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. Frustrating, right?
The solution? Managing a successful inbound contact center starts with reducing volume. Two strategies can spare your customers long wait times — either hire more agents or head off calls in the first place with other 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.
How can you reduce calls in your organization’s inbound contact center? Here are seven 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 reduce calls, manage a high volume of inbound contact center calls, and reduce call abandonment rates 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, that message should include a link or button for connecting to live chat. If a customer is visiting the website, the company’s chatbot might initiate contact with a pop-up.
If a customer is waiting on hold, you can reduce calls by giving your customer options to connect in other ways, such as a message directing the caller to an FAQ page or resources page on your organization’s website. 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 non-phone 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 in other channels and your omnichannel experience succeeds. Win-win!
One key to a thriving omnichannel strategy is ensuring every communication 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 reduce your call rate.
3. Offer self-service options
Customers are increasingly drawn to self-service options, so why not make this a part of your strategy for reducing 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 for them. Self-service options are an ideal way to reduce your call rate.
The following self-service options might be helpful to reduce calls in your inbound contact center:
- Detailed and easy-to-navigate FAQs allow customers to find an answer to their problem without being directed by a service agent. To build a resource that can reduce calls, 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, searchable, 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.
- 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, which will reduce calls with customer service agents. These tutorials can take the form of YouTube videos, online documents, or slideshows.
And the best part of offering self-service options? Customers will become more comfortable addressing small support issues themselves, making them less likely to add to your contact center call volume in the future.
4. 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 an 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 e-mail, reduce calls by allowing agents to handle more than one customer at any given time.
According to Zendesk, a newer agent can handle one to two chats simultaneously and an experienced agent can handle up to four. This is a great strategy to reduce call rates since leaning toward asynchronous channels allows your agents to handle more customers in less time.
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5. Optimize your IVR
Your organization’s interactive voice recognition system (IVR) can help reduce calls as well — directing callers to the right department or agents is only the beginning. It’s an excellent resource for managing high call volume.
The IVR system can also provide successful “exit points” for the customer, so they can resolve their concern without needing to speak with an agent at all.
If customers can complete simple clerical tasks themselves via touch tone options, make these a highly accessible part of your IVR call flow. This can reduce inbound call volume to your agents and allow 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 your call abandonment rate too.
6. 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 a great strategy to reduce calls.
When information is visible and freely shared, data silos, gaps, and overlaps are eliminated — and that means easier access to information. If team members work together to get customers the right answer on the first contact, that will streamline communication and reduce call rates.
7. Focus on FCR
A strong First Call Resolution (FCR) rate in your inbound contact center means the customer has no need to call back (at least, not regarding the same issue). This is a great way to reduce your call rate because you’ll cumulatively lower inbound contact center calls in the future. As strong FCR reduces inbound call volume, there will be a positive ripple effect on customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
Reducing customer service calls can have many benefits for your inbound contact center. By addressing these seven areas, you can cut costs and improve your customer experience. Establishing asynchronous channels, providing agents with the proper omnichannel training, and allowing them to handle more complex calls can help agents continue to develop a more qualified skillset.
Don’t keep your customers waiting in a queue. Learn how you can train and coach your agents to keep call volume down and quality up by requesting a free Playvox demo.