How to Turn Your Contact Center Into a Cash Cow
Contact centers provide multiple contact methods for customers and clients — everything from phone to email, and chat and social media. But benefits extend far beyond multi-channel communication. Contact centers act as a central hub for customers and businesses to connect to and understand one another. When trained correctly, your contact center agents will help facilitate lasting relationships between brands and consumers while gaining a better understanding of customer wants and needs. All of this translates to a better business reputation and, as a result, increased profitability.
Learn how to boost your multi-channel contact or call center business profits with these five tips:
1. Keep Customer Service Number One
The quality of a product or service means little if the customer service is lacking. Excellent service is what engages and excites customers. It sets your organization apart from the competition. Because word travels fast, quality service is also the best form of free marketing available.
Make customer service a priority with these tips:
- Practice active listening: Have you ever had a customer service experience where the agent seemed to be more concerned with moving on to the next person in line than assisting you? It doesn’t feel good. Practice active listening during each customer interaction by asking questions and striving to see concerns from the customer’s perspective. Be proactive. Train staff to seek outside assistance from management or coworkers when necessary.
- Use positive language: Using positive language goes beyond kindness and patience, though those are also important. Positive language means reconstructing your sentences to avoid negativity or pessimism. By centering the conversation on what you can do for the customer, it helps them feel heard and confident that you can resolve their issue or deliver a quality product. Positivity also includes reassurance about consumer privacy, when necessary.
- Understand your clientele: The best way to assist a customer is to understand who they are and why they’re calling. Create customer profiles to get insight into their values, wants, concerns, needs, and history. Collect feedback after each interaction, use it for future training, and dig further into who your target clientele is, so you can make better recommendations and focus your marketing.
- Establish guidelines: Have clear procedures and established protocols, so agents know where to go for assistance and how to handle each type of customer interaction.
Have plans in place to continue assessing and refining customer service training, especially as your products and services change. Customers will reward you with loyalty and trust your judgment when making recommendations.
2. Eliminate Hurdles for Contact Center Workers
If a portion of your profits rests on your ability to deliver exceptional customer service, then it’s crucial that you give your customer service agents the tools and resources they need to be successful. Some of the most common hurdles that hinder call center profit and productivity are:
- Poor connection: When your agents’ phone calls or internet connections are unstable, they risk losing contact with the customer on the other end. This is very frustrating for the consumer and makes your agents’ job more challenging. Slow speeds also eat away at your productivity time. By ensuring your agents have access to fast, uninterrupted internet and phone connections, you’re giving them what they need to facilitate quick and effective communication.
- Inadequate training: All customer service agents must be trained on the proper protocols for handling various interactions, like inquiries, customer concerns, or cold calling. Part of your training process should be geared toward learning the product or service your agents are responsible for, so they are better prepared to assist customers. Hold regular training sessions throughout the year for new and seasoned agents to introduce new skills and address frequent questions or issues. Integrate ongoing feedback programs, like annual reviews, that encourage employees to make suggestions.
- Employee retention: Losing and replacing an employee is expensive. You must pay for hiring advertisements, complete new-hire paperwork, and spend valuable work time training your new recruit. Create policies that empower and protect your agents to foster a positive work environment and reduce costly employee turnover. Supportive policies — some of which are legally required — include those that promote positive health and safety, vacation and time-off plans, emergency protocols, open door communication, and equal opportunity employment. Make employee skill building a priority — it teaches them the things they need to know to succeed and gives them more incentive to continue growing with your company.
You should also be mindful of scheduling practices. Overstaffing your office is a waste of resources and payroll, while understaffing leads to longer wait times for the customer and quicker employee burnout.
Tools and Equipment
Part of investing in your employees and their success means providing the necessary tools and equipment to complete the job. This might include:
- A strong internet connection
- Computers and computer monitors
- Mobile devices
- Dedicated work phones
- Required software
- Virus protection
- Workstation furnishings
If you employ remote workers, make sure they have access to similar equipment and resources.
3. Invest in Cloud-Based Solutions
Investing in cloud services and programs can be very beneficial for your organization by offering a secure place to store data and the ability to distribute your workforce. Industry insiders report that, by the end of 2020, 67 percent of enterprise infrastructure and 82 percent of overall workload will happen on the cloud.
Storage and Back-Up
Ransomware attacks, natural disasters, and equipment failure all represent threats to your saved data. By storing and backing data up on the cloud, you’ll have access to everything you need quickly, without excessive downtime.
Security and Privacy
Data breaches are expensive to recover from and run the risk of damaging your business’ reputation beyond repair. Cloud-based security will protect your organization’s and your client’s information. If you utilize a cloud service provider, they will have access to the latest security tools and software to keep your data safe, including anti-virus, firewalls, and advanced network monitoring. Many providers can also give guidance for data compliance. You can pair these resources with your own in-house security plans for optimal protection. Your level of protection and security varies, depending on the type of cloud services you use and whether you choose a private or public server. Consider working with a cloud IT specialist to create the ideal plan for your contact center.
