Call centers are a dynamic environment and the hub of a company's customer service department, with agents and managers working tirelessly to deliver on a brand promise day in and day out. Given the intensity of the job and the often nontraditional shifts agents and managers work, the call center needs to be a place where employees feel comfortable so they can be productive. For this reason, many call centers are paying closer attention to workplace design as a means of motivating employees and leading to greater productivity.
Aesthetic elements are important for motivation. Many studies have shown that humans are greatly affected by the aesthetic design of a space, determining their comfort level and whether or not they can be productive in that space. In a call center, it's therefore important to use some vibrant colors, which have been shown to positively boost people's moods. One good approach would be to use neutral desks with brightly colored chairs, for example, or to have brightly colored walls. Shapes are equally important in design, so using modern furniture, mirrors, or even pillows with interesting shapes can add to the vibrant feel of the call center. Don't underestimate the power of nature either: many studies have shown the importance of having plants and flowers in the workplace to counter stress, while motivational posters can keep your team focused and ready to do their best. Lastly, warm lighting is always a good way to brighten employee spirit and is known to have a calming effect.
Comfort is critical. Since agents typically need to sit for long stretches at a time, ergonomics are vital in the call center. While ergonomic chairs are certainly a great solution, any ergonomic accessories—such as a computer mouse, keyboard, headset, or even a pen—can bring comfort and better productivity to the call center. Another popular trend in the greater workforce is the standing desk. The Mayo Clinic reports that 50-70% people spend six or more hours a day sitting, and many studies are showing how much sitting can lead to serious health problems due to poor blood circulation. While it may not be a solution for everyone, giving call center employees the option to work from a standing desk is one to way increase their movement and ultimately their productivity. Holding standing meetings and encouraging walking breaks are also good solutions.
Give your employees space. As call centers are often noisy places, it's always good to give your employees a quiet space where they can relax on their breaks. Setting up a nice lounge is a great way to show appreciation for their well-being and encourage employees to socialize during their downtime. For training and meeting purposes, open spaces are also a good way to give a sense of collaboration to your company by not making employees feel that departments are too separated from one another. Encourage team collaboration and spirit by establishing collaborative workspaces as well. Lastly, as much as possible, make sure employees have access to natural light by keeping them near windows, as this is critical to one's mood and a way of making an indoor space feel bigger and more relaxing.
By showing your call center agents and managers that you care about their health and happiness in the workplace, they will be powerfully motivated to work well and feel loyal to the company. Workplace design plays a major role in your employees' comfort, which will lead to greater productivity, retention, and ultimately better customer service.
When customer service agents respond to customer concerns, do they understand how the customer feels at the end of the exchange with the representative? To deliver excellent customer service on any channel—whether it be by phone, chat, SMS, email, or social media--it’s not enough to handle concerns in a timely and professional manner. Customer satisfaction surveys allow companies to better understand what is working well, and what areas need improvement.
Such surveys can have a critical impact on the reputation of a company and its long-term success in numerous ways. For example, properly addressing customer concerns can result in fewer negative comments that customers might be tempted to post on social media channels or spread by word of mouth. The direct result is greater loyalty and a stronger chance for customer retention, as well as the possibility of attracting new business, as customer service improves. Companies may also learn what products or services customers are looking for and work to offer them to further grow their business. Lastly, it’s important to note that it costs more to attract new customers than to retain existing ones. Statistics show that it costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire new customers when one factors in the marketing costs involved in seeking potential clients, nurturing leads, and finally making sales.
Two ways to conduct these surveys are post-contact and periodic. With a post-contact survey, a customer may agree at the start or end of an exchange with a customer service agent—on any channel--to complete a satisfaction survey detailing the experience they just had. This kind of survey allows a company to monitor and improve a specific agent’s performance as well as follow the case history of a specific client to provide better individualized service. With a periodic survey, customers may be contacted on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis to provide overall feedback, and this may be beneficial for the company’s strategic planning and marketing campaigns.
