In the rise of social media, modern customers have become prosumers who don’t simply consume the products they buy but who have become well-informed voices of the brands. It has a tremendous impact not only on marketing and sales but also on customer support, which is often considered a branch of marketing. Thus, it’s more challenging than ever to provide a stellar customer support as clients want their issues to be solved immediately, hassle-free, and using a channel that is most convenient for them at the moment - over the phone, instant messenger, social media, mobile app, just to name a few. Companies that don’t address these needs are losing clients and money. It’s said that poor customer service is costing businesses more than $75 billion per year.
In this article, we’ll guide your through setting up a modern call center that incorporates the state-of-the-art technology. You’ll learn about:
- ticketing systems,
- an omnichannel approach to customer experience,
- features of modern call centers, such as IVR,
- how to merge different technologies in one integrated system.
Call center jobs have been victims of at least a few myths. For example, it’s said that being a contact center rep or agent is a mundane job, full of repetitive tasks that don’t require creativity or management skills. The reality, however, is far from this myth. In many contact centers, the daily job is unpredictable - every call means a different person to deal with, a different problem to solve, a different story behind it. While picking up the phone, an agent never knows how complex is the problem he or she will soon be dealing with. Some issues are simple, and it doesn’t take much of an agent’s time to solve them. However, in some cases, it may take hours or even days, and there may be a need for engaging more people to identify and address such a complex problem. Luckily, agents are not alone, and there is a technology that comes to the rescue and prioritizes their daily workflow - it’s called a ticketing system.
Ticketing system - smooth customer service and full transparency
Ticketing systems have been well-known in customer service, and for a long time, they help reps to solve complex issues. A ticket is basically a synonym to an issue, query, problem or complaint which is submitted to the customer, IT, or other type of support. Here is the typical flow:
1. When a client contacts customer service for the first time, a rep creates a ticket - a document with the record of all the interactions, including a full communication log between the customer and the support agent/team.
2. Such a ticket is shared with a client to provide full transparency for both parties. It doesn’t matter whether an issue can be solved immediately or requires more time and resources - all the logs are saved.
3. The ticket is a continuously open channel between the customer and the support service. The client can use it to ask additional questions anytime, the rep - to inform about the updates or to demand additional information.
4. When the issue is solved, the task is closed, but not deleted - it can be reopened when it’s necessary, or it can serve as a reference for other cases. Otherwise, explaining everything again in detail, with a new agent, would be extremely frustrating for a client and would mean a massive waste of time, money, and resources for a call center.
“89% of customers get frustrated having to repeat their issues to multiple representatives”
- according to Accenture.
As you can see on the image presenting the ticketing system provided by LiveAgent, one of the most significant advantages of a ticketing system is that all the information can be found in one place, in one communication channel. Even if the issue is handled by a few different agents or reopened after a long time, neither the contact center nor the customer is lost. When the customer service is smooth, clients may not even notice that a new person is solving their problems. The tickets are also labeled differently depending on urgency, complexity, and other factors that may vary depending on the specific contact center. To give you a big picture, we’ve also gathered the most common features of the popular ticketing systems:
- Ticket automation. It’s hard to imagine a ticketing system without this feature. Automations are the fundament that can perform many tasks without engaging the reps and thus, letting them focus on providing customer support.
- SLA (Service Level Agreement) describes how the work of the support must be prioritized, including describing the factors that influence first level problem determination, for example a security threat, deadlines, the number of customers affected, estimated solution time, etc.
- A comprehensive notification alerts system. In customer support, it’s crucial to stay informed - both on clients’ and representatives’ sites. That’s why an efficient notifications system that work across different channels (usually with a focus on email) is a must have.
- Ticket tags. Clear tags and labels make reps’ lives easier by helping to find the most common issues and/or connect them to the relevant knowledge base documents.
- Customizable templates. Issues to solve can be very different and it may happen that they don’t fit the most common templates and workflows. In such a case, a good ticketing system should be as customizable as possible. For the same reason, there should also be a customizable and personalized ticket submission form.
Omnichannel approach for the win
Although ticketing systems are simple to manage and efficient, there is often a powerful technology behind them. People contact customer services for various reasons using various channels, both online and offline - a chat, phone call, email, contact form, visit in a shop, messages via social media and instant messengers; to name the most common. Some customer service managers tend to treat these channels separately which is a problem because it’s not how customers see them - they expect one integrated contact center, no matter how which channels they use at the moment. In fact, the results from survey conducted by Aspect Software shows that companies that introduced unified strategies across different channels achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates than those who don’t. It shouldn’t be surprising as almost every American (98% of them, according to Google’s research) switch between devices in the same day. This unified system that is a game-changer for a growing number of customers has a name - omnichannel.
