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4 Best Practices for Peak-Volume Customer Experience Management — Part II

Our previous blog post provided two of the four best practices for peak-volume customer experience management where we explained that when customer complaints, questions or other issues spike, the situation doesn’t have to drain the quality from your customer experience. Here we address two additional best practices of critical importance to contact centers that will help ensure an optimal customer experience, even at peak volume times.

3. How can agents reduce wait times in a contact center?

As customer interaction has evolved, too many companies have just bolstered tools onto existing systems – resulting in channel siloes that divide agents into either phone duties or chat tasks. Multitasking is cumbersome to agents, who have to bounce around separate interfaces to manage multiple channels, and to customers, who can’t switch channels smoothly to find solutions they need.

Integrating all contact center interactions into a single interface can streamline the experience for agents and customers alike. Queues from every channel are consolidated through a single decision-making engine, so supervisors can actually manage efficiency and productivity, rather than manually assigning agents to certain channel silos.

As mentioned earlier, a lot of consumers would rather eat old fruitcake than pick up the phone to call a company’s customer service center because they don’t want to deal with the hassle. Every time they’re put on hold, transferred to another department, or asked to repeat their personal information and/or issue in the search for a qualified solution, that fruitcake seems more appealing than the contact center runaround.

Skills-based routing can direct calls to the agent with the knowledge best-suited to that query. So a telecom company may identify a handful of agents who handle all the Internet calls, and another group of cable experts who tackle TV questions. Routing works across channels too, so if a customer clicks the live chat button on the website from certain product pages, they’ll be directed to a certain agent.

And, if the destined experts are busy, skills-based routing works within set parameters. So, for example, once the wait time reaches its threshold of, say, five minutes, then the queue rolls over to the next available agent. Though he may not be an expert in the topic, he has the tools to deliver a solution and keep wait times down.

4. How can contact centers improve first-contact resolution during peak times?

The goal of first-contact resolution has to be balanced with the goal of reducing wait times. Obviously, the longer agents take to resolve a single incident, the longer other customers wait in queue. But it’s crucial that agents have enough time to accurately solve each issue, instead of rushing through calls and skimping on proper service.

Imposing time limits on customer interactions can actually harm both metrics by creating environments where agents are reduced to automatons — trained to answer calls, collect information, and move on to the next call in less than 60 seconds. If, in a rush to get to the next call, an agent gives out less-than-accurate information, the shortcut ends up causing repeat calls.

Encourage agents to take as long as they need to properly resolve calls. Instead of saying, “Don’t take longer than five minutes per call,” say, “Take as long as you need, but make sure you’re looking at the right screens and using the right tools to control the call efficiently.”

Monitoring first-call resolution requires a two-pronged approach. If you only use call recording to monitor agent interactions, you’re only getting a small part of the overall picture. Call monitoring must be paired with screen captures, where you can also observe which tools agents use during a call. With real-time performance monitoring, supervisors can gauge agent effectiveness with a clear view of their presence, location, activity and performance.

Published in contact center contact center agent contact center optimization customer experience customer service customer support