Addressing multi-channel communications in the service call center – essential for operational efficiency and reputation management
Today’s service call centers need the flexibility to cope with a growing range of communications channels, prioritising requests and distributing information to ensure effective customer service. They must also correlate information across both internal and external channels. Failure to do so risks reputational damage and creating processing overload.
Customer service is a fundamental requirement. People buying goods and services often need help. With many transactions taking place online or in larger retail outlets without specialist knowledge and capabilities, customers often need to talk directly to vendors or their agents to resolve problems.
When help is required, the first thing customers do is to try to access one of the service options available to them. These might be a telephone number, an email address or a contact form on the web.
In most cases, these enquiries are directed to a call center for processing. In our classification, we identified several types of call center and this kind can generically be referred to as a “service call center”.
Today’s service call centers are a crucial element in the delivery of service and support capabilities to customers. But of course, nowadays there is a wider range of communications media and channels to manage – service call centers can be sent voice calls, faxes, emails, social media messages, web forms, chat from instant messenger services and so on. This diversity is likely to grow, as new forms of communications channels spread, such as WebRTC-enabled click-to-call sessions.
This means that the staff in the call center – both management and agents – must have a high degree of flexibility in order to meet differing requirements placed on them by the different media types. In turn, this means that the systems on which they depend must be capable of managing media across a range of different channels and be sufficiently flexible to cope with new ones as they emerge and gain user adoption.
In addition, centralised reporting is essential so that media can be distributed effectively, not only according to its type, but also according to the skill and service levels required. This task falls to a modern, multi-channel ACD.
With a modern, fully multi-channel ACD, tasks such as reporting and managing multiple forms of communications (for example, email and voice calls) can be managed more effectively. Call center management staff can control daily operations using a ‘cockpit’ to obtain real-time visibility of events – providing essential monitoring to enable intervention and escalation when required.
To achieve this, you need an ACD that really can manage the communications channels of today – and has the flexibility to deal with emerging channels as they become adopted. The ACD needs to be integrated with reporting tools that enable the efficient monitoring of activity so that overall service levels can be maintained.
This is particularly important when we consider that customers will not only make contact with the provider directly via the available channels, but also that they may broadcast their experience over their own social networks. For example, suppose a customer sends an email to the service contact center – but receives no response because the email channel is dependent on manual checks or is neglected.
The customer may then become frustrated and send three further emails within a relatively short space of time. This frustration can lead to anger and the customer posts disparaging messages to Facebook to report the issue. Unless the call center is actively tracking both inbound enquiries across all channels and external media and correlating them effectively, then this activity could be completely lost – until the negative remarks create a backlash across social channels.
A multi-channel ACD must be capable of not only tracking all such activity but also of correlating them into a single case, report or incident. The example suggested above could have resulted in multiple incidents that are regarded as separate, when really they are all concerned with the same thing. In this case, there would be five incidents. Taking into account call volumes, this could cause situations that overload the call center and lead to operational paralysis that, in turn, will lead to further reputational damage.
With many retailers lacking direct, face-to-face interaction with their customers, it’s essential to address customer service issues. Good customer service is the foundation of a business and businesses must ensure they meet the expected service levels, through guaranteed response times, easy escalation paths, and observation and correlation of activity across all internal and external channels. Failure to do so will result in:
- Unnecessary escalation of problems
- An increased likelihood that customers will choose another provider in the future
- Potential issues with reputation management that spread virally through the online world.
That’s why the multi-channel ACD is so important. If your infrastructure is not able to cope with the demands of a diverse and growing range of communications channels, or correlate information received effectively, it’s important to correct this.
Talk to jtel to find out how.