In short, omnichannel is an approach that provides customers fully integrated customer experience.
For example, when client visits a store, a salesperson can preview his or her previous purchases and interests in the system (CRM) and propose a personalized offer or activate a push notification with the offer. Omnichannel also means the same shopping experience across different devices, also mobile. Nowadays, it’s a necessity rather than a novelty, however it’s not a piece of cake. In fact, providing stellar customer experience across every channel can be a real challenge. Each one of them is different and may require different types of support. For example, providing support using the website, social media, live chat, email, or phone can be significantly different from a company’s and its customer service’s perspective. On the other hand, when done properly, can be a game-changer in customer happiness as the customers don’t see it that way - they expect smooth services no matter the channel.
The difference between omnichannel and multichannel
Omnichannel is often confused with multichannel, which means that a brand is present in different channels, such as
- brick-and-mortar shops,
- online shops
- outdoor ads,
- social media,
- comparison websites,
- and many many more channels.
It’s important to stress that in multichannel, each one of them is managed separately. In the omnichannel model, on the other hand, all these channels are integrated and all the information smoothly flows between them. In other words, omnichannel customer experience is integrated customer experience. Although the term omnichannel is more commonly used in marketing, where different communications channels need to be merged to improve sales and customer happiness, customer service can also (and should!) be organized in the omnichannel model. Let us take a look at how to do it in practice, focusing on merging a call center with ticketing software.
Using Cloud Telephony for Ticketing Software
What makes managing an omnichannel experience more straightforward is the growing popularity of cloud-based tools and solutions. The reason behind it is simple - they’re easy to set up and integrate with other tools and solutions, especially if they’re cloud-based too. In contrast to the on-premise software, the cloud is flexible and helps to reduce costs. Take a call center as an example - by using a cloud-based provider like CloudTalk, it’s possible to set up a fully functional call center software in a few minutes. There is no need to invest in the infrastructure and IT officers to manage it, and security has been taken care of as well. However, why using a call center at all, in the rising popularity of AI-powered chatbots and instant messengers?
Making a phone call to talk to a real person is still the most common and demanded method of solving a problem, used by 59% of customers.
Call centers won’t disappear, but they have already been transforming to be not the only one way of dealing with issues but more to serve as a hub which is integrated with other solutions, such as ticketing systems.
Just like ticketing software, the cloud telephony also aims for providing stellar customer experience by automating the workflow. One of the fundamental features of modern call centers is IVR - an Interactive Voice Response system, which is the first point of contact between a client and a call center.
How does it work?
- IVR automates the initial interaction with a call center.
- Clients are asked to press the button.
- Clients are automatically redirected to the agents which are specialized in solving similar issues.
IVR is commonly used in handling inbound calls. It can be one level on multi-level, allowing for creating several branches into the menu and dealing with more complex issues even more effectively. I can also be used to provide information without engaging the agent at all - when the system recognizes simple questions, very easy to solve, it can provide it automatically, based on the data gathered in the system (for example company’s business hours, address, account balance, etc. Thanks to that, call center reps can only deal with more complicated issues.
“Customer experience is the new battlefront marketing”
- said Chris Pemberton, a Content Marketing Advisor at Gartner.
The power of data is another advantage of integrated customer service. Clients who are immediately recognized and welcomed are more satisfied with the customer support - since the beginning of the conversation, they know that an agent is aware of the issue and has all the essential data in front of him or her, saved and ready to be reviewed in the ticketing system. Moreover, if there is a complex issue and a customer needs to call a few times, the ticketing software can route a call to the agent who has already dealt with it and whom a customer would most likely discuss the progress.
Integrating a call center with ticketing software can also help to deal with outbound calls. If the system is recognizing a new number, a new ticket is created automatically. Every request is also saved in the system, and a sales rep doesn’t have to introduce the data manually. It salves lots of time.
Key takeaways for the stellar customer service
1. The omnichannel customer experience, where call centers are integrated with ticketing software, serves both the customers and the companies and their customer service representatives.
2. Customers receive the support they need faster and better.
3. Customer service is efficient, and agents don’t waste time on manual dialing and obtaining the same information over and over again if the issue is complicated.
4. In the ideal world, there would be no customer service as every purchase, and every interaction with the product is perfect. Until it’s possible, we all need contact centers to assist us with any problems that may happen, and luckily, the state-of-the-art technology allows for making it smooth and frustration-free.
There is no doubt that now you know you’re fully aware of the advantages of using state-of-the-art technology to provide integrated, personalized, and smooth customer experience. All you need to do now is to start using the tools that make it possible: CloudTalk - a cloud-based call center and LiveAgent - a help desk software. Now imagine what could happen if you use them both as the one integrated tool! Stellar customer experience at your fingertips.