Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software has developed significantly in recent years, as has the call centre industry, and the channels available to us for communication with the customer. One of the key benefits of working with a CRM platform in a busy customer service environment, is that it means staff are able to respond to enquiries in a consistent and efficient manner.
Some may think efficiency in this environment is about being less personal or Ďhumaní with customers, but our experience, and that of our clients, is that it actually means there is significantly more time to be personal, when really needed.
Depending on the function of a customer contact centre, agents may need to be equipped to manage complex or unpredictable enquiries from those in need of advice and support.
Many contact centres, particularly those operating in a highly regulated industry will typically follow a pre-written, rigid script. Those in less-regulated markets may have the flexibility to use a call structure as opposed to a script. Having a call structure ensures calls are handled in a standardised way, yet agents are also able to personalise the conversation ensuring each issue is managed in the most appropriate manner.
For call centres using multi-channel services, training agents to show warmth and empathy to service users – whether it is over the phone or via a text message service Ė is vital.
Being able to offer a more personal response is crucial in emotional support scenarios where staff are required to understand the crux of a service userís issue. Empathy is important as is the skill and understanding to get past the emotion to the real root cause behind the contact. The same skills are also important in a more regulated or commercially focused customer service environment, as they can help turn a bad customer experience into a positive one.
It is essential that frontline staff have the ability to build up trust with customers, making each conversation sound personal to them whilst retaining a standardised level of service.
Whilst it is important for an agent, where possible, to manage the whole journey with a service user, some people may contact a call centre several times. To keep communications consistent, a holistic approach is vital.
During training, agents should be taught how to efficiently use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, recording all user interactions. By doing this, future enquiries can be handled more efficiently, as previous conversations do not have to be repeated. This allows the process for both agent and service user to be more efficient, freeing up resource to help others in most need.
Offering a multi-channel service, where users have the choice of how they get in touch is equally important. A CRM platform that enables SMS web chat, telephone, email and social media based interaction ensures customers have choice. Some service users may only be able to contact a centre through web access during work hours for example, as open plan offices can mean telephone calls donít allow privacy. Being able to offer customers as many options as possible is key to a positive 21st century customer experience, as long as those channels are also monitored as necessary and response times remain consistent.
From an agent point of view it is vital that they have access to consistent knowledge content to support interaction across all channels. Agents will often deal with a wide range of enquiry subjects and in some cases these can be extremely complex. It is challenging for agents to be experts in all topics so it is imperative that they have access to a library of high quality content that is also consistent with website content and any other publicly available information.
Making sure that the service remains the same across all communication platforms is extremely important to maintaining a brandís reputation. Failure to do so can lead to service users being dissatisfied or even confused about the service offered which can result in a damaged reputation within the sector if negative word of mouth spreads.
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