For call center success, timing is everything. Long wait times, customers on hold, growing queues - these are all signs that a call center is having a bad day. As it stands, some of the most progressive centers utilize real-time data and team wallboards based on digital signage to help agents take corrective action and prevent customer frustration. That's a good start, but now that online chat and emails are also a growing part of a call center's multi-channel service strategy, its real-time reporting tools need an update. This is crucial - positive customer interaction depends on a timely response more than anything else.
Customers grow impatient with slow email, chat response
Increasingly, consumers turn to email and online chat as their preferred business outreach tools. In one industry survey, 53 percent of respondents between 18 and 34 said they would prefer a digital method - like email, chat or texting - over phone conversations when contacting customer support. Moreover, nearly two-thirds of call centers are SMS-responsive, according to Dimension Data, making the messaging technology an important part of call center strategy.
"Consumers' email response demands are increasing."
But perhaps the most important statistics have to do with the increasing importance of rapid responses through these digital interfaces. Simply put: Consumers using email or chat still expect a fast - if not immediate - response.
For example, Toister Performance Solutions' annual survey on email response time expectations found that consumers' demands are increasing: In 2014, 80 percent of consumers would have been happy with a four-hour interval between the initial email and the company response. A year later, that gap shortened to one hour. Given the ease and ubiquity of emailing through mobile devices, it's unlikely that the trend will reverse at any point. And email is typically considered the slow digital communication method - consumers expect online chat to be as conversational as texting or even speaking on the phone.
Why is this so important? Slow responses online and through chat affect customer satisfaction scores almost immediately - and according to Lee Resources, 91 percent of customers who have a bad experience won't do business with that company again.
Call centers need to think outside the phone queue
With more and more customers reaching out through email and chat - and demanding responsive agents - call centers have to embrace tools that offer visibility into these popular lines of communication. When supervisors can examine their call center's digital resources in real time, they can alleviate hold-ups and reallocate agents as necessary to avoid unhappy customers.
Digital signage within the contact center can display queues for incoming email and chat contacts in the same way they do for incoming calls, and there is no reason not to take advantage of this technology. Not only do these displays offer real-time metrics, but they also keep supervisors and agents on the same page. When the goal is to cut queues, it helps to know exactly when and how one is forming and respond before the problem grows.
Again, these trends are not flukes. Call centers that want to maintain efficiency in the digital age have to embrace tools that give them better insight into the ways customers prefer to communicate. It's hard to engage in a positive interaction when the customer is already frustrated by a slow response time right off the bat. Embracing more optimized, responsive call center response tactics gives agents a fair chance at providing customers with the level of support they've come to expect.