Time is money. It’s a cliché, yeah. But think about it: How much time and call center efficiency is your team losing in a day to long-winded calls? What about the endless games of phone tag, calls sent to the wrong person, or clicking around outdated or irrelevant software just to find updated customer information?
Consider how you’re using time in your call center and you’ll find that call center efficiency drives both customer retention and profitability. By giving more time back to your call center agents, you save (and make) more money.
According to a recent survey by PwC of 1,300 global CEOs, 77% say their primary focus is creating operational efficiencies and driving revenue growth. Leaders recognize that making processes run smoothly will improve their business and contribute to a better customer experience all around.
But, where does this extra time come from? What processes need to be smoothed over? With a few tricks up your sleeve and some operational changes, your call center can improve efficiency. To help, we’ve gathered a few handy tips to make sure your call center efficiency flourishes.
Call Center Efficiency Tip No. 1: Clean up your agents’ workflows.
A client calls in — they need the documentation and follow up notes from their latest appointment with you. When you go to look for it, their profile wasn’t updated. So you go to the folder that holds all customer notes. But when you open it, it’s an utter mess. Maybe you can reach out to the manager the customer had met with. How did they say to reach out? By Slack? Can you transfer the call straight to them? Or is that a big no no. Meanwhile, the customer is sitting on hold, growing annoyed.
Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common for call center agents. One of the trickiest things about being a customer service rep is finding the information you need to help your customer. According to Aberdeen, agents spend 14% of their time looking for information to help customers.
Daily, agents also face roadblocks in their work. As many as 39% say that it’s tough to collaborate, 26% say they’re dealing with outdated tech and 25% don’t have real-time access to relevant data. All of these roadblocks waste time and harm customer relationships. So what can you do?
Take time to clean up processes and workflow for your call center agents. Here are some areas to focus on:
Develop a clear organizational chart. Make it clear who is responsible for what, what resources are available to agents, and how they should be contacting outside help when it’s needed. Meet with team leads in other departments to establish what will work best across the company. Breaking down those silos between teams will also build internal support between departments.
Decide how you will prioritize support. Do you help customers on a first-come, first-serve basis? Or can you prioritize by customer issue, status or channel choice? Know how you’ll determine these things so you can organize your team around your customer needs.
Regularly clean up. Use idle time as a team to clean up files and resources or set a quarterly goal to update info. Make sure internal tools, customer profiles, and your knowledge bases are up to date.
Use self-service tools to take some of the pressure off your agents. Build an FAQ page or help guides and videos to send to customers quickly to answer their most common questions.
Call Center Efficiency Tip No. 2: Train for the team you want to be.
Let me give you a tip: call center efficiency is not only about how your agents perform. As the manager, you’re responsible for training your team to be the best they can be. During initial onboarding and whenever you have downtime as a team, prioritize training. Use any spare time to train and coach to be the team you want to be.
Here are some ways to do just that:
Run through workflows together and role-play different scenarios so you know your agents know what to do in different situations.
Create training resources — e-books, videos, and internal articles — to serve as a reference for your agents.
Set team meetings monthly or quarterly to talk through new issues or scenarios that your team is encountering. Or take that time to train on new technology or processes to make sure you’re always on the same page.
Set up 1:1 meetings as often as possible to check on individual agent performances.
Call Center Efficiency Tip No. 3: Lean on automation when you can.
Automation technology is becoming increasingly popular in call centers. Automation, when used wisely, makes tedious tasks manageable for your call center team. Free your agents from menial tasks like routing customers on call to the right person, sending self-service articles to customers, or auto-filling customer information. Bots are ideal for guiding customers to serve themselves. Then, no customer gets neglected or left waiting in the process.
When your agents aren’t bogged down with tedious duties, they have more time to focus on complicated customer interactions. A robot can’t always help customer situations when empathy and emotional intuition are needed. But they can help your team prepare for each interaction by predicting how customers will respond to an email or on a call. Automation is available for you to cut out the tedious and tricky elements of call center work, leaving space for better agent performance, efficiency, and development.
Call Center Efficiency Tip No. 4: Add texting to your omnichannel solution.
Customers want to reach your business in the way that’s most convenient for them. Your goal is to offer a customer experience that meets your customers’ needs, and a seamless omnichannel solution lets your customers choose their preferred communication channel and know there won’t be hiccups along the way. My tip for better call center efficiency? Add texting to your suite of channels.
Pew Research estimates that texting is the most widely and frequently used app on a smartphone, with 97% of Americans texting at least once a day. (But let’s be honest — most of us text way more than once a day.) For a more efficient call center, add texting to optimize your agents’ time. Texting is a fast and flexible channel for both your customers and your agents. With texting, your team can help multiple customers on text threads simultaneously instead of being trapped on the phone with just one customer at a time.
