From gasoline to groceries, the United States has been feeling the impact of rising costs. In the outsourcing and customer service industry, wage growth has made it next to impossible to find workers without added financial output. As a result, many companies have been searching for new initiatives to deal with their tightening budgets. With this in mind, Outsource Consultants has come up with some innovative ways for you to cut costs related to customer support.
Better Utilize Technology
We all know that technology has become an essential part of the contact center industry, but we often forget why. The biggest impact made by technology is arguably the ability to reduce the amount of time an agent spends on the line. Whenever an employee handles an issue that could have been resolved easily with technology, money is being lost. This means having an understanding of what each innovation does is more important than ever. While many companies employ multiple ways to cut down call volume and increase self-service options, the three key types are: AI, automation, and access to account information.
AI is a tool used to learn from customer interactions and apply the data to improve user experience. One specific example would be chatbots, which analyze customer queries and responses to better serve the next person in line. Using AI as a supporting element in your call center better utilizes agents to handle the more complex transactions and cuts down on incoming calls. Interestingly, even customers understand AI’s importance, with 60 percent saying they are open to it being used in customer engagement because it can resolve issues promptly.
Automation is likely the most popular technology employed by call centers. Champion among automation — Interactive Voice Response or IVR. This system allows companies to interact with customers prior to getting a live agent on the phone. Doing this gives them the opportunity to route customers to the correct department without the hassle of speaking to multiple employees. Additionally, once a customer is on the line the agent will have nearly all of the information they need to resolve the issue. Even if your company is currently using IVR technology, it may be time to review your systems for innovation opportunities.
Last but certainly not least is access to account information. For retail companies that sell consumer goods and ship them, many inquiries they receive will be regarding the item the customer ordered. These calls range from whether the item has been packaged, delivered, or even what they purchased in the first place. Additionally, service and utility companies may benefit from account information pages for bill payment, service outages, or employee arrival times. A system to quickly give updates in one central place will not only lower call volume, but it will give your customer a feeling of control over their own experience.
Find a Partner With Multiple Locations
A knee-jerk reaction to rising call center costs is often to find a new partner. Although the price may seem lower, severing the bond you have formed with a BPO partner may hurt you in the long run. Even if you find a partner who meets your immediate needs, they may not be what you need in the future, thus starting the cycle all over again. So, what if your existing partner had the ability to handle your changing needs, no matter what they were?
Selecting a partner with multiple locations means that you may only need to search for contact center options once. By having the choice regarding market type, agent numbers, and region all in one place, you minimize the reasons to ever have to scout again. Not only does this mean less potential hassle for you, but it enables a longer, more solidified relationship with your BPO provider.
Building a relationship with a partner can take time, which is why it is better to invest in someone who can adapt to a changing environment now.
Plan For Expected and Unexpected Inquiries
Whether it’s the launch of a new product or a website crashing, you generally know when an increase in call volume is about to happen. Sometimes situations arise with short notice that can affect the number of inquiries received. How you handle each scenario — expected or unexpected — is key to how much a situation will cost your company.
In the event of an expected increase in calls, working with your team and BPO partner is vital. Having an open dialogue about what to expect and what will be needed could help you avoid a disaster. For instance, if you are preparing to increase prices for a particular product or service, you may want to use multiple tools to inform customers. This could be a landing page and banner on your website, social media posts, or equipping your chatbot to answer new queries. The more information you give to your customers, the less likely they will be to call you confused or frustrated and the fewer agents you will need.
Events can be planned for even when they are unexpected. Create an action plan for addressing a variety of situations that could lead to increased customer inquiry volume, as well as how your team will handle them. You may not know when or if your website will go down, for example, but knowing that it’s a possibility and putting a plan in place will lead to your success.
In both situations, using the knowledge that more and more consumers are looking to the internet for information can help you better reach them. In fact, 88 percent of customers expect companies to accelerate their digital initiatives as a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following several years of engaging online rather than in-person, customers expect the same information on the internet that they would have at a brick-and-mortar store. Making sure you keep them updated on anything that may impact their experience through these mediums is pivotal.
Start Looking Towards Gig Workers
The gig economy has been a hot topic for the last decade as services such as ride-sharing and grocery delivery find a permanent place in consumers’ lives. Contrary to popular belief, gig work isn’t only being used by the delivery service industry. The number of people participating has increased by nearly 3 million since 2010, and many industries are beginning to take part in the initiative, including call centers.
Rather than paying for agents that you may only need during a seasonal influx of calls, gig workers offer flexibility that the contact center industry hasn’t seen before. Many companies know when to expect higher than average call volume, such as peak retail times. Rather than staffing enough agents year-round to cover these times or scrambling to hire in advance of an impending spike, they have begun to pad their roster with independent employees. Gig work makes finding competent agents easier, as well as transitioning to a smaller team after the season ends.
Get Help Finding Solutions
Finding the right partner with the best locations, gig workers and technology should be at the forefront of your mind in this new year. Don’t make it more complicated than it already is. Our team of outsourcing experts understands not only how to save you money, but also how to improve customer service. By applying our years of experience, we can develop a strategy that meets your unique needs.
Start the conversation by requesting your no-obligation call center cost proposal to help navigate the world of outsourcing options.
If you are a BPO Partner with Outsource Consultants looking for assistance with technology, gig work, or any other questions, contact us at [email protected]!