Customer Care Checklist

EPIC Connections has partnerships with 92 different call center companies globally and helps businesses find the call centers that can best SeNe their needs. President Bill Pieper shared a few pain points that exist in customer contact services. To be successful in delivering high-quality customer service, he says, all of these items need to be addressed.

Agent Characteristics

  • Does your contact center have the vertical industry application experience necessary to achieve top performance?
  • Are you limited by the language capabilities of your contact center?
  • Has the skill set and quality of the contact center agents deteriorated since you launched your program?
  • Is the contact center’s agent turnover too high?
  • Have your trained agents or account manager been reassigned to another client’s program at your outsourced contact center?

Location Characteristics

  • Is growth of your program limited by the size of your contact center?
  • Is your program/campaign restricted by your contact center’s lack of 24x7x365?
  • Is your contact center in the proper location (onshore, offshore or near shore?)
  • Are all of your agents in one location?
  • Has that contact center ever dosed for weather or other reasons?

Technology

  • Is your data architecture preventing contact center agents access to data that would make them more effective?
  • Is your old distributed technology architecture impeding operational improvements?
  • Does your contact center have a documented business continuity and disaster recovery plan?

Management

  • Is your contact center complacent?
  • Has it been benchmarked against industry standards or a competitor’s contact center?
  • Have you determined the impact of health care reform on your in-house and/or outsourced contact centers?
  • Can your contact center quickly handle additional new program/campaign requirements?
  • Do you feel like a small fish in a big pond at your outsourced contact center?

Operating Costs

  • Has your budget for contact center outsourcing changed?
  • Are you overpaying for contact center services because of contact center overstaffing?
  • Has your outsourced contact center’s rates increased since your program launch?

Results

  • Are program conversion rates at expected levels?
  • Are the contact center’s reports timely? Accurate? Costly to change?
  • Is your customer’s satisfaction at the expected level?
  • Does your contact center provide timely issue resolution?
  • Is your contact center measuring the right things?
  • Do your metrics help you make strategic decisions?

Don’t Poison the Well

Utilizing cost-effective tools can improve the customer experience while reducing the unit cost of handling a customer inquiry, according to Bill Pieper, president, EPIC Connections, a customer contact solutions company. Using voice-recognition biometrics to reset a customer’s password is one example. “This highly secure and proven technology expedites the password reset process while significantly reducing the unit cost of resetting a customer’s password,” Pieper notes.

Social Complaints/Social Praise

“The public nature of customer service can make a significant impact on your brand,” says EPIC’s Pieper. “If handled properly, social media can be a powerful marketing tool. Retailers, for example, use Twitter to provide advice, address service issues and build relationships,” he says.

“In one instance, after an unhappy customer tweeted his disappointment about an order that hadn’t arrived, the retailer immediately found the order number and provided a status update,” Pieper says. “The customer responded publicly, praising the retailer to thousands of followers. Social media presents the opportunity to delight your customers by giving them the help they ask for in real time—and be recognized for it publicly.”

Customer who complain via social media are your most vocal, Pieper adds. “By helping them, you’re helping to cultivate public endorsements. Dell recently reported that 40 percent of upset customers end up publicly promoting the company after being helped by their customer service outreach team. These endorsements are the most influential brand promotions you can receive.”

Although it may seem risky to engage in social media, Pieper believes the bigger risk is ignoring it. When you engage with customers via social media, it’s important to keep two things top of mind: the timeliness and the quality of the response, Pieper says.

“Your objective should be to neutralize negative sentiment and capitalize on positive sentiment. With today’s fast-paced, mobile customer who’s utilizing social media to share their emotions, companies must respond and take action quickly, lest the customer take unpredictable action regarding the negative or positive experience and/or the brand,” he explains. “With respect to quality, a canned response that doesn’t address the customer’s posting exacerbates the negative sentiment. Empathetic, problem-solving agents that take control of the situation undoubtedly will improve the sentiment and the customer experience.” The skills required for social media monitoring and action are much different than those of a phone agent in a contact center and, as such, contact centers should avoid using phone agents for social media, Pieper suggests.

Call Centers Are Here to Stay

EPIC’s Pieper says another way to optimize the call center is by using speech analytics, which relies on phonetic search technology to capture a true record of what is being said in an audio track and can be searched more quickly and accurately than with live quality assurance agents that monitor about 5 percent of calls. “Contact centers have significantly reduced quality assurance head count by using this technology, which provides management with better tools for agent coaching and training,” Pieper notes. “With labor and benefits costs rising, contact center management must continuously optimize their operations with technology, processes and tools that make their agents more productive, which also improves the customer experience.”

Read the full article published in PayBefore

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