Jay was to be the best man at his friend’s wedding and so he buys a pair of shoes for the occasion from Zappos.com. Unfortunately, the courier routes his delivery to the wrong location and he comes to know that he won’t be able to wear it on the wedding day.
So he calls up Zappos, hoping for a miracle. Lydia, their customer care agent, not only fixes the problems by sending a replacement pair of shoes overnight, at no cost, but also upgrades him to a VIP account, giving him free overnight shipping on all future orders.
As if that wasn’t enough, she gives him a complete refund for his order.
Jay is blown away by their outstanding customer experience and has nothing but this to say, “Zappos has earned a customer for life”.
Great customer service is the key to customer loyalty.
Here are 3 steps to build a customer-centric culture at your call center.
1. Identify & remove bottlenecks in your customer’s call-center experience
The most effective way to build a customer-centric call center is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes, go through the process yourself, identify the various points of friction in your customer service and fix them.
Identify all the different channels through which customers interact with your business. For example, start with the usual ones like phone, chat, emails, social media profiles and ensure to cover the less obvious ones like your website, FAQs and knowledge base.
For each channel,
- List out all the steps required to resolve a customer issue – right from the time when they contact your business to the final step of issue resolution.
- Analyze the channel’s customer service data to find out the abandonment rate for each step of your process. For example, in case of your IVR system, you might find that 6% of customers don’t go beyond the first menu, while 54% drop off after the 3rd response. This will help you identify the weak areas of your IVR process. Why do so many people leave at the 3rd step?
- Typically businesses send out generic surveys that simply ask for suggestions to improve their customer service. This invites a wide range of responses which can confuse you where to begin. Instead, create highly targeted surveys that specifically ask about the weak areas that you have identified in the above step.
For example, if you find most people drop off after you present the credit card options, ask them “What new options would like to see in our IVR credit card processing”. This will help you find out which parts of your call center processes are broken and focus on what you need to do to improve your customer service.
- Also, analyze your call center data to find out the most frequently received issues. Can you do something to reduce their incident volume? For example, if you receive many billing-related calls, can you create an FAQ page about it? If you already have a knowledge base, find out why people aren’t using it. Is it outdated? Is it hard to find? Is it difficult to understand? Do people prefer demo videos instead of text-based documents?
Sometimes, there may be a deeper problem, such as a product bug or a poor design, causing the issue. In such cases, inform the concerned team about it, so they can fix it as soon as possible.
2. Incentivize call agents to make your customers happy
Working in a call center can be a real thankless job, with a turnover rate of 30 to 45%. Every day you’re talking to irate customers about their questions, problems and complaints. Since every call costs your company, you’re also under a lot of pressure to keep the call times as short as possible.
So it’s important to give call agents a reason to make your customers happy. Otherwise, they’ll just see it as yet another job, and quit when they find a better opportunity. Here are some ways to motivate your call agents
- Let people know they did a great job – Zappos is one of the best examples of how to turn customer support issues into success stories. Every time one of their agents delights a customer, they spread the word like crazy. It not only motivates your support team to keep performing but also provides great content for marketing.
- Tie pay structure to customer happiness – Typically, call agents receive a fixed salary. Some call centers do offer a variable pay component, as sales-based commission. However, it results in call agents spending more time pushing their products during a support call, instead of making customers happy. Why not introduce a variable salary component tied to customer satisfaction. For example, when an agent accumulates fifty 5-star reviews, you can reward him/her with a $200 bonus.
- Empower them to take decisions – Most call agents are handed a script that they need to stick to, while interacting with customers. There’s hardly any room for improvisation. Enable them to take decisions based on their understanding of customers and personalize their response.
Equip them with the right tools that provide a 360 degree view of their customers – location, age, gender, socioeconomic status and more. Update your call center software, helpdesk, information dashboards, and CRM with customer data so they can readily access relevant information while interacting with customers.
3. Focus on customer satisfaction instead of operational efficiency
In the quest for operational excellence, most call centers focus on attending the maximum number of calls in the shortest amount of time. As a result, they end up optimizing KPIs such as average call duration, which have nothing to do with customer satisfaction. The key is to improve the right call center metrics that aim to make customers happy.
- Lower Your First Response Time – No one likes to wait for customer support when they’re facing a problem. The sooner your agents can respond, the better it is.
- Resolve calls the first time – 42% of customers say their biggest frustration is having to speak with multiple agents and start over every time. If you can resolve customer issues the first time, it will greatly improve the customer satisfaction. It shows your business understands its customers, and has the answers to their problems.
- Eliminate hold time – Did you know that 60% of customers will abandon the call if they’re put on-hold for more than a minute? The longer a customer needs to wait, the lesser their satisfaction. By eliminating hold time, you can not only make customers happy but also save telco costs.
- Provide a call-back – If you really need to put a customer on hold, then provide an option to receive a callback.
Empathize with your customer
By understanding your customers, focusing on their experience while interacting with your business, and motivating your call agents to proactively help your customers, you’ll be able to build a truly customer-centric call center for your business.