The contact center is an environment that comes with a lot of conflicts, not just in terms of the customer-business relationship, but in terms of the common problems experienced by call handlers. Every business has its fair share of problems, but when a contact center representative is on the call with the customer, it’s so easy for technical problems to escalate the situation from a simple resolution to something that can easily damage the relationship between the customer and the company. It all boils down to customer service, of course, but what are some of the common complaints experienced in customer service and contact center environments? But also, how can we solve them, with a combination of technology and best practices?
Long Response Times
With the increase of problems demanding a phone call to the source company, the customer can be left to wait for hours before they get to speak to someone, which understandably leaves them irate. If they explode at the customer service agent as soon as the phone is picked up, this throws into the mix a number of pertinent problems. Customers demand an immediate resolution to the problem. But this is where many businesses are trying to help customers by providing many resources on the website.
One of the biggest problems found in contact center calls is bugs in the system. For example, the customer is not able to put items into their shopping basket online. And one of the first questions asked by the representative to the customer is “have you cleared your cache and cookies?” This very simple thing makes a massive difference to a customer’s experience, and this is why it’s so important to provide a detailed and thorough troubleshooting guide on the website. If a customer is using an Apple computer, they will need to learn how to clear the cache on Mac computers, but this is one small insight into how you can solve customers’ problems.
Remember, in the vast majority of calls, roughly 80% of problems can be solved. Therefore, you could incorporate a number of solutions through the website to answer those common complaints. For example, many businesses are using what is known as canned responses, which is evident in online chat functions. You can use specific digital stock phrases and responses to deal with these problems. This will go a long way to address their problems, especially if they do not want to wait on the phone for a long time.
A Slow Response Time on Emails
There are many companies that encourage customers to email their problems, however, an email serves very little purpose in the modern day. A customer can send an email, however, they will demand an immediate response, but we also have to factor in the context of the email, as well as the overall quality of the email sent by the customer. A customer may very well reel off an email quickly and expect a response, but it is somewhat impermeable. This is why it’s important to have a process in place that deals with the emails, but also work to eradicate this as a form of contact.
It is important to have email as a form of contact because the customer may not have another opportunity or option at that moment. But this is why you need to set up a specific timescale to respond to emails, as well as dealing with them. For example, the rule of thumb with a callback is 24-hours during operating hours. It’s important, at the very least, to schedule a courtesy call, because the longer the issue remains unresolved, it naturally causes the customer to feel angrier, and less likely to use the business services in the future.
When a customer service agent doesn’t call back within the allotted time, this is interpreted by the customer as not following through with their promises. This needs to be incorporated into the central management system. Flagging up information with specific alarms can make the process easier, rather than a customer service agent sending an email to another department, as this will not guarantee an immediate response. Additionally, a customer service agent may not be particularly proactive in passing on information, which boils down to the individual issues relating to business, for example, lack of training. When a customer agent doesn’t follow through with their promise, this reflects poorly on the business at large.
The Endemic Problem of Low Morale
Contact centers are notoriously depressing and dull environments. And there are many reasons for this, however, if a business is looking to motivate employees, especially those employees who are constantly engaged in debates with the customers, it can be exhausting. Contact centers are commonly viewed as the factory line of the modern world. But this is why it’s important to focus on making employees feel like they are able to perform their job effectively.
Many agents feel like they’re flying by the seat of their pants, and this is down to one simple thing, insufficient training. Contact center training focuses on the process, and dealing with a solution using a number of stock practices, however, for customer service agents to be effective in their roles, they need to understand the subtleties of dealing with customer complaints. It’s not just about solving the problem, but it’s about being in tune with the customers’ voice, attitude, bias, etc.
When a customer service agent doesn’t have an effective toolbox to deal with problems, this immediately escalates the issue into something that’s close to being unresolved. This is where line managers have to step in. Sometimes, there are isolated incidents and there are customers who just cannot be pleased, and those are always notorious in contact center environments, however, a customer can be kept happy by the agent de-escalating the issue before it gets worse.
Naturally, the answer is to solve their problem, but this means that customer agents need to incorporate a number of other tactics to help improve that relationship. Of course, apologizing, being genuine, and offering some form of recompense effective tactics, but sometimes, the reality is that the customer service agent is not paying attention to the customer’s needs properly. This can be down to the customer agent not being the right fit for the organization, but also being fatigued due to insufficient flexibility in the organization. Speaking to customers on a poor quality phone system with slow technology only serves to fuel the fire. This is why sufficient training, but also the best quality tech, will make the biggest difference.
What Are the Best Solutions?
There are numerous small business problems out there, and they can be fixed with small tweaks. When it comes to the contact center environment, and customer service in general, we can be someone over-reliant on tech to provide the solutions. However, this is why there needs to be a combination of factors to improve the overall feel and practice.
As businesses need to provide human, tangible results, this doesn’t always appear to be the focus of any business, because they can over-rely on technology. However, dealing with customer complaints is something that can be achieved through frequently asked questions on the website, providing detailed information, etc, but we have to be aware that there will be times when customers need that human voice to guide us through.
If you are looking to improve your customer service, technology is invaluable, however, to do it effectively, there’s got to be that human undercurrent. And this is something we can neglect in the current environment.