This inevitably lowers your call volume, opening up time for agents on the phone to help the more complicated customer cases via phone.
This post originally published September 20, 2018 and was updated on June 30, 2022.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane back to high school. You’re writing an essay for your English class and remember what your teacher had said about the introduction paragraph — it has to have a “hook.” Something needs to grab your reader’s attention or they won’t have a reason to keep reading.
Ok, so you’re not in high school English classes anymore (thank goodness!), but I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t abandon that advice from your teacher. When you’re communicating with any audience, you want to make an impression. Especially when you’re trying to engage your customers, your writing needs to catch their attention and hold it.
This concept is especially important when you’re writing an SMS message to send to your customers. While SMS is a great channel in terms of reaching customers with speed and flexibility, you only have a handful of words to make the message truly worthwhile. With 160 characters or so to capture your customer’s eye, you have to make deliberate choices to make the writing effective. We’ve put together a list of six helpful tips to writing a more effective SMS message to make the most of each text sent.
1. Treat your first few words like a subject line.
When a text pops up on my phone, I can’t avoid the impulse to glance down and skim the first few words of the message. In just that glance, I can sense the tone and can decide whether I want to open that text right away or if it can wait. Is a friend in need? Does my sister need me to babysit again?
When you send an SMS message to your customers, always consider what they will see as the preview in their message inbox or on their notification screen. Treat the first few words as you would an email subject line: it’s the customer’s first impression before they open the text. Intentionally use powerful words (e.g., “explore,” “start,” “level up,” etc.), short sentences, or the customer’s first name through dynamic parameters to catch attention.
Just this morning I had a promotional SMS message from a politician pop up on my Apple Watch. The copy was wordy and the text was long. I don’t have time for that! Without a thought, I opened my phone and immediately deleted it. Attention spans are short, so when you send a text to your customers, get to the point quickly to ensure you capture their attention.
In general, the shorter the text, the better. That rule is especially when you’re sending a proactive text to your customers. Keep the copy between 75-115 characters, or 3-4 lines long. Make sure your texts still look professional and are easy to understand by all age groups. Once you use big complicated words, long sentences or unnecessarily abbreviate words, you’ll lose your audience.
3. Use visuals.
If the goal is to catch the eye of your customers, add in visuals where you can. MMS messaging makes texting customers much more interesting. Add in multimedia like images, GIFs, video, and audio to make your messages pop. Images are a fun way to give your messaging personality and flair.
Create attractive graphics that catch your customers’ eyes if they’re quickly scanning a text.
Graphics can be used to communicate important information like discount codes or upcoming sales. When you add movement to an image — like as a GIF — this too will make your text stand out.
4. Express gratitude.
The customers on your opt-in list are likely to be some of your most loyal. And your loyal customers want to feel valued and cared for. So why not use every opportunity you can to express your thanks to them?
When you send a text out, make sure your customers feel appreciated. Use expressions of gratitude in your text copy to build a connection with your customer base, even when you’re just sending an appointment reminder or a discount code. Add in phrases like “you’re the best, we appreciate you, your loyalty has paid off, thanks for being our customer” to boost engagement and interest in your brand and in your SMS message.
Part of capturing your customers’ attention is to use some urgency in your writing. Powerful, emotional words and short sentences can effectively communicate when there is a time-sensitive event like a sale or low-inventory. Plus, most of your customers are going to be on the go when they receive your message. To add timely language in, use phrases like “this weekend, starting now, almost over, today only” so your customers want to open and read your text right when it shows up on their phone.
6. Assume your customer knows nothing… but also that they’re not stupid.
There’s a fine line between coming across as helpful to customers and being patronizing. The tone of a message can determine whether your customers stick around or not. Avoid over-explaining and address your customers like they’re adults…because, more than likely, they are! You don’t have to start at square one when explaining your product or a sale to your customers, but keep the language accessible.
Be mindful when writing copy for your customers to not make them do additional work just to understand what they’re reading. Write instructions and descriptions simply and logically. Then, read and re-read before sending. Send a test text out just to your team internally to make sure the message hits right. Or, test it on a safe outsider to the brand to get their first impression before you blast it to hundreds of your customers.
Texting has become the most natural form of communication for most of us. Some 5.1 billion people on Earth own a cell phone, but most of us aren’t using them to make phone calls all day. Let’s say I want to reach a group of friends to plan a girl’s trip. Or maybe I need to ask my husband to pick up dinner on his way home from work. I send a text. Why? Because texting is a reliable, convenient, and fast way to reach someone. It doesn’t disrupt life like a phone call and doesn’t require formality like an email.
Companies are starting to take note of the benefits of using business texting from a computer to reach customers. Sure, you may be feeling some hesitation — is business texting worth the cost? Is texting our customers too invasive? Do our customers actually want to text us?
