Service with a (virtual) smile

Customer Service

Another week, another Australian company announcing plans to repatriate its contact centre operations, to improve customer support and responsiveness and reduce the risk of operational disruption. This time it’s Westpac, preparing to take on 1000 agents to handle consumer enquiries.

It’s tacit acknowledgement of the fact that it makes a difference to customers who handles their enquiries and how they do so; never more so than when the chips are down.

From backroom to centre stage

The critical role played by contact centres during turbulent times has been one of the many stories to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Once regarded as one of the least glamorous areas of operations, they’re increasingly being recognised as the heart of the business. The service they provide is a key component of customer experience – the sum total of interactions between a company and its customers over the course of their relationship.

Are you wondering whether yours offers the sort of service that surprises and delights your customers and keeps them coming back for more? Here are some of the secrets to delivering a consistently outstanding customer experience via your contact centre.

Choice of channels

Some people are old school and like to chat on the phone. For others it’s anathema; they’d rather deal by email or use instant messaging to make an enquiry or resolve an issue. Different strokes for different folks, as the old saying has it. That’s why it makes sense to make your organisation available on multiple channels, if you’re serious about keeping more people happy, more often.

High-quality agents

Efficient, enthusiastic, helpful and respectful – contact centre agents who are good at their job are worth seeking out and keeping. In 2020, finding people with the requisite skills and attitude is easier than it used to be. The economic fall-out from COVID-19 has pushed thousands of Australians into unemployment, many of them with highly transportable skills – think former travel and airline industry workers with their stellar customer service backgrounds and experience with hi-tech systems. Allowing agents to work remotely enables you to cast your net further afield and hire quality people from any location which has suitable communications infrastructure.

Tools and training

However high calibre your agents, they’ll have a hard time elevating your customer experience if you don’t give them the tools they need to succeed. That includes comprehensive training when they join, ongoing coaching and mentoring and access to a knowledge bank and scripts which reflect common scenarios. Encouraging agents to understand their place in the customer experience puzzle by providing feedback and metrics which reflect their performance can help to foster a culture of continuous improvement.

A robust technology platform

Creating a consistently excellent customer experience is not easy and it’s well-nigh impossible if the technology you’re depending on to help you do so is not reliable. That’s why a robust, secure contact centre platform, from a vendor which supports and updates its product continually, is a powerful asset which can mean the difference between awesome and average service.

Striving for success in a changed world

Today’s challenging economic times leave no room for complacency. Companies which survive and thrive in a post-pandemic world are likely to be those which consistently provide customers with a seamless, superlative customer experience. Optimising your contact centre is a great place to start.

Daniel Harding, Director of Australian Operations, MaxContact