Maybe a few people will remember the early call centres in the UK in the mid 1960s – the Birmingham Press and Mail is thought to be the first established. They were set up to reduce operational costs by centralising handling for individual communications. Today contact centres are still the centralised handling point for all individual communications but now, the primary driver is no longer to reduce costs but to position the contact centre as the “face” of the company with a responsibility to represent the brand on the customer journey and experience.
In a world that is only becoming more transparent, customers happily or unhappily share their customer experience online. Customers are more prepared to move their business to the competition so contact centres that are not balancing their internal cost targets with their customer experience targets will be at a severe disadvantage.
Shifting the focus to make internal cost KPIs compatible with customer service will make for a cheaper future. Three ways to do this are:
Shift the focus from answering as many calls as possible to answering calls as well as possible. It might take up more time but reduces volumes of repeat calls caused by agents who could not resolve the issue the first time the customer called. Customers will be happier and costs will be reduced.
Motivate and train agents to understand better the customers they are interacting with and to make the contact more personable. People who have had good interaction and feel understood by the agent are less likely to take their business elsewhere. And they might even speak highly of you.
Utilise agent surplus time
Coaching programmes and eLearning can be implemented for staff to improve product knowledge and advance their customer service skills. Idle time might seem hard to capture effectively but new tools such as automated intraday management can do this without risking service levels.
As the “face” of the company, contact centres must be customer focused. Internal cost KPIs are necessary but the opportunity to blend them with the business objectives; revenue, retention and customer loyalty cannot be missed.