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 What about the endless games of phone tag, calls sent to the wrong person, or clicking around outdated or irrelevant software just to find updated customer information?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 As many as 39% say that it’s tough to collaborate, 26% say they’re dealing with outdated tech and 25% don’t have real-time access to relevant data.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.
In the U.S., companies lose over $62 billion a year for poor customer service. And customers today have increasingly high expectations for good service. In fact, teams surveyed by Hubspot agree that customers today are smarter and have higher expectations from customer service than they did even a year ago.
So what do modern customers want?
75% of customers expect service to be faster and more relevant. (Salesforce)
Response time is of the essence. Customers expect low wait times and quick service. (Intercom)
A personalized customer experience is now a must have. (Forbes)
74% of customers want to be able to use multiple channels to start and complete a transaction. (LXA)
Bottom line: Customers care about convenience and speed. Does your call center meet these expectations?
Just imagine: how much more profitable could your call center be if you used every minute of your day well? Where is there still room to increase customer satisfaction? If you saved just one hour a day – how would that impact your bottom line? Every day, call centers sacrifice valuable time to inefficient systems and dated processes. And when your service is inefficient, customers won’t question moving to your competitors.
Don’t lose customers in 2022. Instead, build a loyal customer base with these three call center efficiency tips.
Call Center Efficiency Tips
Tip #1: Don’t Waste Downtime
Call centers can get crazy busy. But, that busyness ebbs and flows. There are going to be those days where there’s just not much going on. What you do with your team during those slow days could make all the difference in your call center efficiency. In fact, wasted downtime in call centers equates to an approximate loss of $11,252 per agent per year in unnecessary operational expenses. Gah!
Let’s just say your team has read and responded to every email and your phone queue is short. Instead of allowing your employees to online shop for a half hour, use the downtime to deliver that personalized experience your customers want. Have agents send out proactive customer service messages to check on customers who have made a recent purchase. Or have agents draft handwritten thank you notes to your most loyal customers to make them feel special.
Maybe use the time to catch up on some 1:1 coaching time with your employees. Have training sessions ready to go so you can pull them out when the day is slow. Set up some time for agents to role play different customer scenarios to keep them on the top of their game. Keep an archive of recorded customer interactions from different channels and start group discussions about what went well or didn’t go well. With these tips, make good use of the spare time in your day and give your call center efficiency a boost.
Tip #2: Automate Tasks to Preserve your Agents’ Time
One of the most valuable call center efficiency tips is to automate wherever you can to lighten your agents’ work load and save tons of time. With modern automation, you can now locate and retrieve relevant customer information while your agents are interacting with a customer. This helps make your customer experience extremely personal.
Bots can help your agents determine a customer’s intent, identify up-selling and cross-selling opportunities, and help with monotonous tasks. With your AI handling the more tedious tasks in your call center, you also lower employee burnout as it frees up your agents to handle more complicated tasks more efficiently.
Integrate automation with your omnichannel communication so your AI can do the work of responding to customers with helpful tips and self-service tools. Set up automated messages via SMS or email to send promotions to customers or scheduling reminders, maintaining a consistent customer relationship.
Tip #3: Add Texting to your Omnichannel Communication to Retain Customers
As mentioned earlier, customers today want to know they can reach you through multiple channels. In addition to keeping customers happy, an omnichannel communication solution also maximizes your call center agents’ time.
But want to make your operations even more efficient? Add texting to existing channels like phone, email and chat. With texting, agents can easily manage multiple conversations at once, decreasing hold time and increasing customer satisfaction. Texting frees up your agents’ time from taking phone call after phone call with your customers. And it saves your customers time, giving them an option to get questions answered fast without waiting on hold or sitting through your IVR system.
Texts have open rates of around 98% while calls and voicemails often go unanswered. All the time you spend leaving voicemails for customers can be more efficient by sending out an automated or copied text message. Texting is personal, flexible, and incredibly fast. And it’s one of the more reliable ways to reach your customers.
