Armed with this information, you can use tools such as a pareto chart to help you sort the inquiries in order of frequency and effort to resolve, from highest to lowest. Maximise the return on your “fix it” investment by commencing at the top of the list and work your way down.
#2 – How do you communicate with your customers?
A significant percentage of traffic into a contact centre is driven by the organisation itself through poor communication with its customers. Not only is this frustrating and at times concerning for customers, there is an increase in your operating costs.
To draw an example from my diagnostic archives. One of my clients had made a decision to discontinue one of the services they offered their customers. The client had developed a suitable and comparable replacement for the discontinued service and customers were able to manage the migration themselves through the website, however they were time bound with a cut off date. Straightforward and so far so good.
The critical and costly mistake was the lack of a clear communication strategy. The client didn’t explain the reason for the change and instead focused solely on the cut off date. The absence of the context of the change, coupled with a looming service cut-off date, led customers to flood the business’ contact centre, worried that there was a problem with their account.
Let me explore another example.
A few weeks ago, I had an incident occur with my personal bank. Out of the blue, I received a text message advising that my replacement card was on its way and a reminder that I can activate it through my smartphone app. I hadn’t requested a replacement card, so I felt a sense of dread that someone had hacked my account. I dropped everything and immediately called my bank where I was informed that due to my loyalty, they had decided to proactively upgrade my card at no cost.
What was seen as a proactive action by the bank to deepen their relationship with me, instead resulted in an unnecessary phone call and concern from a loyal customer. As of writing this blog, I have yet to activate this new card.
So, go ahead and audit the way you communicate with your customers:
What is the purpose of your message?
Are you looking to influence a particular action or is your message purely informational? If it’s the latter, let the customer know that. In the absence of any clear understanding of this, some customers will draw the conclusion that there is something they must do, leading to confusion and wasted effort and time.
Is it the right channel?
The purpose/content of the message and any associated timeframe are the key drivers when deciding which channel to use when communicating with your customer. For example, if you need to remind or provide an update on a service appointment later that day, use SMS instead of email.
What action, if any, needs to happen?
Be specific. If you want them to sign up on your website, say so. Don’t tell them to “Contact us for more details”.
Have you included your contact centre leaders in the development of your communication strategy?
In my experience, this rarely happens. Typically, the contact centre will receive a “heads up” about a piece of communication after the fact. Your contact centre leaders talk to your customers every day and will be invaluable in helping you develop and deploy an effective communication strategy.
Should you communicate?
Are there any moments in your customer journey where a new proactive communication will preemptively provide customers a key piece of information that will eliminate the need for them to contact? Consider using a low cost channel such as SMS or email for proactive communications like these, so as to avoid your customer making a more expensive and unplanned phone call or visit to a bricks and mortar location.
Do you set clear expectations?
Many unnecessary contacts are driven by expectations that are not met, even perceived ones. How many times does your centre receive a contact from a customer, asking for an update before the quoted timeframe has expired? Let’s say you have a policy whereby you advise customers that an action will take “7 to 10 business days”.
First, the customer will typically only remember “7 days”. Second, after 4-5 days the customer may recall the 7 day part, but likely forget when the “clock” on the 7 days started ticking. So, instead of “7 to 10 business days”, settle on 10 business days, and translate this into a specific date (eg you will receive your order by 10th November). Then, about halfway through the timeline, send a brief SMS confirming everything is on track for “10th November”.