By now, we are all only too aware that contact centers have had to adjust to a new paradigm. Thousands upon thousands of formerly premise-based agents have transitioned to become home-based agents, often in the face of dramatic spikes in call volume. While companies and front-line personnel are struggling to gain their footing in this unprecedented environment, they must not lose sight of one important truth. On the other end of each call is an individual who is likely to be in a crisis which requires more attention and consideration than it ever did before.
Even before the onset of the current situation, PwC research revealed that 59% of worldwide consumers surveyed believed companies had lost touch with the human element of customer experience, and 75% of respondents preferred to interact with a human as opposed to dealing with an automated system. Given the isolation and uncertainty of what is now referred to as the “new normal,” no one can blame consumers for being even more insistent on service with a human touch.
In a CX space based on people and relationships, taking care of customers has always been a top priority. But even as the sense of urgency has ramped up, sheer volume has resulted in extended wait times and higher customer frustration levels. This also affects agents adjusting to working at home while trying to keep up with the non-stop flow of calls. They may be dealing with consumers frantically trying to cut off automatic payments due to job losses, or people calling with critical inquiries about rapidly shifting business policies that cannot always be resolved online. Effectively handling customers in these fraught situations requires agents to make an added effort to do more intensive listening, apply faster thinking, keep their patience and take every necessary step to ensure that callers feel that a connection has been made.
In all cases, customers must be treated in a way that makes them feel valued. Much of this responsibility falls on the organizations involved, including updating websites and self-help portals more frequently and adjusting their scheduling to deliver higher service levels. However, given constantly changing conditions and rising demand, even that may not be enough. A March, 2020 Bloomberg Business report noted that hold times to reach a customer representative at Capital One were in excess of 20 minutes, based on calls placed by Bloomberg. That compared with an average of 41 seconds in 2018, according to a study from MyBankTracker. While the early gory stories of multi-hour wait times may have ameliorated somewhat as businesses have had time to adjust, it is safe to assume that they remain higher than in previous years. Undeniably, this is a phenomenon that doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon.
Customers who feel neglected or disrespected will remember their negative experience long after the pandemic has been resolved. The question for executives and managers of contact centers in every conceivable vertical is whether their operation is optimized to handle burgeoning demand. One perhaps obvious way to deal with increased volume is to implement a call-back feature.
On Thursday, June 25th at 2:00 PM ET, Fonolo, a pioneer of cloud-based call-back solutions, will present a complimentary webinar on CrmXchange entitled “How Your Contact Center Can Meet Customer Service Demands During COVID-19.” Shai Berger, Co-Founder and CEO of Fonolo and Chris McLean, Fonolo’s VP of Strategic Accounts, will explore the most significant challenges now being faced by contact centers and how to meet them. Topics will include:
- Tips and tricks for managing ongoing obstacles to providing service with a human touch
- The most actionable tactics for contact centers suffering from staff shortages
- How to manage ongoing high call volume
Berger is recognized as an innovator and thought leader whose mission is to educate the CX/contact center industry on how to improve the customer experience. McLean is a long-time contact center veteran who specialized in building lasting relationships. They will also conduct a demonstration of Fonolo’s call-back solution which reduces the frustration of long hold times, leads to more satisfied callers, and helps create a more profitable contact center.
Register now for this timely and informative presentation. If you cannot attend the live webcast, a recording will be posted 24 hours after it has taken place.