We’ve gathered 12 statistics that’ll answer your questions and prove its practicality. We’ll see why it’s actually one of the bestways to reach and engage your customers.
When your customers feel appreciated, your company reaps real, measurable growth. Growth like a boost to revenue for one. The payoffs for valued, great experiences are tangible. In fact, when you provide stellar CX, customers are willing to pay 16% more on your products and services. And they will be more loyal to you.
What can customer loyalty really do for you?
Retain customers. Repeat customers typically spend more than new customers. They already trust your business and its products or services.
The strategy is simple. To retain customers, spark a relationship. And do that by building experiences that create an emotional connection with your customers. But where do you start? Create a strategy for texting online. As many as 89% of consumers say they prefer texting with businesses over any other mode of communication. So it’s time to build out a strategy to drive your customer loyalty. And make some cash along the way.
Your Step-by-Step Guide to Building Out a Strategy for Texting Online to Drive Customer Loyalty (and Revenue)
Step 1: Build Your Opt-in List
To build a relationship with your customers, you have to know who your customers are. Before you can text your customers, get permission to contact them and build an opt-in list. Opt-in lists establish a list of customers who have agreed to receive communications from you. They’ve already signaled that they want to be loyal to your brand. They make it easier for you to know your audience and target personalized content to fit their tastes.
To create your opt-in list, promote opportunities to sign up for texts in their order detail email or during the checkout process. Provide an online form for customers to sign up for emails and texts from your brand. And consider incentivizing customers to sign up with a coupon or exclusive deal. Make your texting opt-in like joining a loyalty club to engage with and create a stronger bond with your customers.
Step 2: Keep your Audience Engaged with Texting Online
After you have your opt-in list, you have to keep that audience engaged in order to retain them. Texting online gives your business a perfect channel to not only acquire customers but to retain them. Harvard Business Review knows that it is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive to get a new customer than to keep a current customer. So, what touchpoints are you using to keep your customers close?
Here are some ideas that not only engage your customers, but also increase profit:
Gift your customers right off the bat. Welcome new subscribers with a discount coupon to use in their first 30 days.
Send customers in your opt-in list triggered messages about product updates, exclusive offers, or upcoming deals. Be cautious, though, about not sending these so frequently that they get annoying.
Give customers reasons to make repeat purchases by creating a point system and rewards. Just like with a credit card program, reward the more loyal customers with a discount after reaching a set point number or give them free shipping after spending a certain amount of money.
Send relevant content that interests your customers. Use MMS messaging to send interesting videos or create a newsletter with helpful product info.
Reportedly, customers like to be part of online texting loyalty programs. As much as 90% of participants in an SMS loyalty program have gained value from being a member. With special loyalty rewards and perks for signing up for SMS, your brand can give members the VIP treatment they expect.
Step 3: Customize and Personalize your Content
Personalization increases customer engagement and revenue. According to CMSWire, Amazon gets 30% of its revenue just from personalized recommendations. Today, personalized recommendations are almost as expected from brands as toilet paper is to bathrooms.
Considering that SMS has a 98% open rate compared to email marketing, texting online gives you a direct way to deliver a personalized experience with the guarantee that your customers will see your messaging.
Send texts that are personalized and ultra-relevant to your customers. Include their name in texts to make them feel known. Keep track of important dates — like their birthday or anniversaries — to send them exclusive offers on those days. Use feedback surveys and track customer purchases to make purchase recommendations or notify customers of specific sales that would pique their interest.
When you give customers a personalized experience, you’re more likely to keep them around and continue increasing revenue.
Step 4: Close Sales and Support Customers With Two-Way Texting
To maintain a relationship with your customers, you have to talk with them. Two-way texting online gives your sales and your customer service team a way to communicate directly with customers in a channel that’s more convenient and flexible than others.
Customer service agents and salespeople spend a lot of time on the phone. Texting online gives your teams a flexible and convenient way to cut back on wasted time (without leaving their CCaaS platform). To help your sales team qualify sales, send a text to the potential customer first. Include information that will help them decide if they are a good candidate for your services or not. If you use two-way business texting online, you can let your customers make certain selections to get more information.
Provide proactive customer service by sending messages to teach customers how to use the product well. Give customers an easier way to reach you through two-way texting. This way, they can ask a simple question or request information without increasing your call volume. And they won’t spend unnecessary time on hold.
And if that isn’t enough, here’s an added bonus. McKinsey found that companies that elevate their customer service see employee engagement rocket up the charts by 20% on average. Now, literally, everyone is happy. With these added strategies, you’re building a team of engaged employees and customers, while driving revenue along the way.
This post was originally published on November 8, 2018 and was updated on June 16, 2022.
Every customer support team has its goals: speed up response times, make it easy for customers to reach you, create a customer-centric culture. Recently for many brands, they’re working to reach these goals by adding SMS messaging to their omnichannel experience. Why? Because our culture is all about texting. With nearly 8.5 billion text messages sent in the US every day, customers find SMS messaging faster and more flexible than other forms of customer support.
