COVID-19 is a rather unexpected hurdle that has completely changed the fate of 2020 as well as the upcoming years. It has laid its effects on personal and professional lives everywhere. As individuals and companies stay confined to their houses and remote workspaces, customer service becomes a priority to businesses. While some may argue that the pandemic has restricted the performance of contact centres, it has also presented unique opportunities and accelerated involvement of digital resources.
However, whether good or bad, the situation has called for changes in practice. The same brick-and-mortar expectations cannot be relayed to the remote working set-up.
So, let’s look at some of the best customer services practices for contact centres to keep in mind.
Extend Omnichannel Communication
Your customers will always demand options. A single medium of communication is no longer considered acceptable. Present your consumers with options—chats, calls, social media, messaging services—to contact your organisation. This extension is not only convenient for your customers but also an efficient system for your employees. Now that most businesses provide support remotely, you could expect a barrage of calls to your contact centres. However, the existence of multiple channels will help your employees distribute conversations to various departments. Customers can rely on chatbots and self-service menus to solve simple queries. As a result, their wait time will reduce and consumer satisfaction will rise.
Social media is an excellent tool for maintaining a bond with your clients and keeping them up-to-date about your products and services. It allows your contact centres to broadcast information and communicate with a large group directly. Further, artificial intelligence can take over messaging services and online chats, thereby eliminating the need for you to involve live agents for uncomplicated matters. In this era of Internet influencers, social media presence is necessary to maintain a seamless relationship with your customers.
Moreover, omnichannel communication allows you to stay relevant in a competitive market. It builds trust through personalised contact and guarantees customer loyalty.
Mitigate Long-term Risks Considering Status quo
As abrupt as the coronavirus pandemic has been, it has immediately proved to be life-changing. Things will not go back to ‘normal’ in the foreseeable future, instead there awaits a ‘new normal’ for us. Industries need to accept this and make changes to their long-term and short-term plans.
For example, since work-from-home has become the norm, customer service employees might find the arrangement more efficient. Companies may find it easy to retain the same set-up for the rest of the year. This would greatly benefit companies as they would no longer have to invest in infrastructure and tangible assets. Instead, they could make use of cloud services—IVR, call recording, AI—to share data and enhance performance.
As for long-term changes, this pandemic must act as a wake-up call for businesses to transform digitally and focus on business continuity management. Contact centre customer service around the world is getting increasingly dependent on digital resources. This is the ideal time for smaller companies to match these standards.
Ensure proactive communication with your clients
At a time like this, it is imperative that you maintain a bond with the consumers even if they aren’t engaging with you all the time. Use your social media presence and other communication channels to update customers regarding your organisation.
Whether it is a new product, service, communication channel, or a feature of an existing product, customer service must ensure that all consumers are made aware of the same. Use these mediums to assure your clients that their health and safety is of importance to your company. Clients value businesses that do not treat them as mere profit opportunities. The more you care for your customers, the more they will be inclined to reciprocate. Customer service must not only receive and address individual queries but also proactively inform and comfort the company’s audience.
Social media presence is especially scrutinised by users. A good social media presence can gain you customer loyalty and encourage conversation about your brand. You can engage with your clients through this presence while also making use of messaging services or call reminders.
Employ AI-powered Technologies
As mentioned earlier, this is the ideal time to move towards cutting-edge technology. Companies have been progressively deploying technologies powered by artificial-intelligence for customer service over the past few years. While your employees work from home, ensure that they have all the tools they need to perform efficiently.
Contrary to popular conspiracies, AI is not a tool to eliminate human labour but, in fact, an enhancer of human effort. Your employees and business as a whole will benefit from AI technology.
Using AI for customer service will allow them to interact with chatbots that can be used to serve simple concerns. Thus, consumers can resolve their issues without having to call an agent, essentially saving the agent’s time. Eventually, traffic on calls can be reduced and customers can be attended to without any rush or delays.
Another impressive use of AI is to gather, categorise, and analyse data. Market research is vital to set future goals. AI can recognise patterns in consumer communication and give you insights on consumer behavior. Using this information, you can tailor your targets to satisfy clients.
AI-powered cloud services also allow you to add features to your customer service. For example, an IVR system can be made smart to serve your clients better. AI is capable of identifying certain keywords during speech input and can therefore help the consumer accordingly. It has many uses in an office space, and even more so in customer service. The quarantine due to COVID-19 has allowed an opportunity to shift focus from tangible hardware to intelligent software.
Monitor your Employees
This quarantine situation has left everyone a little disoriented. So, encourage your employees and be understanding during these times. A staff that is cared for is more likely to perform their best.
Additionally, you can monitor their performance using cloud-based administration panels. Keeping track of the progress will help you identify weaknesses and ensure efficiency in these trying times. Regular feedback helps keep people vigilant and motivated. Encourage regular work hours so that things are accomplished within the deadline. Also, add to your employees’ skills by providing training sessions online. Employee satisfaction will translate to better work and that, in turn, will result in consumer satisfaction.
Adapt your Communication to the Situation at Hand
With a change in world affairs, your communication must also be modified. COVID-19 has been affecting the world unlike any other event in the past few decades. The seriousness of the situation cannot be ignored while interacting with your customers.
Customer service is a direct link between a brand and its users. A customer’s experience with a contact centre will leave a lasting impression of the company. Hence, your customer service staff must be more personal and sensitive while addressing the clients. Even a simple ‘Hope you are doing well’ can win over a client.
Health is of the essence in the present-day scenario. Assure your customers that safety is a priority and that one can trust your brand to follow regulations. Communicate information that affects the individual in real-time to make a strong case for your brand and front a respectable image. It is not only strategically clever but also ethically moral.
The bottom line is that customer service has essentially come to the forefront during COVID-19. To maintain a healthy and functioning system and to make the best of this situation, certain practices must be employed. A brand has to consider both its customers as well as its employees while forming a plan of action. Simple gestures like monitoring employees and proactive communication with customers will help ease the tension and satisfy individuals, while more complex management decisions will help carve a better future for the company.
Vanita Arora is a marketing enthusiast. She is currently working with Servetel – a leading cloud telephony service provider that specializes in providing IVR Services. Researching new online marketing trends are some of the interest areas that keep her rejuvenated.