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Follow these simple steps and you’ll be rewarded with high-performing agents and an organisation-wide joined-up approach to customer service

Colin Hay at Puzzel outlines 5 smarter ways of working to minimise customer effort starting with eliminating dumb contacts

Customers want a simple, convenient and low effort resolution to their enquiries and interactions. However, industry research suggests that the reverse is true with the majority of consumers facing challenges such as re-explaining their issue, switching from web to phone, being constantly transferred and having to contact an organisation several times to resolve their issue!(i) Too many organisations focus on internally-driven metrics such as average handling time (AHT) which are typically inappropriate for customers with delicate confidential or high value enquiries requiring time and advanced agent skill sets to solve.

What is more, social media and the Internet has radically changed consumer behaviour with many customers turning to other sources of information first before resorting to the contact centre. Today, people regularly use Facebook and Twitter to air their grievances or they look up one of the thousands of ‘How to videos’ on YouTube to retrieve the knowledge and support they need. One thing is clear, when customers do eventually reach the contact centre they are often halfway through their customer journey and expect the next level of service to complete it!

In the book ‘The Best Service is No Service’, one of Amazon’s top-selling business books, authors Bill Price and David Jaffe outline the eight principles of ‘best service’ leadership. ‘Eliminate dumb contacts’ is in the first three. Dumb contacts are generally the result of failing to understand why customers contact you and then adding to the problem by making it difficult for them to get in touch.

5 Ways to reduce customer effort in contact centres
Here are a 5 ways get back on track to reducing customer effort and to eliminating dumb contacts in your contact centre.

1.Look to front line staff to capture the voice of the customer - contact centre agents represent the shop window to your organisation, therefore encourage them to speak directly to customers to gain first-hand insight into their needs and aspirations rather than relying on other mechanisms such as anonymous and somewhat detached surveys.
Then combine agent feedback with speech analytics and silent monitoring to capture the voice of the customer. However, be sure to follow up on this valuable source of business intelligence. What can you learn from individual customer interactions? Use both good and the bad feedback to understand what can be done to deliver a relevant and low effort customer experience.

2.Why are customers contacting you? - customers want their products and services yesterday. A master of delivery is Amazon, the company’s whole value proposition is about delivery. Take a look at the Amazon website and the first thing that catches your eye is the prominence of same or next-day delivery messages. Now, compare your own company’s website – how does it look? Does it make it easy for customers? Can they find the information they need and the products they want to buy quickly and effortlessly with guaranteed delivery times?

3.Use the same language – put yourself in your customers’ shoes, how many times have you wanted a simple answer to ‘I don’t understand your letter’ or ‘where’s my money?’ only to be left hanging on the end of the line or Chat conversation for what seems like hours? Prominently display frequently asked questions (FAQs) and knowledge bases, to help both customers and agents find answers to the most common questions easily.

Be sure to share customer stories with other parts of the organisation to create a unified understanding and response to common customer issues. That way, the customer doesn’t end up with five identical bills or letters chasing for money after their account is closed. That’s just dumb!

4.Encourage engaging customer service - use technology to reduce customer effort. Help customers to self-serve at a time to suit them. Use IVR to automate routine calls such as balance look-ups, payment of bills, purchasing tickets or flights but make the experience engaging. For example, take speech recognition technology - it can bring a human element to IVR. Customers can speak to your organisation with the added bonus of round-the-block self-service availability.

5.Tap into the latest innovations – channel switching, voice biometrics and geolocation will soon appear on product roadmaps everywhere. For example, when Affinity Water, a long standing Puzzel customer, becomes aware of a burst pipe or interruption in supply that event triggers an automatic response for callers in the affected area based on geo-location data. When they call in, they receive a message advising that the organisation knows there is a problem and that it is working fast to resolve it. This saves customers having to trawl through long IVR menus thereby creating minimal customer effort and maximum customer confidence all rolled into one.

Why be a dumb contact centre when you can be a smart one? Follow these simple steps and you’ll be rewarded with high-performing agents and an organisation-wide joined-up approach to customer service aswell as customers who receive the next level of service with very little effort on their part.

Colin Hay is VP sales at Puzzel (UK) formerly Intelecom

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About Puzzel
Puzzel builds on 20 years’ heritage. It was one of the first pioneers to develop a cloud-based contact centre. Puzzel also encompasses leading mobile messaging and mobile payments to deliver a flexible and customisable customer interaction platform to meet the needs of today’s omni-channel and mobile environments. Puzzel can be adapted to accommodate from one to several thousand agents using any device, in any location and integrates with multiple applications seamlessly.
Headquartered in Oslo, Norway, Puzzel employs over 130 people who are all passionate about delivering innovative customer interaction solutions for contact centres and mobile environments.

For more information please visit PUZZEL
Press contact: Mary Phillips/Andreina West
PR Artistry Limited
T: +44 (0)1491 845553
E: mary@pra-ltd.co.uk

(i) Harvard Business Review – 56% report having to re-explain an issue, 57% report having to switch from web to phone, 58% report having to expend moderate to high effort to resolve an issue, 59% report being transferred and 62% report repeat contacts to a company to resolve an issue.

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