Not convinced by the Call Center Efficiency Tips? Here’s what customers think:
Customers want to be able to text you. And you are more likely to reach them if you send them a text rather than an email. It impacts your wallet as well. It’s much cheaper to handle customers by text than over the phone. A Forrester study found that the average customer service phone call costs about $16, whereas the average text thread costs between $1 to $5 per interaction. With these call center efficiency tips, deliver a better customer experience, meet customer expectations, and save money.
Want to build efficiency and ease into your customer experience? Add business texting to boost your call center efficiency.
This post originally published on December 27, 2018 and was refreshed and republished on April 21, 2022.
Considering the different channels available to customers, phone and email are…well, not so popular. In recent years, live chat has become the leading digital communication method for customers, with 42% of customers preferring live chat compared to just 23% preferring email. And, chat has the highest satisfaction levels for any customer service channel, at 73%, compared with 61% for email and 44% for phone.
But, what about texting? Being so similar, texting and chat can get mixed up. Is there really any difference? Do you really need texting if you already have chat functionality? Don’t they meet the same expectations for customers? Not quite.
To save you time, we’ve made up a comparison of the two to see how they are similar and how they differ. Then, your team can assess where to invest to meet your customer’s preferences.
Chat vs Text: Similarities and Differences
Chat vs Text: let’s cover some of the ways chat and text are similar:
Both channels offer asynchronous communication styles (sort of…I’ll touch on this more later):
With both chat and texting, your customers are able to take natural pauses in the conversation. They aren’t obligated to sit on hold for who knows how long, and then obligated to sit through a phone conversation. With chat and texting, customers have more flexibility to multitask — and so do your agents!
Both channels let agents manage multiple conversations at the same time:
Like I said, multitasking! With both channels, agents can talk with a handful of customers, making for a more productive contact center.
Both channels invite a more casual tone of conversation:
Unlike email, chat and texting cut through the traditional formalities of customer service interactions. Short snippy messages and fewer salutations and signatures make for an all around more relaxed conversation between brands and their customers.
Both channels allow for a quick and efficient interaction:
Think about it — both chat and texting offer customers a way to ask a brief question or get a quick update on an order status. No need to wait on the phone holding line or wait for a solid 24 hours while their email sits unread in someone’s inbox.
Both channels create a clear written record of the customer interaction for internal use:
Even more organized than an email thread, both chat and text provide your team with a clear record of how the customer interacted with your agents, what questions they asked, where communication struggled. All in text form!
Chat vs Text: how are chat and text distinctly different:
Chat and text aren’t really both asynchronous:
This one falls into both camps. Live chat and text both offer asynchronous communication when compared to a phone call… until the chat session times out. Chat, more so than texting, requires much more real-time participation.
Both the agent and the customer have to maintain the conversation in a given window of time and then the timer starts counting down. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started a chat conversation and as I’m waiting for the agent to answer my question, the chat ends.
Text, on the other hand, is truly asynchronous. It lets the customer flexibly participate — initiating and re-initiating a conversation without losing their place. Sessions live indefinitely, always able to restart.
Chat is bound to a place, texting is much more mobile:
With texting, customers aren’t tied to a computer screen the way they are with chat. Instead, customers can respond straight from their mobile device wherever they are. Whether out grabbing groceries, hitting the gym, or sitting in the school pick up line, customers can send a question at any point, anywhere.
Chat is more formal, texting is much more personal:
I’m not sure about you, but I don’t text many (if any) people I haven’t met personally. Texting is a much more personal form of communication than live chat. Partially, this is because chat is typically done through a company’s website. With chat, there’s always this question in the back of my mind — am I talking to a real person or just a robot? But, when you text a brand directly, agents can add personal flavor to a conversation.
Chat requires customers to repeat themselves more, texting provides a clearer communication trail:
It happens — sometimes you think you’ve asked your last question to the customer service team…but then, oops, another one comes up. When a few hours go by and the conversation between agent and customer has dwindled, your customer may have another question for you.
With chat, the customer would have to re-open a chat, restate their information, repeat the same context as before and then get to ask their question. How annoying! With texting, your customers and the agents can easily stay in the same thread, letting customers and agents alike to see past conversation, gather context, and move onto the new problem with ease.
