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How to combat rising customer impatience

“Of human virtues, patience is most great.”

That statement has been attributed to Cato the Elder, the first-century B.C. Roman historian.

While the statement reveals the everyday struggle that humankind has had with the issue, Cato did not live in the digital age where instant gratification has become a lifestyle – and a bit of an individual right.

Worse, Cato never had to call a contact centre.

Today, the contact centre is the Petri dish where expectations and frustration meet. Where customers are a click away from the edge.

Impatience On the Rise in Contact Centre CX

A 2022 Zendesk CX Accelerator report found that over the last 12 months, 66 percent of customers have become increasingly less patient with companies that are slow in adapting to shifting expectations.

The statistics are concerning.

The report indicates that average response times have also increased by 24 percent year-on-year, with more than 60 percent of companies taking more than an hour to respond to enquiries.

Combatting this in an era of recruitment woes is tricky. Yet, 90 percent of businesses have now implemented bots to route customers to the right place, attempting to match them with the best placed agents. In doing so, the hope is to solve queries faster and speed up call queues.

With this technology, businesses are dipping their toes in the water of conversational AI. In time, bots will likely play a much bigger part in customer experience.

The No Man’s Land of the Queue

While routing is enabling better experiences, cumbersome IVR journeys remain a struggle. “Press 1 for sales, 2 for billing, press 3 for tech support.” They quickly end up in an uncertain digital location where long wait times and poor queue messaging create the boil-over effect.

“Poor queue messaging occurs when a customer is told they can solve many of their questions on the website,” said Richard Gregory, Senior Sales Executive at Odigo. “But most customers have already tried that. That’s why they’re calling the contact centre in the first place. It’s not their first stop,” he explained.

Customers vent, which increases agent stress. That leads to poor performance, which leads to agent burnout.

The worst possible outcome is an unforgiving customer. At that point, they are at the edge of no return. They’ll jump ship and go elsewhere.

Technology To the Rescue – Partially

There are no quick fixes. But with the appropriate application of CCaaS tools, contact centres are today mitigating the boiling point.

“The key is for businesses to do accurate planning,” Gregory said. “Recognise that customers call in with expectations that are higher than ever.”

They want frictionless interactions, fast responses, and accurate answers.

But there is a caveat. There is a subtle balance between tools and technologies that facilitate a friction-free CX and human interactions on the other.

Keep in mind that human beings don’t necessarily want to live in a world dominated by bots. They aren’t looking for the Metaverse experience when they call your contact centre.

Specific CCaaS Strategies to Consider

Speech analytics can help self-service. It enables brands to evaluate which customer queries follow a simple resolution process and drive a high percentage of contact centre demand. Then, consider solving the upstream issue or implementing bots to automate these contacts which offer immediate support.

For those contacts that are too tricky to automate completely, consider how to cut down handling times through employing agent support tools and automation.

As an example of the latter, use bots to take information from customers as they wait in the queue, which will help streamline the following interaction and allow agents to serve more customers faster.

Also, the wait time experience becomes more engaging and defuses impatience.

Forecast The Load To Bring Things into Balance

Meeting service levels is the ultimate goal to reduce customer impatience.

“Accurate forecasting is crucial,” Gregory said. “A workforce management (WFM) system can help tremendously by providing algorithms to automate the process. But different algorithms work better for different environments,” he explained.

So, test the algorithms on old data. That way, the contact centre can determine what works best across seasons, holidays, and peak times, enabling accurate forecasts, better agent schedules, and – ultimately – improved service level accuracy.

Many solutions – including better contact routing, proactive messaging, and knowledge management tools – will also help streamline contact centre operations and meet increasing customer expectations.

Final Thoughts

Our lives today are driven by instant everything. Instant messaging, instant meals, and all the apps that save time have radically transformed our lives into a daily stream of instant gratification moments. In the bargain, we’ve all become creatures of higher and higher expectations.

But, by integrating the right CCaaS tools – with a deft human touch – patience will win the day.

Source: CX Today


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