Customer experience (CX) can make or break your business, and contact centers are a key touchpoint that customers have with your brand. So if you run a contact center or use one for your business, understanding and enhancing your contact center CX is crucial to your long-term success.
Contact center CX is simply the overall experience your customers have when interacting with your company’s contact center. That means everything from call quality to the effectiveness of resolutions.
A lot of businesses believe that investing in new technology is the key to improving your contact center CX, but we want to bust that myth. The truth is, with just a few CX improvements, you can uplevel your contact center—at no additional cost.
Trends in Contact Center CX
As technology advances and customer expectations change, contact center CX continues to evolve.
Some of the biggest trends worth keeping an eye on include:
- Rising Impact of AI: There’s a lot of hype around AI, but there’s no doubt that artificial intelligence is transforming contact centers. From chatbots handling routine queries to advanced analytics predicting customer behavior, AI is here to stay. But while it can help personalize interactions and streamline processes, its implementation often comes with a hefty price tag.
- Shift in Customer Expectations: Your customers expect quick, efficient, and personalized service. They also want you to meet them where they’re at. That means offering omnichannel support—phone, email, live chat, and social media are just a few examples. This shift requires contact centers to adapt and ensure consistent quality across all channels.
- Emphasis on Employee Experience: There’s a growing recognition that a positive employee experience leads to better customer service. That’s why contact centers are focusing more on agent training, support, and tools to enhance job satisfaction and efficiency.
6 Zero-Spend Ways to Improve Contact Center CX
Some trends, like AI, point towards a tech-heavy approach, but others, like improved employee experience, are possible at little to no cost. In other words, not all improvements require new investments.
So if you’re looking to improve contact center CX without spending on tech, consider leveraging the tools and resources you already have in place.
1. Support Your Agents
Burnout is common in contact centers, and attrition is high. So anything you can do to support your agents helps, and it’ll likely trickle down to improve your customer experience.
One way to support agents is through regular and comprehensive training sessions. Having experienced team members share tips in peer-to-peer training sessions is a beneficial and engaging way to build comradery amongst team members.
Circling back to burnout, you can also offer flexible scheduling that gives employees options to work their preferred shifts. Make sure you’re also offering plenty of PTO, and create a culture where your managers encourage employees to actually use their time off. Nothing leads to burnout quicker than an overworked employee who hasn’t taken a vacation day in months.
Continuous feedback and coaching can also help. Encouraging supervisors to focus on constructive feedback, rather than solely on performance metrics, can create a more supportive and growth-oriented culture. Empowering your agents by involving them in decision-making processes and valuing their suggestions can also go a long way toward creating a stronger sense of team ownership.
2. Survey Your Customers
If you want to know what customers think of their experience, the best way to find out is to ask. And there are ways to do so without making big investments.
Consider low-cost feedback mechanisms, like email follow-ups or quick phone surveys. These simple post-interaction surveys can provide valuable insights into customer satisfaction. Plus, they’re easy and inexpensive to implement.
Basic analysis of customer feedback can be done manually or with standard office software. Over time, you’ll identify common themes, sticking points, and areas of concern.
That said, for high-volume contact centers, investing in specialized contact center quality assurance software might be justified. These tools can automate and streamline the feedback analysis process, providing real-time insights that are crucial for larger operations.
But for smaller or medium-sized centers, manual methods and basic tools can be surprisingly effective in capturing and utilizing customer feedback to refine your CX strategy.
3. Streamline IVR Menus
Improving your customer experience could also begin the moment customers reach out to your contact center. How? By streamlining your Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system. A well-designed IVR menu can significantly improve customer experience.
To streamline your IVR menus:
- Assess Current IVR Effectiveness: Start by evaluating your current IVR system. Identify points where customers frequently get stuck or opt to exit the IVR to speak to an agent. Analyzing call logs and dropout rates can provide insights into which parts of the menu are causing frustration.
- Simplify Menu Options: Experiment with reducing the number of options in each menu to avoid overwhelming your callers. Focus on the most common reasons customers call and ensure these are addressed early in the menu. Make sure you’re using clear, concise language.
- Prioritize Quick Resolution Paths: Arrange the menu options in a way that the most frequently selected choices are presented first. If certain queries can be resolved without agent intervention, such as account balance inquiries or payment confirmations, make those options readily available.
