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Reducing contact center wait times is foundational to improving customer experience (CX). Customers are abandoning brands that fail to respect their time, and switching to companies that find ways to continuously reduce contact center wait times. Deploying the right solutions positions contact centers to gain new customers and build lasting loyalty.
It’s 6:00 in the evening, after customer service hours, when Joanna runs into a problem. She spends two hours trying to solve it herself while her frustration mounts. First thing in the morning she calls customer service only to hit peak call traffic. As she waits she posts about her experience on Facebook. Dozens of followers read her negative opinions.
Mark is waiting for an agent. He’s already spent two minutes answering repetitive automated questions and has run out of patience. As the minutes drag on, he googles a competitor and finds an offer that interests him.
Iga has a simple question. She has recently experienced a long wait time, and decides that this time trying to reach an agent isn’t worth it. She quietly changes brands.
How can contact center managers turn customer service from a pain point into an opportunity to create value? Here are three ways to reduce contact center wait times and provide the level of service that customers expect.
Joanna’s issue turned out to be a common one that could have been solved in seconds, but with customer service unavailable she had no way of knowing that. If the contact center had deployed a 24-hour, AI-powered chat option, she could have solved her problem on the spot. A well-designed chat answers simple questions like Joanna’s quickly, and also discerns when an issue may be more complex. In that case the AI directs customers to an agent, or schedules an automated call at a convenient time.
AI also smooths the process of reaching a human agent. The moment that a customer reaches a contact center, AI begins gathering data. Who is calling? What products or services does this customer use? What issues has this customer recently inquired about on this or other channels? Have those issues been resolved? Automation-based qualification identifies callers and their needs quickly, reducing wait time, transfers, and overall call time.
There’s a reason why Mark has been on hold so long, and it’s connected with the automated questions that he found so frustrating. The contact center Mark’s calling has out-of-date qualification and routing systems which failed to understand his needs. Mark is in a long queue waiting for a specialized agent, when his issue could be solved at any time by a more generalized agent.
Contextual routing leverages information gathered in the qualification stage to ensure each caller reaches the agent (human or automated) best able to meet their needs. It does this with a minimum of the repetitive questions which tested Mark’s patience. And it provides agents with access to customer data, leading to swifter and more personalized service at every step of the customer journey.
Iga’s long wait is due to a number of factors. The contact center is experiencing a high volume of calls due to a new product release. Although the peak was predictable, the call center manager had trouble finding enough agents to fill the need. To make matters worse, a small number of experienced agents have recently left the company. As unprepared agents work hard to fill those roles, they’re unable to handle the call volume they usually manage, and delays are cascading through the workforce.
By tightening their organizational skills, contact centers reduce the negative effects of such challenges and keep wait times low. One way to achieve this is through workforce management (WFM) solutions, which ensure the right person is available for the right task at the right time. WFM optimizes employee performance individually and as a team, enhancing scheduling agility, providing visibility into performance and creating intuitive platforms for trainings and skill management.
Skill management prevents situations like Iga’s by making sure that key skills are not limited to one or two employees. More broadly, it helps contact centers assess the tasks they need performed, and train employees in the skills needed to optimally perform those tasks. Contact center managers benefit from the enhanced skill of their workforce, and employees benefit from the chance to increase their skill sets and move up in the organization. Most importantly, customers benefit from faster, better-qualified support.
AI, contextual routing and enhanced organization do more than reduce the wait times that Joanna, Mark and Iga faced earlier. They are key to providing the level of personalized experience which customers expect. When a contact center unleashes the potential of its workforce the results are clear and quantifiable. Lower abandonment rates, higher customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores, and ultimately, greater customer loyalty.
Would you like to discuss how to reduce your waiting times using an Odigo Contact Center as a Service solution?