In an industry marked by rapid innovation and volatile customers, telecoms are now mainly differentiating through customer experience. CX becomes the main criterion of choice, as product and prices are often similar between competitors.
One of the significant changes observed in this area is the growth of digital customer interactions. Whereby the processing of large volumes of messages across various channels requires to adopt a new contact center organization oriented toward productivity. Utilizing the right processes and tools, telecoms can improve their productivity to manage more interactions with the same resources while keeping a consistent service quality.
The benefits of productivity improvement
The shift to digital interactions can be observed in all industries and is even more so for telecoms. 92% of customers think that stores are not a must-have for mobile operators, highlighting the expectations for digital experience in this sector and the relevancy of digital-only players.
Unlike synchronous phone calls, digital channels operate both synchronously and asynchronously. Meaning that transitioning from phone calls to digital interactions requires profound changes in the contact center organization.
Rather than replying only in real-time, agents can manage more than one interaction at a time. Contributing to improving productivity and smoothing the activity across the day.
One of the most apparent benefits of productivity gains is the reduction of costs. However, the impact is going beyond that and brings the following advantages:
- Increasing Customer Satisfaction: thanks to productivity gains, telecoms reduce their response time. With increased customer volatility in the industry, getting a quick answer is a decisive criterion. If a customer estimates that he doesn’t get an answer fast enough, he can easily turn to a competitor. By being closer to these expectations for quick answers, companies can increase customer satisfaction.
- Turning customer service into a profit center: the improvement of agents’ productivity means that they free up time for more added-value tasks, such as cross-selling or upselling. For example, they could offer the customer to subscribe to a new service or upgrade his existing subscription that fits his usage. When done in the interest of the customer, it is a win-win situation: he can optimize the price of each service, while the company is improving loyalty.
- Facilitate the adoption of new channels: adopting an approach prioritizing productivity enables companies to integrate new channels seamlessly. Adding new touchpoints usually increases the volume of interactions. When silos between each channel disappear, it is easier for companies to manage this additional volume. They also become more flexible to adopt new channels: there is no need to implement a new tool and train agents.
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Facing challenges of resources management
Within the contact center, agent recruitment and retention are challenging areas. Studies show that contact centers tend to see turnover rates from 30 to 45%.
This problem can be explained by various reasons including, stress, monotonous tasks, and inappropriate work environment. On this latter issue, 75% of agents reported being unhappy at work when the tools they use to communicate hinder productivity.
When serving millions of customers, telecoms need to rely on large teams of agents. Turnover can then represent thousands of employees leaving every year, associated with significant costs (hiring, training, productivity loss).
Adopting a scalable approach helps telecoms face the challenge of resources management. By developing contact center staffing models, companies can standardize the following:
- Onboarding: as part of the onboarding, giving access to the necessary tools with the permissions takes time. Reducing the number of tools used and creating standard models makes this process easier.
- Training: an essential area for new employees. There are many aspects to learn for agents: the tools to use, the tone to use, the product or service sold by the company. By relying on intuitive tools, companies can reduce training time.
- Agents messages: thanks to a knowledge base or templates for messages, agents can access standard answers, allowing the company to unify their answers.
Scalability allows telecoms to reduce costs, ease agents’ onboarding, and ultimately make customer service efficient. The contact center can then evolve and adapt to the changing expectations of customers, essential to improving agents’ productivity…
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How to improve productivity?
One of the first steps to improve productivity is to unify the management of all digital channels within a single interface. This helps improve customer service teamwork and allows you to move away from a siloed team organization based on channels.
Having each agent able to answer on all channels means that telecoms can adopt an organization based on skills: billing, sales, technical assistance.
A unified customer engagement platform integrates features that enable productivity gains:
- Smart routing: a routing feature, similar to ACD (Automatic Call Distribution), automatically assigns messages to agents with the right competency based on urgency and skill. For a telecom, this means that a message from a customer about to churn will be prioritized, or that a message about a technical issue will be sent to the right team. This approach contributes to the improvement of response time and productivity.
- AI to assist agents: 88% of CX professionals believe AI will enhance, not replace, agents. It can be used to provide employees with a knowledge base and auto-prompt contextual answers. That way, agents can access common answers, saving time, and facilitating faster answers. Chatbots can also be leveraged to interact with customers. For example, it will be able to answer basic requests or collect information before escalating the conversation to an agent.
- Identity merge: when customers contact a brand through multiple channels for the same issue, this creates duplicate conversations for customer service. These can be identified by merging customer identities. In that way, the company answers only once on the customer’s preferred channel. For example, it is common for customers to contact their telecom operator via email for a technical issue. If he doesn’t get an answer, he may follow up on a public channel such as Twitter. With a unified customer identity across all channels, it is easier for a brand to detect duplicate conversations and provide the same experience across all channels.
- Analytics: the centralization of channels makes it possible to get the same KPIs for all of them. Rather than relying on multiple dashboards, customer service departments get data to obtain a global view of their digital activity. This comprehensive view allows telecoms to monitor and pilot their activity in real-time. If peaks occur, they can optimize their resources in real-time to make sure to provide a qualitative service. For example, if peaks occur on a particular channel after a product launch, telecoms can choose to assign more resources to this specific channel, to handle the volume, and keep their response time promise.
Finally, telecoms need to connect all their customer service apps such as CRM, Customer Engagement Platform, Business Intelligence (BI), Workforce Management (WFM)… The circulation of data enables the optimization of processes between tools and contribute to productivity improvement. By relying on an open platform, telecoms also make sure they are ready for the future: whatever new tool or channel is needed to innovate, they can easily integrate it.
Originally published Jan 10, 2020, updated Jan 28, 2022