As I mentioned in my previous post, self-service tools can help companies cut costs. Dealing with customers using a bot or IVR is vastly cheaper than employing a human agent. Gartner reported the following.
Phone, email, and other live channels cost an average of $8.01 per contact, while self-service channels cost only $0.10 per contact
When times are good, businesses spare no expense in providing a wonderful customer experience. When times are hard, however, cost-cutting measures take precedence, and as a result, the quality of customer service suffers.
Automation is not necessarily bad though. Bots do great things and a well-designed IVR can help me quickly find answers to simple questions. I don’t need to talk to an agent to find out when the store closes or how to reach the nearest branch. But when I need to talk to an agent, IVR can put me through hell. Pause for a moment and think of the last time you found the path to a human agent so difficult that you couldn’t help but yell at the poor person. And agents were probably busy spending their days apologizing at the start of every similar interaction.
But this need not happen. By focusing on the big picture of customer engagement, you can save a lot of money and provide better experiences than ever before. And here are six quick tips on how you can achieve that goal:
1 – Automate what you can
Don’t be afraid to automate what makes sense. Bots can easily handle simple and repetitive requests – that’s what God put them on this Earth for.
2 – Get Personal
Identify your customers using the number they’re calling from, their email address, or a Facebook account. Then, check to see if you can make an educated guess why they are reaching out to you. Do they have a flight tomorrow? That might be the reason they are calling. Or do they have a shopping cart with $2,500 in it and are stalled on the payment page. Ask if you can help with billing? Knowing these details saves your agents time, pleases the customer, and increases your revenue.
3 – Get Connected
To make the above scenario a reality, you’ll need to connect backend systems with your contact center. Even a simple screen pop of customer information can save agents time when dealing with inquiries.
4 – Go Digital
Digital interactions allow you to meet customers on their channel of choice, whether it’s Facebook, WhatsApp, or something else. This approach also saves you money by enabling agents to serve multiple customers at the same time. But don’t overdo this and kill positive experiences with long wait times for every question. Most agents can handle up to two interactions at a time. Still, two is better than one.
5 – Be Proactive
Send an SMS or make a quick automated call to let your customers know that their order is shipped. In this instance, total automation totally works and you can prevent a lot of calls by customers eager to check order status.
6 – You Make the Call
If you know that a customer will have to go through a long call-wait time, offer a queued callback. You’ll keep their place in line and call them when an agent is available. And if the customer needs help on the web, offer chat or a web callback. This is much better than making someone to call a generic 800# and cheaper than making your agent get all the details on the call when the information is known to you.
I have seen many companies enjoy significant ROI from these tips. Instead of sending your customers to IVR hell, give them a better experience than ever before while saving money and automating support in a smart and sustainable way. Learn more about how you can make remote support easy here.
Originally published May 21, 2020, updated Dec 30, 2022