has YouTube for product or “how to” queries.
  10. Effectively use customer feedback – but don’t just restrict feedback to what customers thought of their last experience. Build feedback tools into systems to give customers as many opportunities as possible to provide feedback.

By following these ten simple strategies, organisations can actively reduce demand for live agent service, add real value to the customer experience and boost satisfaction and loyalty.

Puzzel has sponsored a white paper entitled “10 Strategies for Reducing Customer Call Volumes.”

Download a copy at www.puzzel.com.

Colin Hay is Vice President Sales UK at Puzzel.