With all of these similarities and differences, how can you know when chat vs text fits your customer’s preferences?
This or That: How to Know if Chat vs Text Fits Your Needs
So, chat and text have some similarities and differences — so what? Which channel do your customers prefer?
Both channels benefit your contact center. Chat provides your customers a way to immediately reach you through your website. When they seek support, a chat box is ready and waiting for quick help. Because it’s embedded into your website, this lets agents direct customers to pages, help articles, and other resources directly on your site. Chat gives your team a manageable way to juggle multiple customer interactions simultaneously and keep good records about those customers.
Although text messaging isn’t embedded into your company website, texting lets your team easily send media — like images, links, how-to videos, pdfs — to customers. Customers can also easily snap a photo or take a screenshot of a product issue and send that over text. Agents can even add emojis to messages to boost engagement. The experience overall is comfortable and personalized.
When it comes to chat vs text — I think we know which one is more preferable. Allowing customers to carry their customer service help in their back pocket with them wherever they go ultimately offers customers a better customer experience.
Textel will amaze you on how texting can change the way contact centers reach customers. In this quick guide, we’ll break down six ways Textel does this and how Five9 users can take full advantage of their platform with Textel implementation.
Integrated User Interface with Five9
Providing extended functionality to a contact center platform can be helpful. However, it can also have drawbacks. Some solutions require a new interface, require training, and change how an agent does their job. Textel made sure that this would not be the case. The Textel texting solution integrates within the native Five9 contact center interface. Users access all Textel functionality within the Five9 framework. This integration ensures there are no new screens to manage, no training required, and all functionality looks and feels like all the Five9 solutions.
The days of using interactive voice response (a.k.a. IVR) are long over. Now, consumers prefer a friendlier and more straightforward way to connect with their customers. Five9 offers a feature-rich communications platform, but Textel gives Five9 customers an edge by providing a more extensive customer experience. By making it possible to send multimedia such as documents, photos, screenshots, GIFs, and videos via MMS to and from your contact centers, customers can get the most out of their support. Just as well, it becomes much easier for your agents to diagnose problems with tangible evidence and clarity.
Today, the native Five9 solution is limited to supporting SMS only, neglecting the advantages of MMS technology. By utilizing MMS, Five9 customers get more from their platform without confusion when implementing another solution.
A Mass Texting Solution
Textel adds the capability for customers to text blast your entire customer base through Five9. Suppose you need to send out branded messaging and automate the opt-out options available to your customers and employees or other groups of people. In that case, Textel Blast can make the process of doing so much more intuitive and straightforward. Textel Blast allows you to schedule your blasts, change messages for different groups, and personalize the messages to individuals.
Showcasing the Names of Agents Involved
Your agents are the most crucial part of your customer support. However, in the current Five9 texting solution, companies are limited in how they address their customers. When you upgrade to Textel, your customers will know when a new agent joins the conversation. Transparency and clarity give your agents an advantage in working with their customers. Showcasing the agent’s name also creates a more personal and natural environment for conversation to take place.
Short Code Support
Textel provides multiple options for you to operate your texting needs. With support for shortcodes, long codes, and toll-free numbers, Textel provides flexibility in your marketing to make it fast and easy to reach your customers in the simplest of ways. You can even keep the phone numbers you currently have or start fresh. Textel offers the most flexibility for what you need to best market your business and communicate.
Call and Text From the Same Number
With Textel, you can offer your customers the convenient option of calling and texting from the same number. Separate numbers for phone and text make it more difficult for the end customers to locate the correct number when reaching out. With a single number for both channels, Textel simplifies the texting experience for all Five9 customers.
Textel is adding texting access across the globe to sixty different countries by the end of the year. This international support is a big deal for businesses that operate online or on a global level. The world is smaller today than ever before, and your phone number doesn’t necessarily match your location. Textel gives you the freedom to reach whoever and whenever without barriers.
Companies, plagued with unanswered outbound calls, have quickly figured out that phone calls are, well, intrusive. But, they’re realizing online texting is both welcomed and informative.