But how do we know if texting really adds value?
Let me give an illustration: My husband and I live in an old house. It’s got a lot of quirks — squeaky floors, old plumbing, doors that don’t seem to fit quite right. We can live with a lot of it, but we also want to improve the value of our home. With every update we make, we want to make sure that the money we’re putting in gives us value and to the house as a financial investment. We know we can’t put bandaids on big house issues — like a leaky faucet — and expect much of an investment return. The same goes for your business.
When your team invests in a piece of new tech, it can feel like a risk. You have problems to address in your company, and you want to really know that your investment is paying off and actually healing those problems. The only way to do so is with tracking effective metrics. How do you know that SMS messaging is adding value to your brand?
To help, we’ve gathered 5 metrics that are worth watching to track success in your customer service and improve your customer experience.
5 Metrics to Track the Value of SMS Messaging
1. Average Handle Times (AHT)
I’m sorry to tell ya. When your customers reach out to you, they’re not looking to strike up a long deep conversation. At least, not typically.
Customers want efficiency. They want their issue resolved or their questions answered as promptly as possible. Overall, adding SMS messaging boosts efficiency in your customer support team. To see if this is a reality, track the AHT of your customer interactions.
Average handle time refers to the time a customer spends with a customer support agent from the beginning of the interaction until its resolution. On a traditional channel, like by phone, the average handle time can be really long depending on call volume and the complexity of a customer problem. By phone, only one agent can help one customer at a time.
But when you add SMS messaging, you make it possible for agents to help multiple customers simultaneously. And, since one agent could carry on 4-5 text threads with customers at the same time, it’s possible to lower your average handle time significantly. Track AHT to see the impact.
2. Average Hold Time
I will pick any other channel of communication to reach a company before I call them. Why? Because who has time for that?! Calling a business is time consuming. And most customers really don’t want to take that time out of their day to wait on hold. When you make customers sit on hold to talk to you, it negatively affects their customer experience.
According to HubSpot, around 33% of consumers feel the most frustrated when they’re placed on hold. Another 60% say that being put on hold is the most annoying aspect of the customer service experience. You don’t want your brand to be “annoying.” So what if you give your customers another option?
With SMS messaging, customers with quick questions or issues can avoid the dreaded hold time altogether. Instead, they can shoot your customer support team a text to reach you directly. Or to help customers hop out of the call queue, deflect calls to text through your IVR menu. Fewer customers in the call queue helps to lower your average hold time, giving more time back to those customers who need the phone support and giving more immediate help to those customers with simpler questions and issues.
3. Average Speed of Answer (ASA)
Speed of service isn’t everything as it doesn’t always give room for quality. So while you don’t want speed to be the sole focus in your contact center, it is a good measurement of efficiency. The average speed of your customer service agents’ answer to a customer measures both your team’s overall performance and accessibility.
The average speed of answer industry standard is generally 28 seconds. Often, a longer ASA translates directly to worse customer satisfaction and increased agent burnout. But with SMS messaging, your team can answer questions faster.
A texting conversation allows your agents to respond to a customer and experience a bit of lag between responses. This makes it possible for customers to know they’re getting help faster, and gives agents the ability to juggle multiple customers at once. Plus, with the help of automation and bots, you can deliver an immediate response to customers with help on the way without interrupting their day, lowering your average speed of answer.
4. Issue Resolution
Last week, I had an issue with a postal delivery. In attempting to reach out to the postal service, I sat through a confusing and frustrating IVR menu that offered no option that fit my situation. It’s been 3 days since I’ve heard from the support team by email, I’ve left a couple voicemails at my nearest local post office, and still my issue is not resolved. Needless to say, I’ve had a pretty lousy customer experience.
Issue resolution is really the goal of good customer support, right? If you want to improve your CX, you need to improve your issue resolution rates. SMS messaging helps you do that.
Texting helps your team prioritize issues so you can help more customers than you would by phone. Communicate with customers before they even need to reach you about billing reminders, scheduled appointments, and more. Or, reach issue resolution faster with MMS messaging. Use different forms of media, like photos or how-to videos, to get customers help without needing to have a drawn out or convoluted phone call. Track issue resolution to ensure your customers are truly getting the help they need.
5. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
Ultimately, all these metrics are aimed towards the same goal — customer happiness. To make sure that your SMS messaging platform is adding value, track your customers’ satisfaction with your service. Research suggests that 89% of customers will make an additional purchase after a positive customer experience.
To know if your customers are satisfied with your CX, track CSAT. SMS messaging ideally lets your team offer faster, more effective, and more proactive customer service. Send out surveys and watch your CSAT score to make sure this improvement is really happening in your contact center.