Pivot Your Business Now to Survive the Inflation Wall
When we hit a wall and can’t go any further, we need to pause, assess the situation, and then adapt and figure out where we can pivot.
Businesses in every industry are now hitting the inflation wall and must deal with it. As a result, inflationary pressures are driving the need for organizations to be more efficient with their dollars.
What can businesses do to offset rising costs?
Enable customers to self-service when possible
Self-service options are less expensive than hiring more agents. Encourage your customers to use automated options such as chatbots or voice bots when possible. Automating simple requests and making information more accessible to your customers reallocates your agents’ time. These employees on the front line can focus on handling more complex issues.
But do this with care. Customers can get frustrated when navigating and transferring to an agent without a streamlined and user-friendly interface. Poorly designed automation defeats the whole purpose and leaves a wrong impression.
The good news is that this is something that can be fine-tuned and may end up correcting long-overdue unnoticed issues within your self-service applications. Make your customers want to use self-service options.
The first step is to test. Pretend you are a customer and dial into your IVR or interact with your chatbot – whatever the case. Chances are, you may not have done that in a while. (You can use our complimentary Customer Experience Checklist as a guide for what to look for and how to evaluate.)
An unexpected result is that you may be able to turn a negative into a positive – by weeding out inadequate processes and bad spending habits that were there all along but never addressed. You’ll likely uncover areas you can tweak to make your IVR easier to use, ultimately increasing your resolution rate.
Here are some examples:
- Shorten phone trees: eliminate a long list of options and activate “barge in” so callers don’t have to wait through all options before making their selection.
- Implement NLU to understand responses better. NLU is especially important if you have options that include alpha-numeric characters (things like VINs), which can be frustrating and clunky to input using a traditional IVR.
- Caller-elected callback – This is one of the most important things to do now. Callers do not want to wait on hold for long periods. Instead, give them the option and the power to be called back when they reach their place in your queue. This automation also eliminates a customer calling in several times.
Figure out the cost savings to offset inflation
Some of these things require an investment in new technologies, and it may seem counteractive to spend money when the goal is to keep costs down, but it’s essential to look at the big picture and weigh out any upfront costs with the long-term benefits and savings.
Calculate the cost savings by incorporating more automation. This calculation is different for every business, so it is vital to have a complete picture of your current situation. How many agents do you have? What are you paying each one? For example, if you can automate a transaction that you would typically have to pay 100 people $x an hour, but if 60% of those callers opt for self-service instead, what are the savings? Call containment has always been something businesses should review, but it’s more important now in our current situation.
Build (or re-build) your knowledge base
Frontline conversations are now more complex. A recent eGain survey found that 63% of agents reported that the complexity level of customer inquiries has increased compared to their past experiences. An even more concerning stat from the same survey found that 64% of these agents do not have knowledge guidance and often rely on getting answers from colleagues or Google.
Make sure you have knowledge-centric support for both the consumer and your internal resources (Policies, procedures, exceptions) that is easy to access and navigate.
Often, customers will already be on your website when initiating a call. Instead, allow them to locate the information they are seeking quickly. They may not need to call in after all.
Self-service options are great for straightforward tasks such as checking a balance, making a payment, and asking general questions. However, callers will still need to engage an agent for more complex issues. Expanding the knowledge base for your team will improve agent resolution metrics by arming your representatives with a robust library of frequently asked questions, easy step-by-step tutorials, and common responses on their end. In addition, it can help shorten resolution time and result in higher customer satisfaction scores and customer retention.
We can help
You don’t have to do this alone. Improving and streamlining your contact center is what we do. We can evaluate your current environment and tech stack and locate areas for improvement and cost savings and make recommendations. Let us be your guide.
About the Author
Experienced communications technologist and pre-sales leader, proficient in all aspects of pre-sales engagement (discovery, design, demonstration, documentation, and skillful handoff to delivery. Deep capabilities with Alvaria, Bright Pattern, Edify, Genesys Cloud, Intervoice, and Playvox. Comprehensive generalist across all facets of contact center technologies (omnichannel contact center, self-service, workforce engagement management, and supporting technologies).