The telephone used to be the primary device to connect companies with customers. Many companies have replaced the term “call center” with “contact center,” because the telephone is no longer the only means of communication that customers use.
Call/contact center reps now use new technologies and communication channels that extend beyond the telephone. Customers can now receive service regardless of the method of communication they use, be it voice, text, email, live chat, the company website or social media.
Here are 5 more trends that will make call centers more modern and responsive.
Collaboration Helps to Solve Problems
Customers who call contact centers often have questions that are often more complicated than open-and-shut. Call centers must familiarize their agents and adjust their entire platforms to accommodate complicated scenarios.
Quicker, self-paced learning tools can help agents to learn how to answer more complex questions they often face. Being able to collaborate with their colleagues is also effective for helping to answer a caller’s questions and helps with agent skill-building.
According to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, call centers where agents could ask for help and were supported in a network environment, performed 50 percent better than the average call center.
An environment in which reps can rely on advice and guidance from colleagues, reduces the risk of agent error by 25 percent, as compared to the average call center, according to the study.
Increased Job Satisfaction
The average annual turnover rate for a customer service rep is 29 percent. The average length of time a call center worker stays in the job is about 3.3 years. Much of this can be attributed to the fact that reps must conform to the call center’s schedule and conform to the call center policies for a relatively low wage. Because of these things, the pool of willing workers within the call center’s geographic area is often very limited.
A call center can save on the costs associated with constantly looking for and training new workers, by making the job more appealing. These issues can be solved by offering radically flexible schedules and self-directed management, rather than the heavy-hand supervision of employees.
Freelance workers often report significantly higher work satisfaction, are more likely to feel engaged with their jobs and stay longer than traditionally-employed workers. This is according to a study by Upwork, a platform that connects employers with freelancers all over the world.
More specifically, 85 percent of freelancers vs 68 percent of non-freelancers describe themselves as engaged.
Culturally Savvy Workers
The need for digitally and culturally savvy reps is going to increase, lessening the need for low-cost overseas labour. Agents receive calls from customers who come from different countries and cultures all the time. For call center agents, it’s important to talk to customers in a culturally respectful way, in order not to have a negative impact on customer relations. Cultural sensitivity training is especially relevant for call center agents.
Also, by hiring reps from different cultures, a call center can provide customer service in several different languages, allowing reps to work with clients from anywhere in the world. Outsourcing companies can establish a global presence and optimize the customer experience.
Even just putting together people with varying characteristics has been shown to lead to better organizational performance.
Embracing a Customer-Centric Culture
By capitalizing on the above trends and preparing reps to deliver service excellence with dynamic learning tools, companies are well on their way to establishing top-notch customer service.
In traditional call centers, reps are hired and managed in much the same way they always have been. That often means classroom-based learning that progresses at the pace of the slowest learner. Training delivery should be tailored to remote workforces, individual learning speed and individual learning styles.
A delicate balance must be met when it comes to staffing. Overstaffing wastes money by paying employees for idle time. Understaffing creates angry customers who may abandon the brand when they’re forced to wait on hold for too long.
The solution is a pay-for-use model based on agents who work and get paid only when there is customer demand. Traditional call centers have limited flexibility in staffing and scheduling hours. The virtual agent model allows for a great deal of flexibility, whether it’s for seasonal or time-of-day spikes in calls for customer service.
Flexibility, agent quality and cost will always be the three most essential ingredients for any successful call center.