Let’s face it: waiting on hold for customer service doesn’t lead to a good experience. We’ve all been down that road too many times—waiting on our phones, multitasking in the background. The cheesy on-hold music. The automated messages on repeat breaking into the cheesy music. Obsessively checking your phone display to see just how long you’ve been waiting. Frustrating, right?
The solution to long wait times? Either hire more agents or reduce inbound calls in the first place with other support channels and methods. Hiring additional customer service agents can significantly increase costs, but stopping calls before they start is both cost-saving and more feasible than you think.
Here are five call reduction strategies your contact center can implement to improve the customer experience (CX).
Not Your Grandmother’s Call Center
Inbound contact centers have evolved greatly since the days of managing lengthy call queues and managers frantically running around to offer back-up support to agents sporting multiple headsets. Omnichannel support including text and chat, and web-based self-service, has been a game changer. Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation is playing an outsized role in shaping customer support and CX.
Inbound calling still remains a popular channel for customer support, but merging it with other channels not only creates efficiencies for contact centers and their agents, but customers benefit by being able to choose their preferred communication channels.
Know Thy Customer Preferences
Contact center leaders understand that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work. Customers have varying needs and preferences, and the challenge is to deliver the right support to the right customers at the right time. Modern contact centers offer a mix of omnichannel support, with inbound phone support almost always remaining an option. The trick is to offer the “Goldilocks” of just-right support options for outstanding CX and customer interactions while achieving efficiencies in contact center operations and reducing labor costs.
Three steps will get you started down the path to call reduction.
- Understand the collective “why” – Why are customers contacting your organization? What are the most common types of customer inquiries and support needed?
- Map the customer journey – Once you understand the reasons why and frequency in which customers are reaching out for support, you can map the best journey for them to quickly and effectively resolve issues.
- Align your inbound support with customer preferences and your agents available to support to create an optimal experience. Do you have the right agents, with the right skills, scheduled during the right times your customers demand?
Automation to the Rescue
The next step in the path to reduce calls and deliver better CX is to leverage technology. Contact center solutions purpose-built for digital, omnichannel contact centers help ease the transition to provide more robust omnichannel support channels, which ultimately leads to inbound call reduction. Contact centers are able to more effectively manage the more complex, multi-step customer interactions and workflows required today. For example, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered solutions provide:
- Automated forecasting to map proper skills with demand
- Data sharing across the business for insight into channel effectiveness
- Automated scheduling to ensure the right support at the right times
Read on for strategies to shift your call volume to omnichannel support for greater efficiencies while at the same time providing better customer experience. Five Call Reduction Strategies
1. Make other channels accessible and convenient
One of the most effective ways to reduce calls, manage a high volume of inbound contact center calls, improve average handle time, first-call resolution rates, and reduce abandoned call rates in your organization is to ensure every interaction with a customer includes alternative support options as a complementary approach to inbound calls.
For example, if a customer receives a confirmation email, that message should include a link for connecting to live chat. If a customer is visiting the website, the company’s chatbot might initiate contact with a pop-up.
If customers are waiting on hold, you can reduce contact volume and hold times by giving them other support options, such as a message directing the caller to an FAQ or resource page on your website and call-back options. And emails can feature digital communication channels in the footer for easy access.
In short, every effort should be made to spread the customer volume over multiple channels. The more accessible the channels are, the more likely customers are to make a habit of connecting in ways other than the phone.
2. Proper omnichannel support and training
If you’re going to drive customers toward digital channels in an effort to reduce calls, then your contact center must be well-equipped, staffed, and trained to handle it. Think of it this way — if you want to steer customers away from calling, make it easy. Show them an exceptional customer experience through other channel options and your omnichannel experience succeeds. Win-win!
One key to a thriving omnichannel strategy is making sure every channel is well-integrated with one another for a seamless customer experience. Customers need to feel comfortable switching from one to the other without fear of gaps, overlaps, or repetition in the transfer of information.
That’s why your inbound contact center must ensure that adequately trained agents are staffing all channels and that replies (especially on asynchronous channels) are timely and effective. With this in place, it’s much easier to succeed at call reduction.
3. Lean toward asynchronous channels
Agents who are actively speaking with customers on the phone have, of course, a very limited ability to multi-task, which can ultimately lead to increased call volume. Some interactions do require focused attention, and that’s okay. But real-time, voice-to-voice interaction demands the agent’s full attention, and compared to some other channels, this is less than efficient.
Asynchronous channels, like chat, SMS, and email, reduce calls by allowing agents to handle more than one customer at any given time. For example, one agent may be able to handle 3-4 chats simultaneously, providing a great strategy to reduce call rates and improve contact center operations.
4. Establish a collaborative culture
Collaboration can make a big impact on your call rate. From productivity to profitability and everything in between, contact center agents working together is another way to reduce inbound call volumes.
When information is visible and freely shared, data silos, gaps, and overlaps are eliminated — and that means easier access to information across teams. If agents work together to get customers the right answer on the first contact, that will streamline communication, reduce call volume, and lead to a better CX.
5. Focus on FCR
A strong First-Contact Resolution (FCR) rate is an important contact center metric and means the customer has no need to call back (at least, not regarding the same issue). This is a great way to reduce your contact rate because you’ll cumulatively lower inbound contact center calls in the future. As strong FCR leads to call reduction, there will be a positive ripple effect on customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. Related Article: Top Call Center Efficiency Metrics And How To Improve Them
Benefits of Call Reduction in Contact Centers
Reducing inbound customer service calls provides many benefits for your contact center. Implementing these 7 call reduction strategies allows your contact center to:
- Cut contact center costs by leveraging technologies and maximizing agent effectiveness for the remaining calls they do need to handle
- Improve your bottom-line by shifting more call volume to your digital channels. This will give you the efficiency of having one agent handle many interactions, whereas a phone call must be a one-to-one relationship between agent and customer.
- Provide operational efficiencies by leveraging AI to create omnichannel forecasts
- Automate your scheduling across all channels
- Provide omnichannel training and growth opportunities for agents to develop a more expansive skillset and improve agent performance
Don’t keep your customers waiting in a queue. Want to learn more tips and tricks for call reduction by leveraging technology? Download our eBook: The Future of Customer Support: Emerging Trends and Technologies.