Cloud-based tools and software let you distribute your workforce and staff remote employees. Depending on your cloud configuration, you can choose which resources to make accessible on the cloud and which ones to keep secure on private servers or on-premise hardware. More than 40 percent of the U.S. workforce currently is utilizing full-time remote employees.
Benefits of using a distributed workforce for your contact center include:
- Hiring qualified agents: Hiring remotely attracts talented employees from all over the country — or world — and you can choose the ones whose qualifications best meet your requirements, rather than those closest to the office.
- Improving job satisfaction: Many remote workers find a better balance between home and work life, resulting in long-term satisfaction with the company. Employees also appreciate the lack of daily commute and location independence that comes with a telework position. Happier employees lead to a lower turnover rate.
- Offering 24-hour support: With employees stationed across multiple time zones, it will be easier than ever for your contact center to offer around-the-clock support.
4. Leverage Customer Relationships for Cross-selling and Upselling Opportunities
Upselling is when agents encourage customers to add an accessory, upgrade a service, opt for a premium version, or supersize an order. Cross-selling is when you use the information you know about your customer to suggest another product or service that will enhance their existing purchase. While upselling and cross-selling are great sales strategies to have in your arsenal at all times, you’ll find they are most effective when you engage them with existing customers.
Current and former satisfied customers, especially those already loyal to your brand, take the challenge and pressure out of attracting new sales through entry-level products. Instead, you can use what you already know — their purchase history, values, and needs — to make personalized recommendations.
Beyond increasing your profits, upselling and cross-selling to existing customers is the best way to get insight into their habits that you can use for future decisions. You can track patterns and note changes over time and use this information to power algorithms and recommendation engines. It’s also far more cost-effective to maintain current customers than it is to market for new ones. As you build your brand loyalty through cross-selling and upselling, you’re also increasing the customer’s lifetime value.
Tips for Cross-Selling and Upselling
When trying to cross-sell or upsell a product or service to a customer, keep these tips in mind:
- Practice showing vs. telling: Instead of telling a customer how a particular service or product will change their lives, show them through free trials and demos. Use testimonials from other satisfied customers, and encourage them to read reviews of the product. Offer special discounts or gifts with purchase to add even more incentive.
- Utilize machine learning: Use machine learning and artificial intelligence to create algorithmic product recommendations for your targeted customers on your e-commerce store and across social media marketing. Use predictive analysis to curate custom pricing bundles, and use that information to create targeted advertising campaigns.
- Paint a picture of the lifestyle: Instead of telling consumers the benefits or specifications of a product or service, use language that paints a picture of the lifestyle they can have if they purchase. For example, instead of listing the various speeds and performance specifications of a vacuum, a sales agent should strive to focus on the tangible ways that vacuum could save the customer time or frustration.
- Keep it personal: Know your customer and identify their pain points to target cross-selling and upselling opportunities. Use personalized offers based on previous purchases, and use your multi-channel customer view to analyze how your existing customer base uses their current products and how those patterns have changed over time.
- Avoid aggressive sales tactics: While proactive selling is a great way to increase profits, limit your recommendations to what will truly benefit the customer. Never sacrifice quality customer relationships for an easy sale. Over time, you’ll find that personalized sales methods are better at retaining customers than aggressive or pushy tactics.
When selling to the customer, remind them why they chose to work with you in the first place. Was it because you offer the best deals in town, or was it because you provide personalized service from friendly, caring agents? Is your product more durable or sustainable than the leading competitors? Gather this feedback from reviews, feedback forms, and agent interactions to create sales guidelines and marketing materials.
5. Gather and Utilize the Data at Hand
Collect and analyze the information already available to you to minimize the cost of market research and leverage what you already know about your target customers. Identify patterns, trends, and outliers to make informed and cost-efficient decisions.
Existing data may provide insights on the following:
- Customer needs: Create case studies based on what items or services people typically purchase together. Integrate common customer feedback, including testimonials and requests.
- Customer habits: Analyze shopping behaviors, including when people shop, who bought what services, how much customers spent per interaction, and who the bulk of your loyal customers are.
- Reoccurring issues: Utilize customer and employee feedback to see which processes are working and where there is room for improvement. Quickly resolve problems that could be eating away at profit or customer and employee retention.
Use this information to create a cost-effective, targeted marketing plan. Take into account the best places to advertise, how often to implement new ad campaigns, where your target customers spend most of their time, what they value, and which shopping habits you can use to improve your cross-selling and upselling tactics. As you gather more data, you may be able to further narrow your existing market segments. The more specific and targeted your advertising campaigns and outreach programs are, the more likely you are to see a significant return on that investment.
Learn More About Our Cloud and Managed IT Services
Successful contact centers can be profitable cash cows, but they can also give you the valuable insight and connection to your customers that your business needs to thrive. The team at Consolidated Technologies, Inc. is here to help our customers succeed. We want to help you harness technology and communication to deliver quality service and see market growth across channels.