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Guest Blogger

by Adam Walton, COO of CallMiner

It may seem obvious that delivering a great contact centre experience is important for your business. But how far-reaching are these benefits, and what role do your agents play in your customer’s overall brand loyalty?

The 2020 CallMiner Churn Index examines the responses of 2,000 surveyed UK consumers to get at the heart of the answers to these questions.

The survey was conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic caused disruption across the world. Health and safety of employees and customers became a priority, and the ability to operate entire organisations remotely became paramount. The way call centres were managed had to change and is likely to continue to change – with most agents delivering service from their homes and customers having new and heightened needs. So, how do the findings of our Index apply to this new world and help organisations manage the vital link between employee performance and positive customer experience?

Treat your customers & employees like they matter

Before COVID-19 many leaders thought that people couldn’t be trusted to effectively work from home – that has been proven false.  It was also thought that switching was good for consumers and that it was only inertia that was stopping churn from growing. But our Churn Index tells another story: customers just want to be treated fairly, with empathy and given reasons to stay loyal. It also shows that suppliers are ignoring the causes of customer churn.

Our expectation is that the huge leap in anxiety and vulnerability for customers and agents in the last few months will only exacerbate the importance of fairness and empathy. The ability for businesses to monitor and understand 100% of customer interactions and identify areas where agents need more support is key in resolving customers’ requests appropriately. Basing personalised coaching and automated performance assessment on 100% of interactions versus traditional manual, sample-based assessments means that the agents will also feel more fairly treated.

Customer frustration is increased with ineffective automated services

When consumers were asked how they wanted suppliers to deliver services to keep them loyal, the advice that increased most (up 10%) since 2018, is to provide self-service options so that customers don’t need to make phone calls to complete basic tasks.

Despite this desire for self-service, consumers called a call centre a staggering 63.8 million times last year to do things they should be able to do for themselves – 34.0% phoned to cancel the service/close account; 29.3% to make a payment; 25.7% to get information about the product/service; 20.4% to purchase something.

Perhaps that’s why most customers arrive at a call centre in a negative frame of mind– with 35% of people arriving frustrated, 31.2% arriving annoyed, 13.1% arriving confused and others arriving upset, angry or ready for an argument!

During times of crisis, this level of frustration has only increased. Organisations have started to push more of their customer interactions to automated and impersonal channels, many of which remain ineffective. The reasons for phone calls have also changed and become more complex, putting an increased burden on agents by the time the customer reaches them on the phone.

By using technology to analyse all interactions across multiple contact channels suppliers have a single point of access to real time customer intelligence. This enables the identification of customers who are using multiple channels to solve a specific issue and highlight the shortcomings in their automated channels that triggered the need to contact their call centre. It’s then possible to make changes to ensure that customers can satisfy their needs via their preferred channel, and in turn, reduce frustration and increase loyalty.

Agent motivation and behaviour are key

The number one reason for a positive shift in consumer emotion is having the caller’s problem solved by a knowledgeable agent (we call them ‘super-agents’), showing that consumers value the treatment they get from contact centre employees.

Agents are now dealing with a very different call mix, as their business processes change ‘overnight’ and customers have a whole new set of problems with which they need help.  This is even more difficult for agents as they are now, in many cases, isolated from the formal management and support network of being ‘next to’ their supervisor and team peers. The right technology can help at-home employees by listening to their customer interactions and coaching them on ways to solve customer needs.

Enable your agents to help customers – it will make them happier and more productive

It’s normal to measure the positive impact of a good customer experience using ‘hard’ factors such as revenue and profit. But it’s also worth recognising ‘soft’ factors too. I saw some interesting research that shows a strong correlation between the well-being, happiness and health of people who are emotionally and behaviourally compassionate.

By giving agents access to the information, tools and coaching they need to perform like a super-agent – one who sends customers away happy because they solve problems in an intelligent and empathetic way – not only cuts the huge cost of customer churn, but will also make your agents feel better and perform better too – with the consequential benefit of reducing costly agent attrition.

To learn more about how to improve customer and employee experience as well as overall business outcomes, view:  The 2020 CallMiner Churn Index.

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