For the 234th time… why contact center silos mean frustrated customers
Frustrating contact center experiences like explaining your issue over and over again, or being handed from agent to agent are usually caused by data silos. Find out how a few simple changes to your set-up can deliver better experiences to customers and agents.
First, there was the call center. Then came the contact center — an acknowledgment that companies were increasingly dealing with customers through new channels like email and social media. And for some companies, the ‘experience center’ soon followed — a one-stop-shop designed to go beyond simply responding to issues, but work proactively instead to deliver on the customer experience.
But here’s the thing, experience centers remain few and far between. In many cases, rebranding contact centers as such is little more than a change of name.
Why? Because of historic silos, where there was the phone team in one part of the office on its legacy system and the digital team in another, on an entirely different system.
Then there are all the other parts of the organization that customers experience, from the frontline staff to the eCommerce teams. Again, each one on its own system, walled off from the rest of the organization.
Put yourself in the customer's shoes
Think about that from a customer’s perspective for a second and it’s easy to see the impact:
Someone gets in touch through Live Chat on your app to complain their product is faulty.
They can’t solve the issue immediately, so they call the support number.
They explain the issue again.
But the part of their product that’s not working is supported by a different team. So they call them.
They explain the issue again…
To the customer, there’s no distinction between the channels, nor the internal structure of the company they’re dealing with.
There’s just repeated explanations of the same thing, and the feeling they’re being handed from agent to agent without coming closer to a resolution.
In our most recent study into the impact of contact centers on the customer experience, that very experience of being handed off from one agent to the next was cited as the ‘least liked’ experience when dealing with contact centers.
90% of customers expect their details to be shared from one channel to the next, and when they have to re-introduce themselves and re-explain their issue, 85% of people blame the company and the agent.
Start by connecting the dots between channels
Customer journeys are a complex thing. In the omnichannel world most of us work in today, we choose our own paths to complete a task.
One person may start on social media, switch to live chat and then make a phone call; the next person might head straight for the phone; another will start in-store and then escalate their issue via your website.
In fact, they’re so complex that 64% of contact center managers say they have difficulty understanding customer journeys.
The first step in transforming your contact center is to break down the silos that exist between different teams, channels or parts of the organization.
We’ve seen already how siloes lead to frustrating experiences for customers, and it’s a pretty simple fix in the grand scheme of things. If every team and channel is able to share customer contact information between one another, it doesn’t matter what channel your customers contact you through, your agents always have the right information to hand.
Invest in ‘multiskilling’ contact center agents
Breaking down silos and moving towards a more customer-centric view of customer care means enabling your people to deliver on the experience, regardless of the channel.
In recent years, there’s been a growing trend towards ‘deskilling.’ Yes, really!
The logic is that training a new agent on multiple platforms takes time, and for every hour spent in training, that’s an hour lost dealing with customers.
It’s a short sighted view however. We know customers hate being passed from agent to agent, and we know that agents are much more engaged when they’re able to work across multiple platforms.
So contact centers need to reverse the trend, and focus on multiskilling to enable agents to deliver on the experience, whatever route a customer takes to get in contact.
It’s a move that will improve the customer experience and help to prevent agent churn. So everybody wins.
Give your agents more autonomy to improve engagement
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an area many contact centers have invested in, mostly in the name of driving efficiencies.
There’s the handy prompts agents receive to tell them when a customer is getting angry or to advise on the next steps, and then there’s the cookie-cutter call scripts which agents are required to read out when customers get in touch.
Cost efficiency is not always the best thing for the experience, and in the long term can end up costing you more as customers leave in search of better experiences.
Customers want personalization, and 66% say they want to be able to choose their own solution to a problem, as opposed to a rigid ‘fix’ offered by agents (usually following the recommendations of their AI assistant).
Agents don’t want it either. In all forms of employment, autonomy is a major driver of employee engagement. Removing that and replacing it with AI risks increasing churn, adding yet more to the costs of running a contact center as your recruiting costs escalate.
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