Improve customer service with better call management

Gaining insight into your inbound call handling can help improve customer service.

Many businesses will be tempted to stay with their existing telecoms provider for convenience, but may not realise that they are missing out on improved cost­efficiency and productivity gains by switching to a new provider.

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Providing good customer service is critical to the success of your business.

Within the last 6 months, 24% of UK customers have stopped doing business with a company due to a bad customer service experience. They cited the following key reasons:

› 23% Unfair fees or charges
› 22% Poor product or service quality
› 19% Rude or disinterested employees
› 12% Couldn’t get hold of anyone to deal with my problem
› 7% Discounts for new customers but not for existing customers
› 7% Other
› 4% Inadequate return or refund policy
› 5% Out of territory call centres
› 1% Inadequate environmental policy

Each year, businesses in the UK lose a total of £15.3 billion when customers stop purchasing due to poor customer service experiences. Between calls that never make it to your customer service team and calls that reach the wrong department in your organisation, the potential to improve the customer experience – and your bottom line – is massive.

Faster, better responses

Improving the customer service experience starts by helping your customers reach the right departments faster. Using inbound call control features from your provider can direct calls to different teams or departments using criteria such as:

› Geographic origin of the call
› Phone number the customer is calling from
› Phone number the customer dials
› Time of day or day of the week the call is received

Call plans that route your inbound calls to the right people first time can help resolve customer queries much more quickly.

39% of UK consumers said it is critical for companies to provide more intelligent self-service so they are not trapped in unproductive automated systems.

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft

Consistent experiences for consistently happy customers

Delivering the same customer service experience each time someone calls goes a long way towards keeping customers happy (providing the experience is good each time!). Your call handling processes must aim to always get your callers to the right people as quickly as possible, even during peak call times. Using call routing features from your provider can help to distribute calls appropriately.

Consider implementing:

› IVRs to help callers identify the reason for their call and route them to the most appropriate department
› Call distribution to balance calls between multiple teams or office locations during busy periods
› Call queuing to allow customers to hold until an agent is available
› Call diversions to re-route calls if a team is unavailable, or an office location is closed in an emergency
› Recorded messages to help direct callers to alternative sources of information that might help, like your website, to answer frequently asked questions and free up lines

Customers care very little about the circumstances that lead to a bad experience for them. Help avoid these situations with the implementation of simple but effective call management solutions.

Listen, learn, revise

Understanding why a customer is unhappy is the only way to help prevent future negative experiences. Take note of the causes of customer complaints, then try to find a way that your inbound call handling processes could help prevent the same experiences for customers in the future.

73% of consumers in the UK have ended a relationship due to poor customer service.

Beyond simply listening to new customer complaints, it is also a good idea to review historic call stats to try and understand the reasons for any call abandonment rates. Make the most of a call management system to gain valuable insight into customer call behaviour, in order to make improvements. Find a voice provider who can supply advanced call statistics to help you determine the most frequent exit points in your call flows.

50% of new callers don’t ring back if they don’t get an answer when they call, and 15% of existing customers don’t call again if they get the same experience! (Satmetrix)

“If customer service is important to a business, and they demonstrate it at every opportunity by asking customers how they can improve, the staff will become acutely aware of how their actions impact customer satisfaction. It becomes part of the fabric of the way it does business.” – Lindsay Willott, CEO, customerthermometer.com

Local, human service

Having something in common with your customers puts them at ease. Try to make use of local phone numbers for each of your service areas – even if you don’t have a physical office there. Customers will feel like they are calling a smaller, local provider and can feel more comfortable doing business.

Speak to your voice provider about the solutions available to help ensure you are able to manage multiple numbers and call flows effectively.

› Use area-based routing to make sure that calls are received by the correct teams
› Use a caller identification system so your staff know which line customers are calling in on and how they should answer the phone

A key part of a successful business is understanding your customers. Using a call management system will help you to gain valuable insight into your customers behaviour. This in turn will help you to make improvements to your customers’ experience when they contact you, leading to greater efficiency, improved customer loyalty and ultimately a better bottom line.

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27 November 2014 | Cem Ahmet

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The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.