During these difficult times, most businesses have experienced a negative impact on staffing.
Many companies have been hit very hard financially and have had to take advantage of the government furlough scheme, and as time goes on, more and more mass redundancies are beginning to take place.
The question we want to look at with regards to all of this is, how is it impacting your customer experience?
Is this a new normal? Or a new now?
Despite the reduction in contact centre staffing levels, the number of incoming calls has in no way decreased or slowed down. But we have seen an increase in inbound enquiries via online activity.
And it is an increase that doesn’t look like it will slow down or dwindle anytime soon. So maybe it’s time we stopped talking about the current lockdown situation as if it were a temporary blip.
We are no longer living in the new normal, we are living in the new now.
Increase in web activity is great, it’s usually a good sign for business, as it shows you are building a strong enough brand that people come directly to you to learn more about certain enquiries or have them addressed.
And if you are receiving more inbound enquiries, that means there is more opportunity for you to secure an increase in sales and revenue.
But an inability to handle this increase in demand can be damaging. Customers don’t want a drop in quality of service, slow website responses or the inability to complete their business as normal.
Also, if you’re tied into an SLA which requires you to resolve all queries within an allotted amount of time, you can’t afford to let things slip.
Customers want a smooth, seamless online journey that satisfies their needs right from the very first click.
Anticipate. Prepare. React.
In other instances where you may expect a surge in demand, you would look to mitigate any impact on your customer experience (and therefore maximise the potential ROI from this surge) be doing three things:-
But what happens in a climate of uncertainty, and unprecedented, often volatile change? How do you anticipate in a scenario like the one we’ve been experiencing?
Preserving brand integrity in a volatile climate
The truth is that this is a situation that no one could have anticipated. And understandably, many businesses have failed to aptly prepare for it.
How you react in times like these is vital. Ultimately, how your business presents itself in the face of adversity will either reinforce or shatter the sense of public confidence in your brand.
Every organisation worth its salt has contingencies and measures in place in the event of crises, and extreme instances of business risk.
They may not exist with exact methods to counter exact issues, but they are a plan to keep oneself protected and minimise the damage at the very least.
Just as disaster recovery and business continuity plans are put together to broadly control any loss or damage to a business, the right tools, measures and processes can also help too.
The discussion points in this paper will provide you with some intelligent technology that can help support your business in dealing with the increase in activity and what you can implement if things start to falter and processes fail.
You can’t address the problem you can’t trace
If you don’t know your processes (for example the online journey) are flawed or failing, you won't be able to react in an acceptable time frame and you may find more and more customers become angry and frustrated that they can't do what they set out to do and have the online customer journey they expected.
If this happens repeatedly with a number or prospects, this can of course do some serious harm to your brand. Particularly nowadays with the power of social media.
As little as one bad customer experience has the potential to reach thousands if that customer chooses to release a tweet naming and shaming.
Tool 1. Omni-channel
An omni-channel solution is a good place to start if you wish to handle a sudden increase in customer communication and interactions.
Many of your customers will pick up the phone to raise their issues, but why restrict your customers to telephone when you can provide them with the option of using their preferred channel.
Enable real-time responses from SMS, email, webchat and even social media.
This offers a mutual, twofold benefit to you and your customers – it frees up internal resource by giving your customer service agents some breathing space, while also giving your customers a greater sense of autonomy and control over their experience.
Using Ultracomms omni-channel solution, you can empower your team to deliver the highest level of customer care consistently across all channels of communication.
At Ultracomms we also use an intelligent call routing system that enhances the customer experience, by directing inbound calls to the most appropriate agent or department for the query at hand.
This hugely reduces the probability of unnecessary transfers and customers having to repeat themselves. Let's be honest, we’ve all been there.
By integrating this into your current CRM, customers can be connected to the most qualified available agent to resolve their issue. This provides a far more seamless journey, and the statistics show that it can lead to a dramatic increase on instances of first call resolution.
Tool 2. Interactive IVR
Communication with customers is key in keeping them up to date and in the know.
Ultracomms uses an interactive IVR which heavily supports this, by creating multi-tiered automated menus to direct inbound traffic.
This can save you time in capturing data, and all information gathered through the IVR can be made available.
If inbound volumes get too high, to avoid increased customer frustration or decreased customer engagement, give them a choice with the Ultracomms SmoothQ service.
Enable them to leave a message with you and be called back at a time that best suits them. This flexible approach will also allow you to maximise your agent resource.
Remaining reactive vs becoming proactive
You will also want to monitor the increase in activity across all channels.
Ultracomms solutions can provide real-time reporting across all contact methods, giving you a complete, at-a-glance picture of all activity as it happens, and allowing you to respond to it with a proactive approach.
Whichever channel a customer chooses, reports can capture the data and provide you with on-the-spot outputs. So if customer activity increases via online and social channels, you can be fully aware of this, and respond accordingly.
Tool 3. Speech Analytics
On top of the fantastic features outlined above, Ultracomms can also offer a Speech Analytics solution for further in-depth analysis.
This can be an incredibly potent tool in the current climate where you don’t have days and weeks to rectify issues, you have minutes and hours.
Simple to use syntax can be utilised for search criteria or category creation, that provides actionable insights into unresolved calls and general failures, faults and flaws of your customer experience.
With staffing levels lower than normal, you need to ensure that every call counts and every customer is heard. The data driven from Speech Analytics allows for 100% of your interactions to be collated, stored, and retrospectively analysed in order to improve.
This continual process of analysis and improvement is imperative to brand management.
By having a clearer idea of what is happening across all facets and touchpoints of your customer journey, no matter what channel it takes place on, issues can be easily raised, identified and addressed.
This allows you to become proactive, rather than simply remain reactive.
Rather than relying heavily on your agents to flag things if the same issue is mentioned on multiple occasions, you can truly understand recurring issues with empirical evidence of what is occurring during your customer journeys.
No-one wants to be hit with negative surprises and let's be frank, you don’t know what you don’t know. So having this data at your fingertips is essential for having a complete picture of call centre activity.
Speech Analytics reveals the full magnitude of customer issues. Call driver categories are derived from looking in the first couple of minutes of a call and each one is searched every time a call is received and mined. This means that if a customer calls regarding an online issue, the category will be marked against that interaction and every interaction that mentions the same topic. This allows you to actively understand the root cause of the failed online journey to implement an appropriate solution.
Obtaining actionable insight in an efficient time frame is what will allow your business to stay on the front foot, maintain strong levels of customer service, and reinforce your brand integrity.
Ultracomms has the tools available to help you react and support the increase in customer activity to ensure there is minimal customer detriment in this challenging time.
Want to talk some more about the tools and processes discussed above? Contact Us