Regardless of the type of survey given, there are a few points to follow in order to increase the likelihood of getting useful feedback. For one, it’s important not to make any survey too long—more than 10 questions is usually considered too time-consuming for a customer. Keep the questions specific enough so that the answers yield insightful information—for example, it’s better to ask how knowledgeable the agent was in resolving an issue than asking if the agent was merely professional. Such questions reveal information not only about the customer’s perception of the service offered but also how skilled the agents are in conveying information and whether they need additional training to provide the right service. Another point is to use a consistent scale on all questions. If one question asks to rate service on a scale of 0 to 10, every question should be answered on the same scale to prevent confusion, allow each question to carry the same level of importance, and allow the customer the same flexibility of response to each question. Lastly, it’s important to allow for qualitative feedback on a survey. On any channel other than the phone, it’s simple to ask the customer at the end of the survey to write any additional comments they may have. If the survey is conducted by phone, a voice recording is a good option.
To deliver the best customer service, it’s important to understand how your customers feel and give them a chance to tell you why. In this way, companies may better tailor services to their customers’ needs and offer an optimum customer engagement experience.
In the modern contact center, agents communicate with customers over many more channels as they did in the past. No longer is it necessary to handle customer service concerns only by phone as many contact centers today embrace the omnichannel experience to connect via SMS, chat, social media, email, and video as well. For this reason, it’s more important than ever to ensure smooth communication on both sides of a customer service exchange.
WebRTC is a communications standard that enables such real-time communications (RTC) to be offered directly on the web without the need for plug-ins, downloads, installations, or third-party software as the web browser is the application itself. The standard comes fully equipped with all that is necessary to engage in real-time, multimedia communications—whether it be via phone, video call, email, chat, SMS, or social media. Without additional plug-ins, contact centers can reach customers on all channels in a more efficient manner, and the customer likewise benefits from a better engagement experience. For example, if a customer is on a company website looking for the solution to a technology issue, a customer service agent may send a chat request as a means of helping out the customer. With no need for additional plug-ins and the fact that WebRTC is browser-neutral, the customer can rest assured that the chat process will go smoothly no matter which browser he or she is using while the agent can confidently proceed with the customer contact knowing that there won’t be any technical issues on either end.
WebRTC brings a wealth of advantages to contact centers including increased ease-of-use, rapid connectivity, and cost efficiency. As agents are able to connect quickly and efficiently with customers in real-time across multiple channels, they may resolve problems faster and with greater confidence while customers are also able to connect faster than ever. If contact centers do not already utilize the omnichannel strategy, WebRTC makes it possible to do so without sacrificing the quality of agent-customer interactions. The rapid connectivity further allows for customers to build greater trust in the companies they give business to as their problems are solved more efficiently, increasing customer satisfaction and improving customer retention rates. Lastly, WebRTC’s highly scalable model and function from a single platform helps businesses reduce costs by reducing contact time between agents and customers while eliminating the costs of fragmented or siloed technologies normally required to run a contact center. With WebRTC, contact centers and customers alike are set for a seamless experience across all channels as companies become more competitive by offering a high-quality customer service experience. Learn more at www.vocalcom.com.
Consumers nowadays are showing an increasing predilection for researching products and making purchases on mobile devices rather than desktops. A recent Forrester report revealed that mobile commerce surpassed desktops in retail traffic last year, while Prosper Mobile Insights indicates that 81% of smartphone users have done product research from their phones with 50% eventually making a purchase through the same device. The preference for mobile commerce therefore presents demand and opportunity for mobile marketing strategies to attract new customers and foster brand loyalty.
One important strategy involves mobile optimization of emails and websites. According to a Litmus research report, 51% of consumers check their e-mail on a smartphone or tablet, yet 80% reported deleting the email if it was hard to read or did or format properly. What message can be taken away from this? When sending emails to customers, it’s critical that the format be optimized for mobile so the message--or reward--is never lost. Use a clean, uncluttered layout, large font, and small, concisely written blocks of text instead of long paragraphs—this will dramatically improve the appearance of your email and make it easier to read. While images can enhance appearance, large image files may take too long to load. It’s wisest to keep images to a minimum and also ensure that customers can respond or navigate to a new (also mobile-optimized) page with buttons. Remember that space is limited on a mobile interface and customers are always looking to save time—so keep it simple and straightforward.
