Contact centers today face increasing pressure to do a lot with limited resources. At Gladly, we’ve been thinking about how to help contact center leaders negotiate this tricky balance, culminating in this three-part series of posts on maximizing efficiency in your contact centers.
If you missed part one, we tackled the idea of turning your agents into natural sellers, and shared a case study of how one of our own customers pivoted their contact center team into revenue generators.
Today, we’ll explore the inefficiencies unfortunately inherent in most contact centers, and how to overcome them to extract the most from the resources you already have.
With that preamble, let’s get on the efficiency train ourselves, and get right on into it.
Maximize efficiency with a people-centered approach
For over 20 years, contact centers have been run on a ticket-centric approach.
But with the multitude of channels we have today, and the multi-channel way that people communicate, using tickets to manage work hasn’t aged well. Instead it’s led to to inefficiencies that artificially inflate the work that needs to be done, creating extra work for agents to do.
That’s why we propose a people-centered approach as the way forward, helping agents work smarter instead of harder.
Consolidate your customers’ conversations
Consider making your customer the focal point of your work—not tickets.
With a customer-based platform, every communication from a customer is threaded into a single timeline. That means regardless of whether a customer reaches out once, or 5 times, or switches channels in between, all those conversations stay in one place and assigned to the same agent, rather than separated into 5 different tickets, assigned to 5 different agents.
With Gladly, customer conversations, regardless of the channel it takes place over, is consolidated into a single thread, instead of multiple tickets.
As a result, you avoid two of the common inefficiencies prevalent in contact centers today:
Repeat and recap. Because agents can see a customer’s full conversation history, they don’t have to ask a customer to repeat the previous conversations they had with another agent, or on another channel. That means they can get to helping customers faster, and your customers have a better experience too.
Agent collision. And since a customer stays assigned to the same agent throughout—instead of different tickets assigned to different agents—contact centers avoid the unfortunate situation of multiple agents responding to the same customer. Not only is that a poor and confusing customer experience, but it takes time away from agents they could have spent helping the next customer in line.
In fact, , JOANN was able to reduce their backlog by 95% in just one month—all from the efficiencies gained by moving from their ticket-based platform to customer-based Gladly.
Match customers to agents
A people-centered approach also considers the unique attributes of both your agent and customer, to ensure that the customer is always routed to the agent best-suited to help them.
Matching your agent’s skills to your customers’ needs means your customers get helped faster, and makes your agents more productive.
For example, if a customer needs to make a hotel reservation, or has a technical question that requires the expertise of your IT team, being able to route them straight to the agent with the right skillsets—regardless of the channel they reached out on—means agents are able to help customers faster, and to a high standard.
It also minimizes time that would normally be wasted having to transfer a customer to a colleague or other department.
Boost agent productivity
Your agents are core to your customer experience—they’re the ones delivering warm, personal service that customers remember and come back for. Maximize their efficiency by automating the rote, repetitive work in their day, and arming them with tools that help augment their abilities.
Arm agents with time-saving tools
While every customer is unique, there’s still a lot of repetition that happens in an agent’s day.
From the same kinds of questions being asked (about returns or shipping windows), to the greetings and sign-offs necessary in every response, there’s a lot of areas where a little automation can save agents precious seconds every time.
For simple requests—like needing to change their password—consider sending automated responses to customers instead of requiring an agent to respond each time.
And for the slightly more complex, arm your contact center agents with an intelligent knowledge base that can suggest the best answer for an agent to use to respond to a customer, saving them the time it would have taken for them to search for it themselves.
Arming your agents with an intelligent knowledge base that automatically suggests the best answer to your customers’ questions saves your agents time they can spend helping your next customer instead.
Being able to save time in other small ways, like prepopulated greetings and sign offs in emails and messaging channels, or automatic dispositioning based on the content of a conversation, can all add up to huge time savings your agents can use to help more customers in a day.
Save your agents some keystrokes by leveraging machine learning to help finish your agents’ sentences.
Lean into self-service and messaging
We know customers like to use the phone to reach out, but it’s a pretty resource-intensive channel for contact centers compared to messaging or self-service—while an agent can juggle an average of 2-3 customers over messaging at a time, they can really only handle one phone call at once.
Short of shutting your phones down entirely—which we don’t suggest—there are small (but powerful) things companies can do to encourage customers to use their messaging and self-service options.
Give messaging and self-service top billing
Most companies tend to list their phone support first on their Contact Us page. But by doing that, they subconsciously encourage customers to use that option first.
Instead, think about giving your self-service and messaging channels top billing on any page you list your support options, from your Contact page to marketing emails, and even where they appear on Google search results.
Promote them on every page
And while you’re at it, consider giving your customers quick access to your self-service and messaging channels on every page.
Gladly’s self-service feature, Sidekick, is like a mini Help Center on every page, letting customers find answers to common questions, or search for more.
By doing that you not only encourage customers to help themselves—something 73% of customers want to do anyways—but you also reduce the chances of customers moving on because they couldn’t find what they needed.
On average, 64% of customers who use our self-service feature, Sidekick, find the answers they need, and don’t go on to speak to a human agent after.