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Six free tactics to improve the customer experience

tips to improve customer experience

Shrinking budgets and growing customer demands make for a pretty tough balancing act for contact centre leaders. However, one lesson to be learned from award winning operations is that they do not wait for the perfect time or for budget to be signed off before trying to make things better for customers. Here are six things you can do right now, for free, that your customers will thank you for…

1. Map your customer journey

Do you know why your customers end up calling the call centre? If the customer experience is ever going to improve, it’s vital to understand what is driving customers to need support in the first place. The best way to do this is to build a picture of the customer journey, literally from all the ways they could first come into contact with the business, to buying the product, to what can go wrong, to contacting customer service. Devising a full customer journey map can be time-consuming, so try breaking it down into steps and giving each one to a different team. Or why not get the rest of the business involved and ask other departments such as marketing and back office support for their input? If nothing else, it will encourage those other areas to think about the customer experience and their impact on it.


2. Employ feedback loops

If you’re not going to do anything with customer feedback, don’t ask for it. But if you are, be prepared to analyse it and draw out any actionable insights. This doesn't have to be a great big project with a budget to match, you can start small, perhaps with a feedback box on your website (ask IT to set up a pop-up for you) or by searching for mentions of your company name on Twitter. The golden rule, though, is to close the loop. You will blow your customers’ minds if you contact them and let them know how their feedback has been used (or why it hasn’t). This is a far more powerful (and cost-effective) way to sustain the feedback programmes than offering rewards or incentives. And don't forget your agents. They are in a unique position to offer business insight because they know your customers and they know your company. Perhaps you could set up a notice board where employees can pin ideas that are reviewed by management every day or every week. Again, make sure you communicate what has happened to the feedback because they will quickly lose interest if their ideas disappear into a black hole.


3. Start believing in your agents

You’ve invested considerable sums in recruiting and training the right calibre of employee to look after your customers, so why not give them the time and the tools to do the job? AHT is an important measure in order to plan effectively, but do you really want your agents to be focusing on the speed of the call rather than the quality? Removing AHT as an agent target may cause it to spike initially, but this usually levels out and it can actually go down as a result. Your agents and your customers will be grateful to be able to resolve the query on the first call, no matter how long it takes. What’s more, give your agents ownership of each call they take and let them see it through to resolution. Let them decide what the best course of action might be for both the customer and the company. You just might be surprised at how sensible they can be and just how much loyalty and belief you will gain as a result.


4. Give your customers a voice

Quite literally. If you have the ear of the CEO, or at least the customer service director, try playing them audio of an actual call to illustrate the point you are trying to make. Hearing an actual customer will be much more emotive and powerful than any board report. And if you can do it regularly, you’ll find that customer experience becomes a priority very quickly. Another powerful tactic is to ask board members to call the customer service line for themselves. Even the finance director will suddenly be supportive of fixing broken processes if they have experienced customer frustration first hand.


5. Shoot customer service videos

Let’s face it: most of your customers would do anything rather than contact the call centre. Luckily, the rise of social media means there are more opportunities than ever for customers to self-serve. Try setting up a user group on Facebook where your customers can share solutions to common problems or queries. Or have some fun with your agents shooting self-help videos that can be posted on YouTube and the company website. A good example of this is Dyson’s YouTube channel, which hosts lots of how-to videos: If you need inspiration, ask your agents for their top ten most common customer queries and start there. If you’re successful, this can actually drive down call demand and free up time for agents to solve more complex customer queries.


6. Power up your current systems

If you are frustrated by IT issues (and who isn’t?), can you be sure you are using systems correctly? Or that the solution doesn’t already exist? Try to coax your IT professionals out from behind their computers to spend the day on the calling floor, and give your agents free rein to vent their frustrations. Any IT geek worth their salt will be motivated by new problems to solve and your agents will love you for giving their gripes a fighting chance of being solved. It’s also worth getting in touch with your technology providers and working with them to solve issues. Many tech companies offer free software upgrades, and you might be missing out on new functionality if you don’t investigate. For example, perhaps your workforce management software can now automate agent holiday bookings, freeing up time for team leaders to spend coaching.


The crucial thing here is not to delay because you have to wait for sign-off, or buy-in, or budget. Just start doing something, anything, that you feel in your gut will help the customer. Start small and build up from there. Once you can demonstrate the impact small changes have on customer service (and so loyalty), you’ll be amazed at how quickly the buy-in and budget will follow. 

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