TASKE Technology's Call Center Blog

Last year, we looked at three common challenges during the holiday season, including marketing campaigns that bring in first-time customers, fewer discretionary spending dollars, and overtaxed agents. Unfortunately, this year’s economy is not much improved, and you may again find yourself dealing with the same issues. However, it’s important to keep an eye to the future so that you’re prepared when markets take a turn for the better. Let’s take a look at how you may be able to leverage existing expertise and resources to meet slightly different customer expectations in the future.

Broaden Agent Knowledge and Awareness

Over the last few years, customers have become more sophisticated. The wealth of information available on the Internet and increasingly aggressive marketing from your competitors means that customers may be more aware of issues, and alternative products and services before making contact with your agents.

To effectively handle well-informed customers, it’s important to educate your agents on more than your own products and services. Ensure that they are prepared to deal with a broader spectrum of customer issues, such as comparisons to your competitors’ products or services, keeping information up-to-date as new products or pricing strategies are introduced in your market.

Maximize Use of Available Resources

Technological advances have introduced a variety of possibilities for the tools that support your agents, including CRMs, bug-tracking systems, and workforce management software. You may also have a repository of reference information for agents to quickly search for answers to customer inquiries. These types of knowledge management systems are growing in popularity as solution providers add features that not only allow agents to search for answers to customer questions, but also, to answer customer questions online and track social media interactions.

Regardless of the information sources available to your agents, ensure that access is easy and reliable. You don’t want to keep customers waiting while agents struggle to use a tool.

Leverage Historical Data to Provide Value-Added Services

Proactively anticipating customer needs is always a worthwhile endeavor. A good starting point for accurately analyzing what those needs may be is your historical data. See if there are patterns in customer behavior that you can take steps to address in advance. For example, you may notice that first-time customers generally call your contact center within the first month to ask about warranty information. You could start calling customers one week after a product purchase to explain the warranty and help them with the registration process. This practice may increase customer satisfaction because you contacted the customer before the customer had to make the effort to contact you.

In the article “Proactive Outbound Contact”, Lori Bocklund writes that “proactive outbound contact enables companies to connect with and inform customers, anticipating their needs, reaching out with useful and timely communications, and triggering execution of the right transactions and outcomes at the right time”. She describes both the added value for customers and the tangible cost benefits for the organization.

There’s one caution we’d like you to keep in mind when considering proactive contact with existing or potential customers. Legislation exists concerning contact with people who have not given you permission to do so. Ensure that the methods you use for contacting people and the type of information you communicate does not conflict with accepted and legal practices.

This is a time of year when we reflect on past successes and look forward to new ventures. Despite the challenges businesses have faced in 2012, it’s still important to plan for improved markets as these will require that we adjust our current practices to meet different customer expectations. Take the time now to put plans in place to successfully handle those expectations and keep your customers satisfied.

Happy holidays.

Tags: best practices, business objectives, communication channels, customer loyalty, customer satisfaction, customers, economy, forecasting, self-service, trends, workforce management.

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