Imagine this: you have customers in your auto shop who’ve taken time to drive to talk face to face with you about an issue with their car. As you’re talking through the complexities of their engine, the phone is incessantly ringing in the background. Call after call is interrupting your conversation. You know that each missed phone call is potentially a bad online review. And, more than likely, it’s just a customer calling for an ETA on their repair.
But, with online texting, service departments can shave off over 40 hours of work every month, cut back on interruptions, and build customer trust.
Building Customer Trust with Online Texting
The auto service industry measures success by the level of customer trust. What do you do if, as you’re inspecting cars coming in, you discover more issues? Giving your employees’ the ability to effectively communicate these issues is key to profit.
Don’t feel discouraged. Customer service-oriented businesses, like auto service providers, can increase sales and improve customer satisfaction by adding online texting. When you integrate online texting solutions with your existing business number, your text-enabled teams have direct access to your customers. Think about how much easier it is to keep customers up to date if your employees can text pictures or questions to customers.
The reality is that phone calls and email are slow and inconvenient. Customers and businesses are more inclined to dodge phone calls. Why?
You’re busy when the call comes in and can’t answer immediately
You and your customers just don’t have time for the small talk that precedes the issue
Let’s be real, for everyone involved, phone calls can be annoying — especially if it’s just a call about something simple. I can personally say I’ve let many phone calls go to voicemail to avoid the awkwardness. But, what does online texting offer?
On average, Big O Tires services around 1,064 cars per month. They determined that 40% of those customers weren’t present during repairs, forcing their service department to contact them twice on average. That’s two phone calls for every customer just to get approvals on next steps or provide updates. And just think about how many of those went to voicemail and wasted more time for their employees.
Big O Tires compared sending a text vs. making a call when contacting these 435 absent customers. Here’s what they found:
The average customer responds to a voicemail in 37.5 minutes
The average customer responds to a text message in 14.35 minutes
Average time spent calling a customer: 3 minutes
Average time spent sending a text message: 1 minute
In addition to those findings, after reviewing each tire center’s Textel usage reports, we found these gained efficiencies with online texting:
Textel saves 26.82 hours a month on average in gaining customer approvals
Textel saves 13.3 hours a month on average in sending repair updates
The bottom line? Online texting saved Big O Tires 40.12 hours a month and they were praised for a “quicker response and easier selling” in their outreach to customers.
Putting Customer Service in the Fast Lane
Not only does online texting benefit your business by saving time and making for easier upsells, it also has a huge benefit for your customers. Here’s how:
1. Online texting keeps customers in the loop.
Customers want to be involved. Especially when businesses work closely on their property — like tech repair, building contractors, or auto service providers — customers want to see firsthand what you’re doing.
With online texting, you can keep customers informed on the issues and send real-time updates on progress made. And, if you use a business texting platform, you have a historical record of past customer interactions. So, your service team will always be able to refer to the account and conversation history for customer context.
2. Send appointment reminders with online texting.
Configure auto-triggered texts in advance to remind customers of upcoming appointments or schedule changes. Then, customers don’t have to remember when it’s time for their appointment, like their next oil change. With that, you can avoid costly no-shows by allowing customers to reschedule via text. Your service can stay busy and fast for customers at all times.
3. Promote new deals and offers with online texting.
Dealerships can use keywords and send mass blast texts to generate new sales and promote new offerings. SMS messaging lets your team reach way more potential customers than phone calls ever could.
Speed of service is closely tied to customer satisfaction. Customers want a resolution to their issue or an answer to their question right here, right now! And, there’s a clear correlation between customer satisfaction — for virtually any type of customer service — and First Call Resolution (or FCR). Your customers want to know that they can reach you and reach issue resolution quickly.
Contact centers strive for high FCR rates so they can prove to customers they’re able to prioritize and handle their problem fast. Oftentimes, you can improve FCR through focused coaching for agents and strong internal support. But, with some additional technology in place, you can watch your first call resolution skyrocket. Then see your customer satisfaction soar.
First: What Is FCR?
