4 Secrets to Optimize Your Customer Support Center
It’s no longer enough for your customer support center to simply offer care through phone and email — now, you must offer efficient, well thought out care across digital channels. But figuring out where your customers expect to find your brand online, keeping up with their digital communications, and incorporating new technologies like AI takes strategizing and planning. It's easy to get bogged down with new channels and lose sight of what really matters: delivering excellent care within budget.
Our ebook, Modernizing Your Contact Center: How to Plan and Operate Across Digital Channels, will help you embrace the challenges of digital customer support and plan for and adapt to a market that’s constantly changing. Below we’ll share several secrets from the ebook so that you can start improving the efficiency of your brand’s support center today. For more details, graphs, and examples, you can download the entire ebook.
1) Rethink support center metrics
While digital channels explode and customers expect to be able to contact brands in multiple channels (often at any hour of the day), digital customer support teams often face pressure to both cut costs and improve quality metrics. The solution is to think like a traditional call center: focus on what’s measurable when it comes to your agents’ activities. To better understand how your agents spend their time, look at their productivity in general — how many conversations they handle, how many customers they serve — and then look at how much time each activity takes. Armed with these metrics, you can help individual agents become more efficient without straining their abilities. Customer engagement technology can streamline your brand’s efforts.
Think like a traditional call center: focus on what’s measurable when it comes to your agents’ activities.
2) Improve support center efficiency with automation
When you’re seeking to improve your agents’ efficiency, it’s helpful to understand what slows them down the most and which of those monopolizing tasks can be competently covered by technology like automation. Then, your agents can focus their attention on higher-value tasks.
For example, if your agents are consistently solving for simple questions that are available elsewhere (such as your online community or FAQ page), you can implement a "butler bot" that will pull up that information for agents, saving them the time of searching for the link. The goal is to free up agents' time to provide quality human interactions, not replace them. This leads to customers spending less time on hold and they instead enjoy personalized, timely support. A win-win for the brand and customers.
3) Forecast customer support center resource needs with queue backlog
Determining how many agents your brand needs to meet your customers’ digital customer support needs isn’t a straightforward task, but it can be done, and metrics can help. The best way to figure out what your brand will need is to figure out what your brand does need, hour-by-hour. For that, look at your brand’s queue backlog (QB), which shows the number of conversations waiting for their first response from an agent, and then extrapolate into the future.
The best way to figure out what your brand will need is to figure out what your brand does need, hour-by-hour.
4) Prepare for new customer support channels, like messaging
If everything is working smoothly in your customer support center, the prospect of adding a new channel can feel daunting. However, careful strategizing can make the transition much smoother and you can avoid pitfalls like failing to meet SLAs and going over budget.
First, develop your current benchmarks and use them to estimate the additional agent load of a new channel. Compare your estimates with your current staff and scale — slowly. One key way to ensure you’re taking things at a reasonable pace is to offer a new channel only to select customers at first and grow as you’re able.
Messaging is a major area of focus for digital customer support teams across industries. Though your brand might already offer some form of chat, the next frontier is to move from session- or device-based synchronous chat to the more modern session- and device-independent messaging protocol that, by its very nature, tends to be asynchronous. The below video shows just how impactful messaging can be.
Interestingly, asynchronous communication is and always has been a natural feature of social customer care: conversations on digital channels often start close to real-time (synchronous), but then, if the customer prefers, they often transition into asynchronous conversations. The goal with newer models of chat is to work towards having chats function like asynchronous social conversations as often, this is what customers prefer.
With asynchronous messaging, agents and customers don’t need to be available at the same time and customers are empowered to interact when it’s most convenient for them. Agent performance, however, is more difficult to track with asynchronous messaging. It can, however, still be done (and our ebook can help guide your brand’s efforts).
Asynchronous messaging can empower agents, too: instead of handling just a few conversations at a time, agents can instead interact with multiple customers over differing periods of time — these simultaneous chats are called concurrent chats. Asynchronous messaging technologies like Khoros Care allow for concurrency naturally: for example, it’s not uncommon for an agent to manage 20 to 30 customer conversations at the same time, numbers far higher than the two or three usually associated with conventional chat.
Optimizing your brand’s digital customer support isn’t only important in terms of your brand’s bottom line, it’s also crucial to the customer experience: today’s digital audience has high expectations and little patience for brands that fail to meet those expectations. More information about each of the above sections can be found in our ebook.