Identifying and Eliminating Unnecessary Cost from Your Call Center Operations
Running a contact center is always a matter of cost and efficiency. For the average company, customer service is a cost and doesn’t generate revenue. Some call centers generate revenue through collections or sales but if you’re doing customer service, chances are you are a cost for a company whether you are a part of a bigger corporation or an outsourced provider for other clients. The result is the same: the budget will always be tight and finding ways to be more efficient and cost-effective is always the name of the game.
Fortunately, advances in today’s communication technologies have made many cost-saving steps possible. While you can certainly improve operations through better leadership and management, on a system-wide level, a lot of the cost savings you can make will come from adopting new and better technologies. They also have a much faster and immediate effect on your operations compared to hiring, training and producing skilled leaders and managers and integrating them into your corporate culture.
Use an Auto-Dialer
Traditionally, outbound contact centers use auto dialers to improve their efficiency of calling out to potential leads to generate sales. Auto-dialers have been around since the 80s and help sales tremendously, but today’s auto dialers are much more advanced and extremely helpful in inbound contact centers for doing what is known as proactive customer service.
Auto-dialers are easy, efficient, and can do these things:
Take into consideration the best times to dial out to a customer
Reduce the average wait time for your agents
Hold times on the customer’s side
Apply legal restrictions which dictate how and when you can call a customer
Auto-dialers also work for inbound centers. These dialers are called inbound call routers and perform what is known as Automated Call Distribution (ACD). These systems use what is known as conditional routing, where the system collects information from the caller and then sends them to the appropriate department to handle their concern. Modern systems can even intelligently determine who is calling and what their concern is based on the telephone number they use and their account status, offering the customer the most likely option they need as the first thing on their call. This definitely improves customer perception of the entire process.
A study shows that 85% of customers want proactive notifications, and 90% are more likely to do business with a company that sends them reminders. Auto-dialers today can preemptively contact a customer and give them reminders through an automated process known as robocalling. It can tremendously improve your contact center’s efficiency.
Have a Self-Service IVR
One of the more common call center technologies is the IVR, an integrated voice response system which greets the customer upon calling your customer service lines. These IVRs collect information from the customer, then either resolve the concern or send them to the correct agents. Traditionally, IVRs were simply a routing system that directed customers to the correct departments, acting less like a concierge and more like a directory to help a customer find out where to go and who to talk to.
Modern IVRs are much more robust and have the capability of resolving many common customer concerns:
Providing account status information
Direct a customer to the correct self-service systems
Any kind of call that is simple and repetitive can be handled by modern IVRs, reducing the number of calls to your actual agents. It’s a lot closer to a hotel concierge than a directory board.
Moreover, modern IVRs are equipped with natural voice technology, meaning customers can hold a conversation with them similar to how they would with a live human agent. The days of pressing a number to reach a certain department are over and providing key information like account numbers can be done through natural conversation instead of dialing it in through the phone number pad.
Self-Service and Automation
In the end, self-service options are much more important to today’s customers. A good 75% of customers find self-service to be more convenient than talking to an agent, 91% prefer to use a knowledge database with the information they need over talking to an agent to get the same information. It’s imperative to have a robust website with the information customers commonly need about your company’s service. A website account they can log into with up-to-date information on their services and account status is also necessary.
It is part of today’s multichannel approach to give customers the means to resolve their concern themselves using tools that are open and available. When they initiate a customer service interaction through voice, the auto-dialer can collect the information on what they need, then either resolve the concern through a self-service option or direct them to a knowledge base that has what they need.
The modern customer experience looks like this:
A customer signs up for a service or subscription, like insurance or a credit card.
After the initial application forms are filled, the system requires additional information.
This interaction is queued up to a modern auto-dialer which calls the customer and directs them to log in to their account where they can fill in the required information to complete the process.
Later, the customer is contacted again and informed of their successful application, informs them of their status and their bill, how much is due and when.
The customer is also provided with a link to information on billing procedures and potential account service upgrades that they might need on the website. Furthermore, he is also given an option to opt-in for alerts through other channels such as SMS. Then on the due date, the customer receives a reminder to make a payment.
This automated interaction uses auto-dialing, self-service IVRs and online knowledge bases to automate the entire procedure. It takes three different call types and preemptively addresses the customer’s needs, preventing unnecessary calls (follow up inquiry, billing status, payment) from even beginning and eliminating them from your call queue altogether. By anticipating customer needs and taking care of them, the customer ends up not needing to call at all and the beauty of it is that it was all done with automated systems that require no agent input.
Today’s modern contact centers need to not be inundated with calls in the way call centers from the past couple of decades have been. By making use of today’s technologies, you can eliminate unnecessary costs from your call center operations, maximize your budget, and boost your revenue.