Technology and Staff to Shape Customer Experience
2020 certainly shook the world, and call centers did not emerge unaffected. Many customer service operations quickly transformed their business models. Cloud technology enabled customer service agents to work from home and call centers to continue providing a service.
As we move through 2021, the future is likely to remain uncertain. One thing we can be sure of, though, is that those companies who offer the best customer service experience are still likely to be the most successful. Consider these statistics from HubSpot:
- 76% of customers expect companies to fully understand their needs
- $1.6 trillion is lost each year due to poor customer service
- Customers will spend 17% more for a good experience
- Customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies that aren’t
It’s clear that providing great customer service will reduce your costs, improve customer loyalty, and increase your bottom line. Call center staffing is crucial to this – but in an uncertain world, what trends should you be hiring for in 2021?
1. Increased Take-Up of The Cloud
The cloud will become increasingly important to customer service operations. Ensuring that you have the correct infrastructure will be crucial to taking advantage of databases and the functionality that the cloud offers.
Your customer service agents should also be comfortable using cloud-based systems and accessing databases that are more open.
2. Flexibility and Remote Working
The belief that we’re going to be in and out of lockdowns and suffer continuing and changing restrictions is growing. The rollout of vaccinations has given us hope. However, as they say, while we hope for the best we should plan for the worst.
It makes sense to ensure that your people are prepared for a roller-coaster ride once more in 2021. There may be periods when they must work from home, or social distancing rules may require your call center to limit the number of employees present.
Expect such a hybrid model, and ensure your staffing is aptly talented to thrive in a challenging environment. Seek employees who possess diversified skills, and ensure they are comfortable to use all of your company’s resources.
3. Reducing Customer Frustration with Remote Customer Service Agents
Remote working capability will enable your call center to operate at something near full capacity when it is not possible to work in the office. By building out a cloud-based infrastructure, you also enable hiring of talent from across the United States. This will give you access to a deeper pool of talent and the ability to offer exceptional customer service for longer hours at a reduced cost.
Such flexibility will allow you to scale your operations quickly, responding to evolving circumstances and ensuring you maintain a great reputation with your customers.
4. Improving Efficiency with Automation
Automating your operations using AI technology will help you improve efficiency and customer service. Examples include:
- Collecting and analyzing customer data
- Voice and chat bots, enabling faster and more accurate routing of calls
- Providing real-time access to tools and solutions for customer service agents
One application that you might consider is real-time transcription of calls, enabling immediate delivery of information between agents and providing a smoother route for AI technology to determine the customer’s best route for problem solving.
AI technology can enhance your agents’ ability to deliver empathetic advice, by measuring sentiment during the call and offering suggestions to the agent.
Such approaches to call center activities have been shown to improve customer satisfaction, reduce costs, and increase agents’ productivity.
5. Increase Cybersecurity
With a more distributed workforce and increased reliance on technology, you must prioritize digital security with competent cybersecurity policies and processes.
Your customers must be able to move seamlessly between AI automated communication channels and human interactions, and feel secure when doing so. Their information must be stored securely.
Your remote and in-office workers must be subject to extra security measures, and remain updated with the latest developments in regulations.
6. Customer Service is Another Point of Sale
Your customer service agents will become another point of sale. They must possess the knowledge of your products and services that enable them to identify opportunities to cross-sell and upsell – and have the skills to satisfy this.
7. Development of New Training
Call center employees will require new skills to adapt to new working practices, automation, and technology. Your training programs will need to adjust accordingly, and so they can be delivered to employees who may be in their homes and hundreds of miles away.
Different methods of learning – such as gamification and formats for different learning styles – are likely to become mainstream. AI technology may be used to flag up training needs of individual agents. This will enable personalized training programs to be delivered, thus improving individual and team standards and capabilities. It is essential that you recruit people who are open to training and development opportunities – and who are self-motivated to learn.
Are you Prepared for Effective Call Center Staffing in 2021?
2021 may be another year of uncertainty, but it is also a year of great promise. While technology is likely to play a bigger part in your operations, there is no substitute for human interaction.
Digital solutions will help to deliver efficient problem solving for low-level issues. Quality agents are needed to provide the empathy and creative solutions required for more complex issues.
Enveloping your call center hiring strategy around these emerging trends will help you provide efficient and cost-effective customer service – the service that develops greater customer loyalty, reduces errors and costs, and increases sales and revenue.