More and more leaders are seeing risks of a potential recession, and this trend could be elevated by increased FED rates, a possible new cold war, and don’t forget, Covid-19 continues to spread worldwide. With all these problems the world faces today, businesses are preparing plans for a recession regime.
Although cutting costs in a call center might be tempting, it might not be the best idea. The 2008 financial crisis shows that a robust customer experience strategy is one of the most successful ways to survive an economic downturn.
1. Quality … but Capacity
The dream scenario for every business is that your product is so perfect that no support is needed. That’s not the case in reality, and the first painful question is Capacity planning for the contact center to smooth out the customer experience. The second pain point is Quality of service, directly linked to agent training, onboarding, and agent retention.
2. Maintain Loyalty through Quality
In most cases, Contact Center is the last resort for customer retention. Don’t make your next quarter more complex by losing customers. Focus on retention.
3. Make your CSAT and NPS KPIs as north start without any compromises
“After more than one bad experience, around 80% of consumers say they would instead do business with a competitor“ (Zendesk). During pandemics, customers tend to spend less but obtain the same quality of products and services as during economic peaks. Hence competition for the paying customers will be even tighter, and it will be much more expensive to find a new customer than retain your existing customer. At the same time, good Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) to Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) is just 3:1.
4. Customers Are Willing to Pay More for a Great Customer Experience, even during downtime.
Spend Wisely It is time to decide what tools you use only as “nice to have” and which are “must-haves.” Also, consider how easily tools are built into your ecosystem or super-tool. You do not want to spend time coaching agents to use 30-40 tools during an economic downturn. Next year's budget will be tighter. Hence, focus your resources on a robust customer experience strategy and short-term innovation returns.
5. Find inefficiencies in the customer journey.
Identify the moments of friction in the customer journey, and understand what can be done to remove them. Channels, processes, technologies. “Easy to say, hard to do.” But this is the most crucial point.
- Prioritize your customer interactions by current CSAT to find out opportunities and challenges;
- Get detailed information on cost per interaction (segmented by channels, day/time, products, agent, CSAT, etc.)
Spend a lot with low CSAT? Too many calls less than 60 seconds? Poor First Call Resolution? Spending money on a low-volume interaction channel? Investing too much on already highest CSAT interactions?
Tools with Call Center Speech Analytics capabilities will help you have all this information and insights on your screen in real-time.
According to McKinsey, Innovation in a crisis is more critical than ever. It helps to:
- make crisis operations more efficient
- outperform competitors during recovery
It is also more practical to innovate during downtime than in any other period (ROE on innovations) as businesses focus on short-term results and lower prices, and you don’t have a spare budget to waste on insignificant innovation.
7. Leverage automation
Agents are the highest cost to call center operations. You can’t afford to leverage agents’ power for simple and CSAT risk-free interactions. That is where your best friends are bots (chatbots, voice assistants).
Use speech and chat analytics to identify frictions in customer self-service operations and improve them daily.
Be careful with overusing automation (as your primary focus should be CSAT and customer retention). Use it wisely, and regularly examine best practices and other companies’ failure cases.
8. Level up agents
“The future of automation is the cyborg worker, a human/machine collaboration where the human is augmented by robots” (Gartner).
You need your agents to be all like your dream top performer agent. You can achieve it through quality onboarding, training, feedback, coaching, and agent retention.
Leverage new era AI/ML QA and agent self-coaching tools to automate quality reviews and feedback on 100% of calls and self-coaching opportunities on your call center real examples rather than purchasing “one size fits all” courses for your agents. Provide full transparency on the process to eliminate agents’ frustration with the poor quality review process and unfair punishment.
What should a good result of passing through a crisis look like? Retain customers, eliminate inefficiency, leverage automation and short-mid term ROI AI/ML products that can easily integrate into your tools ecosystem, and prepare to outperform your competitors during recovery.