Website optimization is just as critical. While the appearance of a mobile version website does not have to match the web version exactly, the content should be rich and not lacking in critical resources. Once again, buttons allowing the customer to make a purchase, contact the business, or link to social media should be easy to find and functional. Links are hard to click on, so they should be avoided whenever possible. Research has shown that shoppers are more likely to purchase from a brand that offers an engaging mobile experience, and keep in mind that customers often compare web and mobile versions when it comes to fostering brand loyalty.
Lastly, never underestimate the power of social media. As many consumers enjoy accessing their various social media accounts from their mobile devices, businesses are poised to reach a greater audience by marketing directly to their customers through these sites and making it easy for them to leave reviews. Businesses may offer especially targeted deals to customers based on their purchase history, for example. Consumers also like to look up reviews before making purchases, with First Data reporting that 81% of smartphone users checking social media for reviews before buying. It’s therefore critical to integrate a mobile program with customer reviews and offer social media sharing buttons on mobile to facilitate mobile marketing.
When done right, mobile marketing strategies provide excellent ways for businesses to attract customers and build loyalty. Therefore, companies need to strategize how and when to engage with their customers to ensure optimum success. Learn more at www.vocalcom.com.
Social customer service is a rapidly growing trend and sign of the times. Customers nowadays are eager to get quick answers on their favorite social media sites, sometimes on the go. While networking sites such as Facebook, Linkedin, Google Plus, Pinterest, and Instagram provide excellent platforms for marketing and customer service, perhaps the most conversation-centric site demanding extra attention in the domain of customer service is Twitter.
Unlike the other sites, Twitter focuses on real-time conversation and in many ways mirrors traditional chat while giving companies the opportunity to market their products and services with its fast moving, highly public exchanges between people. For this reason, companies can make the most of this platform by using specific strategies that will deliver the best customer service possible.
Keep posts personal and personable. Whenever engaging in a Twitter exchange, agents should always introduce themselves and any other agents who may become involved in the case. It’s important to avoid automated messages as Twitter gives companies the chance to engage in conversation just as an agent might do over the phone; it’s an opportunity to make customers feel you care about their needs. Make the customer service interaction personal by addressing the customer by name as well, and of course keep the tone friendly as you would on any other channel.
Be timely. Unlike other social media sites, Twitter moves fast. If a customer addresses an agent, it’s critical to respond quickly and keep the conversation fluid. If other agents need to be involved to address a concern, make sure to keep them informed of the conversation so as to avoid making the customer repeat information. If a customer case begins to take much time or cannot be addressed appropriately with the 140-character limitation on Twitter, move the conversation offline to a channel of the customer’s choice.
Consider multiple Twitter accounts.Some companies have found it very useful to run multiple Twitter accounts for different departments or even different regions if they have a global presence. This allows greater focus on individual cases and ensures that customers are directed to the right place without wasting time. One simple strategy is to have a customer service Twitter account where customers can easily find the support they need.
Don’t forget that conversations are public. While private messages may be sent on Twitter, most exchanges occur publicly and therefore increase visibility of a brand. This could be positive or negative depending on how one looks at it. If a customer does not get a timely response and begins to complain, this could of course hurt a company’s reputation. However, with attentive customer service that’s well-timed, professional, and cheerful, companies may reap great benefits and gain strong customer loyalty. When a customer is satisfied, marking a tweet as “favorite” or retweeting the customer’s positive comments are excellent ways to promote a positive image of a brand.
Like all social media sites, Twitter bears great potential for optimizing customer service, attracting new customers, and gaining brand loyalty. However, its conversational nature and specific social features offer unique ways for companies to reach out to customers which, when done properly, can greatly enhance the customer engagement experience. Learn more about social customer service software solutions at www.vocalcom.com.