Call centers aren’t traditionally considered fundamental to a marketing plan. In fact, they usually aren’t included at all. But why not? Customer service is one of the most ignored opportunities for brand-building within an organization.
Not only are call centers responsible for resolving customer issues, but they also play a key role in customer satisfaction and retention. They can do this by building loyalty using consistent brand messaging tactics found in any effective marketing strategy. Additionally, call centers have a direct line of contact with customers every day, through multiple channels. Social media, mobile live chat, phone, and email are all open lines of communication that provide perfect opportunities to build a brand.
Turns out, call centers are pretty critical to a company’s success, which means it’s time to invest more in their success. Aside from employee education, refined processes, and hiring the right people, there’s something else to consider: the quality of your contact data.
According to the 2011 CFI Group Call Center Satisfaction Index report, of the five satisfaction drivers the report identified (representative’s knowledge, representative’s demeanor, ease of understanding the representative, policies and procedures, and contact process), improving the contact process was cited as having the greatest impact on customer satisfaction, loyalty, and referrals.
Unfortunately, developing a more effective contact process also seems like the most difficult and daunting driver to tackle. The easiest place to start with improving contact process might be the least apparent: focusing on the quality of your data, an area that has tremendous potential for improvement. Leveraging intelligent contact data that is comprehensive, accurate, up-to-date, evolves with customers, and easily integrates with customer relationship management [CRM] and computer telephony integration [CTI] systems can deliver significant process efficiencies that result in increased customer and rep satisfaction, stronger customer relationships, and improved call center performance.
Expediting the Customer Identification Process
Customers typically contact call centers for very specific reasons, and before a representative can even pick up, the call is already perceived by the caller as an inconvenience. This means the entire call needs to be as efficient as possible. The easiest way to cut down on call time—and frustration—is by identifying and verifying the customer information quickly. Collecting contact information from the caller in real time can be time consuming, which makes time spent on the phone much less efficient for both the customer and the representative.
Intelligent contact providers can offer accurate updates about contact information that easily integrates with existing CRM and CTI systems. So when a customer calls, his or her information automatically pops up for verification. This saves time, reduces misinterpretation, and allows customer service reps to begin solving the customer’s issue faster, which not only increases customer satisfaction, but rep satisfaction as well. This efficient process will leave customers with a positive experience, and, consequently, a confident feeling toward the brand.
Building Customer Relationships
Another reason to use intelligent data is to maximize a CRM system’s ability to provide an in-depth profile of the customer on the other end of the line. The enhanced data that goes beyond basic contact information allows for a more personalized and informed experience for the customer. For instance, the records can indicate other members of the household, which eliminates duplicate records. The more accurate and comprehensive your contact records are, the stronger your relationships with customers will be. As a result, brand loyalty is also increased.
Improved Call Center Performance
Most importantly, using intelligent data will help improve call-centric metrics. Skipping the step of collecting information, and just verifying, reduces the average handling time, and allows customer service representatives to handle a greater volume of calls per hour. This will help reduce costs and result in increased profitability.
Access to intelligent contact data can help make a call center more efficient, and increase both customer and representative satisfaction, but it’s still only one effort. Making sure the right people are hired and properly educated is just as important. Remember, a call center is an extension of the brand with direct communication with customers. It’s one of a company’s most valuable assets, and should be treated as such.