Let’s face it: waiting on hold for customer service during a time of high call volume doesn’t lead to a good customer experience. You can’t help but cringe through the cheesy music, sigh through automated messages that play at timed intervals, and check your call timer display obsessively to see just how long you’ve been waiting. Now that’s no one’s idea of a good time!
Managing a successful inbound contact starts with this action step: Reduce call volume. Two call reduction strategies can spare your customers from experiencing long wait times — hiring more agents or reducing inbound call volume. Hiring additional customer service agents can cause a significant cost increase. However, lowering the quantity of inbound calls is not only cost-saving, but also more feasible than you may think.
How can you reduce call volume in your inbound contact center? Here are six ways to keep inbound call volume in check, while improving the overall customer experience.
1. Make other channels accessible and convenient
One of the most effective ways to manage a high volume of inbound contact center calls in your organization is ensuring every interaction with a customer includes quick-connect options for further contact. It’s all about showing your customers their next right step!
For example, if a customer receives a confirmation email, it should include a link or tab for connecting to live chat. If a customer is visiting the website, the company’s chatbot should initiate contact with a pop-up. If a customer is waiting on hold, they should be given options to connect in other ways. Even an on-hold message when customers call can direct them to an FAQ page or Resources page on your organization’s website. 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 non-phone channels in effort to decrease call volume, then your contact center must be well-equipped, staffed, and trained to handle it. Think of it this way — If you want to train customers away from a call and into a different method, you need to make it worth their while. Show them an exceptional customer experience and your omnichannel experience succeeds. Win-win!
The key to a thriving omnichannel strategy is ensuring all channels are well-integrated with one another. 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.
3. Offer self-service options
Customers increasingly prefer self-service options anyway, so why not make this a part of your strategy for lowering your phone call volume? According to a recent Forrester report, two-thirds of customers say valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service.
The following self-service options may be helpful to reduce call volume in your inbound call center:
- Detailed and easily-navigable FAQs allow customers to find an answer to their problem without being directed by a service agent. Your organization’s online FAQ section should be more than just a handful of questions and answers thrown on a page; it should be a living document, constantly evolving and filled with links and tabs that are useful for organizing the information from the top down and from the bottom up.
- Web portals for making account changes should be available to customers both online and through a mobile app, so they can make simpler updates independently and free up your agents to tackle the more challenging interactions and reduce call volume.
- Online tutorials for solving relatively simple tech problems allow DIY-minded customers to forgo the phone queue and get the job done on their own timetable with minimal interaction (read: friction) with customer service agents. These tutorials can take the form of YouTube videos or online documents or slideshows. The Internet has become a smorgasbord of tutorial content, so get your contact center in on the action.
And the best part of offering self-service options? Customers will learn how to resolve some of their own service issues, making them less likely to become an addition to your call center volume in the future.
4. Lean toward asynchronous channels
Agents actively speaking with customers on the phone have a very limited ability to multi-task, which can ultimately lead to an increased call volume. Some interactions do call for 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.
Channels that are asynchronous, like chat, SMS, and e-mail, allow agents to handle more than one customer at any given time.
On average, agents can handle two customers at once via webchat, or a maximum of four without sacrificing service quality. This is a great strategy to reduce call volume because leaning toward asynchronous channels allows your agents to handle more customers in less time.
ENJOYING THIS ARTICLE?
Sign up for our newsletter
5. Optimize your IVR
Your organization’s IVR (interactive voice recognition) system can do much more for you than direct callers to the right department or agent, making it an excellent resource for managing high call volume.
The IVR system can also provide successful “exit points” for the customer that result in their not having to speak with an agent at all.
If there are simple clerical tasks that customers can complete themselves via touch tone options, make these a highly accessible part of your IVR call flow. This reduces inbound call volume arriving at your agents’ phones, and allows them to focus on more complex customer tasks and services. Bonus points: When your customers are inputting details, they’re spending less time on hold and that can reduce call abandonment rate too.
6. Focus on FCR
A strong FCR (First Call Resolution) rate in your inbound contact center means the customer has no need to call back (at least, not regarding the same issue), thus cumulatively lowering inbound contact center calls in the future. In fact, a 15% improvement in FCR results in a 57% reduction in repeat calls.
As strong FCR reduces inbound call volume, there’s a positive ripple effect on customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. 12% of customers who have to call more than twice to resolve their issue will leave a company or brand behind.
Reducing customer service calls has many benefits for your inbound contact center. By following the six outlined steps, you can cut costs, and improve your customer’s experience. By establishing asynchronous channels, providing agents with the proper omnichannel training, and allowing them to handle more complex calls, agents can continue developing a more qualified skillset.
Don’t keep your customers waiting in a queue. When you inbound call volume, you can keep your customers happy.