You have begun to transform your call center by identifying ideal self-service processes, mimicking live agent workflow, and exploring a strong omnichannel offering. But you still need to consider the preferences of the customers you serve, particularly when it comes to “who” they prefer to engage with and for what reason.
Some customers – even when presented with the most advanced AI-powered system – request live agents no matter what you do. These representative requests are sometimes ignored when companies value high containment rates, effectively creating silos between automation and live agent; in the voice channel, we refer to it as “IVR jail.” And just as building channels in silos can actually increase long-term costs for your business, so too can isolating your customers from live agents. Customers trapped in the automated system become frustrated and, ultimately, disloyal to the brand.
When customers ask for an agent, transfer them. Customer loyalty is too important not to. But you can transfer in a more effective way for your agents and contact center by capturing one more piece of data before transferring. Depending on the business, it is possible to enable agents with the type of inquiry, the customer’s information, or some other key data point that will help the agent move the conversation along without making the customer repeat him or herself. While a transfer may not help containment rates, a warm transfer does help reduce handle times, and can impact first contact resolution rates and customer effort scores too. Don’t forget – this can be done in any channel, not just voice!
Meanwhile, there are other customers who may never want to speak to an agent if they can avoid it, preferring the self-service options that are available. Forcing an agent onto these customers when they would much rather self-serve can have a negative effect on the customer experience, as well. Each customer perceives the relative ease of their options differently, so it is imperative to address every customer as an individual.
One way to do this is to put an intelligent bot on the front-end of every conversation while always having the option to pass to a live agent on the back-end of that same channel. In the voice channel, IVR and Computer-Telephony Integration (CTI) model this approach, but oftentimes it is not duplicated in the other channels like SMS text or web chat. As we know, customers have channel preferences, so why not let them choose?
This way, customers can use their preferred contact channel and receive the same high-quality experience as they would in any other channel. If and when a conversation reaches the bot’s limits, either through customer request or business rules, pass the customer to a live agent for further service. As mentioned in the previous entry, data gathered about the customer’s journey through the system should be passed on to the live agent so that the conversation is seamless and the customer does not have to repeat themselves. This should generate ROI through cost savings and efficiency.
At this point, you should be to meet and exceed customer expectations when it comes to self-service. But what about the other stakeholders? The next and final entry will explain how setting and communicating specific goals for your organization and live agents in addition to your customers will be the key to a successful self-service strategy.