Call deflection is nothing new. You’ve probably been thinking about it… forever.
But perhaps it’s become a bigger issue recently?
Your contact center can handle more queries with fewer agents. And, you don’t need to compromise service quality.
In this post we’ll look at:
- Your three opportunities to deflect calls
- Why you should preempt calls to your contact center
- Why you should highlight your self-service options
- Why you should motivate callers to switch to self-service
Your three opportunities to deflect calls
Contact centers run into one problem when they try to deflect calls.
They leave it too late.
If you’re trying to deflect callers who are already entering your queue, you’ve missed an opportunity.
There are three times in the customer journey when you can deflect calls:
- Before the customer has an issue
- When the customer is researching their issue (or your contact details)
- When the customer is calling
Note that you can still deflect calls which are entering your queue. However, it’s your last resort.
Next, we’ll look at how you can handle each of these situations.
Why you should preempt calls to your contact center
You know why customers call your contact center. You’re rarely surprised by the reasons for their calls.
That knowledge gives you an edge; it means you can help customers before they even ask for help.
Let’s say your products require some technical setup. There’s a good chance that that will drive support calls. So why not couple each purchase with a simple SMS linking to support pages and FAQs?
Most businesses already have these kinds of online resources; too few promote them.
Another example: widespread disruption prompts a lot of customers to call about the delivery timescales for their current orders.
A link to your order tracking system, sent via email or SMS, will prevent almost all of those calls.
How to preempt calls
Clearly, a system like that has to be automated.
The first step towards automation is integration. It’s only by linking up your different call tools that you can create automation across them.
There are several ways to integrate tools. But with automation as the end-goal, the most effective way is API integration.
(APIs = universal translators for software.)
Once your systems are integrated, data in one system can automatically trigger an action in another system.
Trigger: CRM data about a customer purchase
Action: automatic SMS update
Trigger: delayed delivery
Action: automatic delivery tracking link
Integrating systems is pretty easy. Automating your contact center is easy too – if you use a No-Code platform.
What else do you need to do? Just one thing: identify the call types that you can preempt and automate.
Why you should highlight your contact center’s self-service options
What happens between a customer identifying an issue and then actually making a call?
They look up your phone number.
Or – maybe they look up your contact details and a phone number is what they find first.
Modern customers demand a self-service option. So at least some of your customers will only call when they’re not aware of the alternative.
Without awareness, your self-help options are useless; you have to make self-service as easy as making a call. (Or even easier!)
How to highlight self-service
If you know where customers find your phone number – you also know where to advertise alternatives.
Your website is the easiest location to control. Most businesses already use chatbots to complement their call center service. However, chatbots are often quite discreet and – to an over-familiar audience – easily overlooked.
That’s a net positive when you don’t want to interrupt customer browsing.
But there’s no need to be discreet on FAQ pages or pages that contain your business’s contact information. These are the best places to snag would-be callers with a chatbot.
One of the best chatbot strategies we’ve seen is to auto-populate the chatbot with a question based on the webpage content. So, if a visitor navigates to a page about delivery timescales, they can ask about their delivery – without even needing to type their question.
Over 70% of customers would rather deal with a chatbot than make a call. There are two key elements to a successful chatbot interaction:
- The chatbot has context and can access relevant data about the customer
- Data from the chatbot interaction is stored and can inform future interactions
This is another situation where API integration is crucial. The best chatbot in the world is practically useless if it can’t draw from (and add to) your understanding of each customer.
Why you should motivate callers to switch to self-service
If you preempt customer queries – and advertise your self-service well – you’ll shrink call volume by a lot.
But some customers will still call your contact center.
At that point, can you still encourage them to use self-service instead?
The answer is yes, you can – but you have to walk a fine line.
It’s become standard practice to ask queueing callers to visit your website for answers. However, well over half of callers have already visited your website without getting an answer. The rest are probably unwilling or unable.
So: telling customers to ‘go away’ is not a viable option.
But what if you can offer them something better than an agent?
How to motivate callers to self-serve
Your IVR system is a ready-made self-service system. Customers will use it under the right circumstances.
You need to:
- Equip your IVR to handle diverse questions
- Create an incentive to use IVR
Equipping your IVR means… well, what we already talked about regarding chatbots.
Integrate the IVR with surrounding systems so it has contextual data and appropriate responses. Regular IVR testing is a must and should flag up the gaps in the system’s capabilities.
(Assess your IVR like you’d assess an agent – that’s the standard you should hold it to.)
What about creating the incentive to use IVR? That’s simple – customers want fast service, which is something the IVR can offer.
All it takes is a short recorded message at the start of the call: ‘Hello, and welcome to X. I can connect you to an agent as soon as one is available – but it might be faster if I help you myself. Is that ok?’
If you can do these three simple things – preempt calls, promote self-service options and encourage callers to self-serve – you can deflect a substantial number of calls.
That leaves your contact center agents free to tackle issues which really need their skill and attention. It’ll also bring down the queue time for customers, reduce your peaks and do good things for your CX.