To understand how texting fits into your path to customer satisfaction, we need to define First Call Resolution. Contact centers use this metric to represent how often agents are able to resolve an issue for a customer on the first call or interaction.
According to ICMI, FCR is a metric that reflects how effective your contact center is. A strong FCR rate boasts the experience of your agents and the quality of agent training. It’s the clearest metric for measuring customer satisfaction and agent efficiency. The more issues your agents solve in the first contact, the happier your customers will be. In fact, for every 1% improvement in FCR, there is a 1% improvement in your customer satisfaction.
So, how do you measure FCR? The most accurate way to track the metric is to take the total number of calls resolved in the first attempt and divide that by the total number of first calls. This way you’re not factoring in every single call coming into your center.
When you measure issue resolution, you get a sense for how satisfied your customers are with your service. And when you boost your FCR score, your bottom line will benefit. But how do you improve your FCR easily and affordably?
Integrate business texting into your contact center to improve issue resolution and customer satisfaction.
6 Ways Texting Helps You Improve Issue Resolution
Texting provides an opportunity to solve simple issues during the first interaction without tying up your agents or your customers on a long phone call. Believe it or not — customers want to text your business. According to research, customers prefer communicating with businesses through text rather than on the phone. So how does texting boost your issue resolution? Here’s how:
Texting Helps your Prioritize Issues
With business texting, use automated responses and bots to support your agents and lower call volume. How many calls come into your call center that could be solved with a brief answer, with an article from your FAQ page, or with a stock message? With texting, your customers can request help and receive basic instructions or helpful articles, getting their answer from automated messaging or mass texts.
This way, you triage the most common issues that don’t require a live agent. Funnel the simple requests into texting threads. How does this help your FCR? Your agents are then freed up to take time with the customers who have more complicated issues. They can sit on a single phone call for some time without feeling the stress of an overwhelming call queue.
Texting Increases the Number of Issues Resolved
Many contact centers still focus on handling issues via the phone. But let’s be real — not every issue requires a drawn out phone call. Appointment booking, reminders, and other simple procedures can be done via text very easily. Be preemptive and set up scheduled texts to customers. This proactive customer service decreases the number of customers that have to reach out to you in the first place.
When you add business texting, set up automations to handle low-level issues like sending appointment reminders, scheduling details, or shipping updates and support your issue resolution rates.
Texting Boosts Collaboration and Streamlines Team Operations
With texting, your team can collaborate with ease. The flexibility of a texting conversation lets your team talk about solutions for customers together without the pressing need to answer the customer in real time as on the phone. Let’s take this scenario: your agent, Heather, is on the phone with a customer who has a complicated issue. Heather needs to speak with your finance team to approve the solution for the customer. So, she asks the customer if she can call him back. There goes your FCR.
But, imagine instead that Heather is texting with the same customer. Instead of needing to end the conversation with the customer to reach resolution, she can collaborate with your finance team as she simultaneously talks with the customer. Now, she achieves issue resolution on the initial conversation with the customer and she keeps team operations moving smoothly.
Texting Improves Frequent Caller Satisfaction
Texting solutions save customer data, so agents have the case history at their fingertips when starting an interaction with a customer. This makes frequent callers feel recognized, increasing loyalty. It also provides faster service, improving the rate of issue resolution.
Send Post-call Surveys for Better Customer Feedback
Post-call surveys can help identify the most common issues facing your customers. And, through gathering customer feedback, you can more accurately track customer satisfaction. With texting out surveys, you get access to understand your customers and gauge your agents’ performance.
Multimedia messaging (MMS) lets you send images, documents, and videos via text to aid in quick issue resolution. Your customers can send documentation, forms, take a picture of an item they want to replace, or send a video. And you can do the same!
With MMS, enhance the customer experience and reach issue resolution faster. Using audio and visuals, you improve a simple text, resulting in higher engagement and response from customers. MMS gives customers what they want—convenience—by giving them access to images and audio to complement the text. This way, you support your customers’ satisfaction and achieve FCR.
Improve your FCR with a business texting platform. Solve customer issues, address their concerns, and answer their questions quickly within a single text thread.