- Regular Updates Based on Feedback: Going back to our last tip, continuously gather feedback on the IVR system, both from customers and your agents. Use this feedback to make regular adjustments. For example, if a new product or service is leading to an increase in calls, update the IVR prompts to address this immediately.
- Test and Iterate: Implement changes in stages and monitor their impact. You can experiment with A/B testing different versions of the IVR menu to determine which is more effective in improving caller experience and reducing call handling times.
4. Implement Effective Call Routing
Optimizing call routing in your contact center can go a long way toward improving CX. By ensuring that customers are connected with the most appropriate agent or department, you can reduce wait times and increase the likelihood of first-call resolution.
Here’s how to maximize the effectiveness of your call routing.
- Analyze Call Patterns: Start by analyzing the types of calls your center receives. Are there patterns, peak times, or common queries? This analysis will help you understand how to categorize calls and route them more efficiently.
- Skill-based Routing: Implement skill-based routing by assigning calls to agents based on their expertise. For example, technical queries can be directed to agents with technical knowledge, while billing questions go to those trained in finance. This ensures customers are speaking with the most qualified person to handle their specific issues.
- Dynamic Routing Adjustments: Be prepared to adjust routing strategies dynamically. For example, if there’s a surge in calls about a particular issue, temporarily reroute these calls to a dedicated team trained to handle that specific problem.
- Feedback Loop with Agents: Create a feedback loop with your agents. They’re the ones on the front line and can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your current routing system. Utilize their feedback to make ongoing improvements.
As you update routing strategies, just make sure your agents are regularly trained on any changes. They should be well-informed about the types of calls they’ll receive and the standard procedures for handling them.
5. Maintain an Internal Knowledge Base
Creating and maintaining a comprehensive internal knowledge base is a cost-effective way to empower your agents to offer better service. This knowledge base should encompass things like in-depth product details, troubleshooting guides, frequently asked questions, and any other resources relevant to customer inquiries. The key is to ensure this content is thorough yet easy to understand.
The effectiveness of a knowledge base hinges on its currency and relevance. As products evolve or new customer issues emerge, the knowledge base has to be updated accordingly. Make sure you designate a team or an individual for this task to ensure that the information remains up-to-date and accurate.
The structure and accessibility of the knowledge base are just as important as its content. Agents need to be able to navigate it without problems. A well-implemented search functionality can significantly cut down on time spent searching for specific information. You can also train agents on best-practices for leveraging the knowledge base.
Finally, since agents have hands-on experience and daily interactions with customers, they can provide invaluable insights into what’s worth documenting for future calls. Encouraging agents to contribute suggestions and feedback not only enriches the resource but also instills a sense of ownership and engagement in the team.
6. Map the Customer Journey
Do you know all of the touchpoints your customers make during their experience with your contact center? If not, consider customer journey mapping. It can give you and your agents a more comprehensive view of the customer experience and highlight areas where improvements can be made without additional financial investment.
This “mapping” process begins by identifying all the stages a customer goes through when engaging with the contact center.
- The initial call
- Interaction with the IVR system
- Time spent on hold
- Conversation with an agent
- Any follow-up communications
By mapping out these stages, you’ll gain a detailed understanding of your customer’s experience and be able to better identify specific pain points or areas of frustration.
The biggest benefit here is that contact centers can essentially view their services from the customer’s perspective. This change in perspective alone often reveals inefficiencies or issues that aren’t apparent from an internal viewpoint.
For example, customers may find certain IVR prompts confusing or may feel that their needs are not being adequately addressed during the first point of contact.
After identifying these areas, you can implement changes to improve the customer experience at each touchpoint. This could involve rewording IVR prompts for clarity, training agents to handle specific types of queries more effectively, or improving the process for escalating complex issues.
Overall, it’s a cost-effective tool for identifying and addressing common bottlenecks in your contact center that may be impacting customer satisfaction.
CX is increasingly important, but that doesn’t mean you need to go drop a ton of money on the hottest new technology. There are plenty of strategies you can start leveraging now at no additional cost.
From streamlining IVR menus and optimizing call routing to fostering a supportive environment through regular training sessions, there’s something on the list above that nearly any contact center could benefit from.
Investing in technology has its place, but it’s not always the answer. The key to improving your contact center CX might just lie in making the most out of the valuable resources you already have.