Want More Efficient Customer Service? Stop Doing These 5 Things
Speed, accuracy, and creating a memorable experience – in customer care, it’s a constant balancing act between these three elements. Enterprise contact center leaders are continually being pressured to streamline, become more efficient, and do more with less. But how can your team deliver efficient customer service when consumer expectations are high, processes are complex, and SLAs are demanding?
Efficient customer service vs. great customer experience
Efficient customer service and an excellent customer experience (CX) don’t have to be at odds. In fact, speed is a major factor in what customers consider to be a great experience. Research from Forrester has found that three-quarters of consumers say “valuing their time” is the single most important factor in good customer service.
Three-quarters of consumers say “valuing their time” is the single most important factor in good customer service. -Forrester
But how fast do customer service agents need to be? Consumers have certain expectations for response times as well as case handle times which vary by channel. As an example, consumers expect live web chats to be answered in under a minute. Add this to the industry benchmark for average handle time (AHT), which is six minutes, and we get our answer: “pretty fast.”
The best customer support experiences not only resolve the issue quickly, but also accurately and with empathy. Efficient customer service benefits the bottom line and contributes to improving CX.
Benefits of efficient customer service
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of providing efficient customer support.
- More cost-effective. The more quickly customer service agents can resolve each case in their queue, the lower the cost-per-contact will be. Shaving off even a few seconds per case can result in big bottom-line savings.
- Increases customer satisfaction and retention: Considering how much consumers care about companies valuing their time, efficient and accurate customer service builds customer loyalty. In fact, it’s been shown that companies with higher customer satisfaction (in this case, Net Promoter Scores), are more likely to be market leaders and to have higher customer retention rates.
- Contributes to higher revenue and profitability. Stronger customer loyalty brings a range of revenue-related benefits, from higher customer lifetime revenue to better word of mouth. Research from Forrester has validated that CX leaders dramatically outperform laggards in terms of financial growth: 15% five-year CAGR vs. only 3%. And because it’s at least five times cheaper to retain an existing customer compared to acquiring a new one, profit margins grow.
That’s why your customer care should be more efficient, but how can you make it happen? Start by stopping these five behaviors that hinder your team’s efficiency.
The 5 things standing in the way of efficient customer service
To make your customer service agents as efficient as possible, you need to stop…
1. Failing to integrate workflows across all contact channels
Disconnected tools are the enemy of efficiency. Any time your agents need to copy and paste information from one platform to another, as is often the case with social media customer cases, it creates duplicate work and hurts AHT metrics.
Instead, use agent desktop software that allows you to integrate workflows for all contact channels, including phone, email, live chat, social media, white mail, and SMS, into one platform. No matter where the case originates, your agents must be able to work them from a single queue in order to be truly efficient.
2. Using tools that aren’t really designed for the contact center
Some popular CRM tools were not originally built for enterprise customer care, which might not seem like an issue – until your team doesn’t have access to what should be basic customer service management features. Things like a case queue that automatically refreshes as new cases come in, integrated fulfillment for goodwill, case prioritization, multiple issues per case, and so on, make a huge difference to case handle times.
If you’re bending your customer care processes to fit the CRM’s limitations instead of flexing the tool to fit your needs, you’re sacrificing efficiency.
3. Requiring your customer service agents to hunt for answers
Knowledge management in the call center can be a thorny issue. Policies, products, and promotions are ever-changing, and without a centralized system to manage all that information, it quickly gets overwhelming for new and tenured agents alike.
This has an impact on customers, too: more than 80% of consumers are frustrated when an agent doesn’t have the information they need, and 44% report receiving a wrong answer from an agent. When agents have access to a unified knowledge base embedded within their CRM software, they are better able to diagnose customer issues, which has been shown to increase first-contact resolution rates and reduce average handle time.
4. Misusing agents’ time
With customer service automation coming of age, it no longer makes financial sense to have human agents handle every issue. There are certainly customer interactions that require a human touch, the finesse and empathy that only a live agent can provide. But there are many, many others that are mundane, repetitive, and easily automatable. To maximize efficiency, these should be handled by chatbot-based customer self-service and email process automation.
According to research from the Harvard Business Review, when companies use technologies like AI, automation, and chatbots, they can offload more than 50% of customer support interactions. This frees up human agents to devote adequate time to dealing with more sensitive customer issues.
5. Ignoring key metrics
How do you measure customer service efficiency? Many teams use a standard set of call center KPIs, including average handle time (AHT), customer satisfaction scores (CSAT), and first contact resolution (FCR).
But to make efficiency improvements, it’s crucial to dig a level deeper. Are you monitoring trends across channels and actively seeking opportunities for improvement? Tools like social listening and sentiment tracking, omnichannel dashboarding with business intelligence, and post-interaction customer surveys can help you identify and correct friction points in your service journey.