Real Time Communications Featured Article

Communication in Customer Service

April 04, 2016


It is the single most effective tool in any facet of business, especially when it comes to customer relations. Good or bad customer relations can make or break a company’s bottom line.

A well-respected customer relations program builds a loyal customer following. According to an Ovum report, 76 percent of customers questioned said they have “stopped doing business with a company because of a bad service experience.” With communication at the core of effective service delivery, companies should equip employees with important communication tools, information and training.

One area where the need for critical information and effective communication tools is great is in contact centers and call centers. In today’s world, customer service call center agents are the voice of a company; they are the ones who cater to the needs of customers, listen to the issues they have, and help provide the best possible solution.

A company as a whole should provide their agents with the best tools, so they can provide the best possible customer service – which will impact customer retention and revenue figures. In order for a company to ensure their agents are working efficiently, effectively, and productively, they must be provided with right information in real-time.

Real-time metrics (e.g., calls in queue, average response time, etc.) are valuable assets for organizations to consult when determining best operation practices. The data provides agents with the information necessary to communicate closely with their managers to meet and exceed daily quotas.

Real-time data can be instrumental in helping call center agents proactively address emerging service issues. If a call center agent notices the wait time is high, they can try to move their calls along quicker or engage others in working down the queue. Perhaps an agent sees sales are down because of a notification that popped up in real time on their computer; they can push harder to close the sale in an attempt to increase revenue.

Another feature a company can provide to its call center agents is statistical data that allows managers and agents to pinpoint performance issues as well as staffing needs. Total number of calls handled over the last week, percentage of abandoned calls, and time spent on calls are all quantifiable – and can help the manager determine the right number of agents needed for a particular shift.

Data should be evaluated on individual, team, department, and company levels to ensure all areas are meeting performance standards and have access to the right information at the right time.

Providing managers with the ability to view and monitor agents will allow them to make timely adjustments – perhaps one agent excels at timely solutions, but is not as thorough as another agent, or vice versa. Managers could pair these two together, allowing them to discuss what works and what doesn’t work for either agent, effectively taking steps to become a better contact center and potentially increasing sales.

Another communication strategy that companies have begun to employ is called gamification.   Gamification utilizes important performance data on individuals and teams to create healthy competition which improves performance. Individual and team scores can be displayed visually using digital signage and other communication tools, creating a healthy, competitive atmosphere.    

By applying elements typically found in games – points, competition, rules – companies can achieve positive outcomes including increased employee motivation, which leads to an increase in sales and employee retention. This is because gamification involves both intrinsic (makes employees feel good) and extrinsic (allows employees to be recognized because of their performance) rewards.

Along with gamification, companies are increasingly making key performance indicators and agent performance visible on large displays, desktops and mobile devices. This enables agents to see how they are performing – e.g., average call wait time – and provide tangible feedback that they can act on to improve performance. This data is most effective when prominently displayed and provides information about how agents can reduce not only call wait times but also talk time – thus improving customer satisfaction. Visualization of statistical data has been directly correlated to an improvement in first-call resolutions (which has a direct impact on customer retention).

Providing managers with the ability to view and monitor agents allows them to recognize strengths and weaknesses and initiate a plan to maximize agents’ abilities and contributions. This allows the company to develop a better contact center that will drive sales and improve customer relations.

Given that many companies now have distributed workforces and potentially multiple call centers, it is imperative that real-time performance information can be displayed across a variety of platforms. By assuring that dashboards can be easily accessed across mobile, laptop, tablet, or desktop, managers are taking the next steps into the future of customer service with the opportunity to reach virtually 100% of their employees, when and where they work.

A digitally enabled contact center would allow businesses to deliver relevant KPIs (key performance indicators) such as schedule adherence, active/waiting calls, call abandonment, and average handle time across their service network. Embracing modern contact centers solutions allows companies to record vital statistics of the business in real time – and relay those numbers to the operators, managers, and other personnel as they work.

To overcome the many communication barriers facing businesses in the modern world, a company must be willing to embrace the use of real-time performance information. The use of real-time information not only helps companies solve issues with incoming customer calls but also improve outbound call handling and internal performance management.    

Steve Chang is the Senior Vice President of Strategy and Solutions for RMG Networks, headquartered in Dallas, TX. He has more than 30 years of relevant industry experience and a proven track record when it comes to developing and implementing strategies that drive growth in companies.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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