Tips from 7 Customer Service Experts

As companies rev up for the holiday season, chat bots are being tested, additional agents are being brought on board to handle larger call volumes, and software is being implemented and tested in contact centers around the world.

Customer service is no longer viewed as a process to help answer customers' questions, but as essential to companies' futures, reputations, and bottom lines. Customers today have a plethora of companies from which to choose , so businesses need to be able to meet their demands as quickly and seamlessly as possible. So this year, we decided to speak with several customer service professionals about how to effectively and successfully deliver customer service.

Here are seven tips from customer service experts for effectively running a contact center and in turn, create an outstanding customer experience:

"A contact center can only be as great as the technology it possesses. For a more effective contact center, you must be willing to optimize the technology available to you and go out and find the right tools to complement what you already have. Just having the technology is not enough; you have to be willing to leverage every ounce of that technology to obtain the results you want."

--Casey Brandt, senior account manager at Gilsbar.

"Customer service starts the moment your customer dials your number. Spend as much time enhancing your interactive voice response (IVR) to be customer-friendly as you do your agents."

-- Gene Howell, director of process optimization/dialer operations at Curo Financial Technologies.

"One tip I have for experts looking to build a more effective contact center is to use data to inform decision making. Whether you're trying to make improvements to your IVR, measure customer sentiment with customer satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS), or improve other key metrics, leveraging data is important."

--Hannah Gordon, market research analyst at JustAnswer.

"Integrate your customer database and CRM with the phone system. The customer won't need to provide their information, so you can provide quicker service."

--Andrew Lassise, CEO of Rush Tech Support.

"For maximum customer service, contact centers should measure service level compliance on an hourly basis. By measuring this frequently, organizations are able to create tiered compliance levels and identify the outliers in a targeted manner. For example, tier-1 service level compliance is 80/20 (80 percent of the calls answered within 20 seconds)."

--Stacy Calvaruso, founder and CEO of Access Strategies.

"As system admin for our company, we send a report to our inbound manager with any calls over a five minute queue time, and we reach out to these customers to make sure all is good and to apologize for any long hold times."

--Sevan Menechian, system administrator at Golden Hippo.

"There is so much focus today on providing omnichannel customer service. However, in my experience working customer implementations across health, finance, retail, and [business process outsourcing] industries, I've realized not all agents can properly multitask to ensure a positive customer experience. Only a select number of agents excel at this.

I always advise the contact center supervisor to limit less skilled agents to work in only two channels at a time and control the number of interactions they are assigned to work on concurrently. By determining which agents have omnichannel skills, you can ensure that they are matched with customers who have more complex issues."

--Danny Wang, senior product manager at Five9.

This holiday season, take a deeper look at your customer service strategies. Does your business have the right tools to empower your agents to properly deliver best-in-class customer service? Are your customers at the forefront of your digital transformation plans? Be sure to share your customer service initiatives for this holiday season.

Ted Jordan is vice president of customer service at Five9.

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