It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of the contact center for achieving overall company success. For business-to-consumer firms, the contact center represents the most frequent touch point for customers – including upset and disappointed clients. An optimized, well-performing contact center can therefore have a major impact on customer retention rates, as well as delivering significant upsell potential.
With that in mind, here are four ways that organizations can maximize their contact center value.
"The best contact centers encourage employees to collaborate and communicate regularly."
1. Build a collaborative culture
One of the most important factors of any successful contact center is its culture. Specifically, the best contact centers encourage employees to collaborate and communicate regularly. Not only is this good for morale, but it also leads to more effective customer support. Agents in collaborative contact centers can quickly and easily ask one another for insight when struggling with a challenging issue, or hand off customer interactions to more qualified individuals without frustrating the client.
In a less collaborative environment, these tactics can be time consuming and awkward, significantly hurting the customer experience and retention rates. Considering the fact that a Bain & Company study found that it costs six to seven times more to acquire a customer than retain one, this can have a major impact on a firm's bottom line.
All of this indicates that unified communications solutions should be a priority for any contact center. With these resources, agents can achieve the level of engagement needed to establish a truly collaborative culture, interacting with one another without interrupting their customer service efforts.
2. Embrace advanced customer service tools
Advanced UC tools can also have a major, direct impact on customer service. Today's consumers are much more demanding than those of years past. Offering clients a phone number and email address for all of their customer service needs is simply not sufficient in many individuals' eyes. Instead, consumers want to have a range of options available to them, including video conferencing, SMS, instant messaging and more.
If a client cannot use his or her most preferred channel for support, the company will appear less committed to customer service. Conversely, a company with a well-resourced contact center can go beyond consumers' expectations. In this way, customer service can even become a key selling point, helping to attract new clients while improving retention rates.
3. Maximize agent retention
Retention isn't important solely in a customer context – it is also critical when it comes to staff. And as Destination CRM highlighted, this problem is particularly pronounced in contact centers. The source pointed to an Everest Group Research study, which found that agent loss and recruiting expenses can cost a 500-person contact center as much as $2 million per year. Additionally, the source highlighted a Ventana Research Call Center Agent Productivity poll that revealed only 29 percent of contact centers typically hit their agent training objectives. This, combined with a low retention rate, means that contact centers are often staffed by inexperienced, undertrained agents.
"Overcoming agent retention challenges maximizes contact center value."
Businesses that can overcome this cycle will be far better able to maximize contact center value. The question is how to boost agent retention.
Following the previous steps is a good start. Most contact center agents want to work in collaborative environments, and they want to have access to the tools that can enable them to maximize their job performance.
Companies should also consider embracing gamification. By providing clear objectives and rewards, along with fun-spirited performance-based competitions, organizations can make their contact center agents feel more appreciated, all while improving customer satisfaction – after all, consumers enjoy dealing with happier agents.
4. Emphasize automation
Finally, firms should look for contact center tools and strategies that emphasize automation. Automated solutions can cut down call resolution times while freeing up agents to tackle more complex, demanding issues, increasing efficiency across the board.
Interactive voice response tools are key in this capacity. With these solutions, customers can access their accounts, make payments and perform a variety of other simple tasks that would otherwise require an agent's attention.
By following these recommendations, organizations can truly maximize contact center performance, as well as the value that the contact center can deliver the business as a whole.