Whether you are an SMB or a global enterprise, here’s some advice that should help you strategically and tactically to get the most out of your call center. Follow these tips and you’ll have a leg up on the competition and be well on the way to a winning customer-engagement strategy.
- Bring the work back home: There are many hidden costs of offshoring, including labor, transition, operations, and management reserves (managing the unexpected) to name a few. If you have already offshored sales, support, or other customer-facing aspects of your business, your list of challenges is probably longer than this. With our current financial situation here in the US and unemployment hovering around 8%, there are a lot of options for staffing closer to home and using work-from-home staff. With an internet connection and a browser, many business processes can be handled with flexible staffing models and part-time employees working from here in the US. You can manage them yourself or use a staff management company, which can help you with hiring, training, and managing a distributed US-based workforce.
- Keep the “on-demand” in “on-demand”: One of the key benefits of an on-demand (SaaS) solution is flexibility in not having to buy more than you need. Something’s wrong when you have to sign up for a 12-month contract for the licenses that you only need at the peak of your season. How about on-demand that really means “on demand”? Add some users when you need them and drop some users when you don’t need them. That’s what on demand ought to mean: the right number for this month and more or less next month as your business needs change.
- Keep it easy and productive with a connected desktop: Your most valuable and most expensive resource is your staff. If you provide them with better and more efficient tools you will be rewarded! The reward comes through a happier and more efficient staff coupled with a customer experience that takes less time and provides better first-call resolution. The time you invest in choosing and setting up your agent’s work environment (desktop) so that they can quickly switch between information views to help customers or take orders will pay big dividends. They want to do a good job with your customers because that makes their jobs easier. But they need quick and easy access and streamlined navigation to be able to deliver.
- Serve where people want service: Are your customers using your web site more or less today than in years past? I’d venture for most readers, it is a lot more. Does it make sense to actively engage them while they are on your site? Maybe not for everyone, but consider the helpful person at Lowe’s or Home Depot that gets you to the right place in the warehouse to find just the right nut, bolt, or tool. Sure you could have found it walking the aisles eventually, but that can be frustrating. Don’t you feel better being shown the way to the right selection? Chat and phone engagement from the web can provide the same benefit to people browsing your web store. Active engagement, or at the very least an option to click for a call or web chat, provides an opportunity for them to get help while they are trying to self-serve. Helping them out here teaches them the benefit of self-service and encourages them to use more of your online versus live support the next time.
- Don’t kid yourself: If you aren’t asking your customers for feedback as often as possible (that is, at every communication), you are flying blind and tempting fate. Collecting and monitoring customer feedback is the best way to get in front of issues that could be developing in your business. Whether it is phone communications or web communications, determining if you meet client needs and expectations is the best way to win their loyalty for the life of the relationship. Don’t kid yourself and take the relationship for granted. Ask how you did following every interaction and know statistically by the hour, day week, month, and year how you are doing.