How to improve customer experience with call blending
How to improve customer experience with call blending
Running a customer support team is like riding a roller coaster. There’s ups, downs, lulls, and terrifying free falls that make you wonder if that second toasted sandwich was such a good idea.
If you run a customer service team and an outbound sales team you have twice the rollercoasters to handle. And maybe that first toasted sandwich to reconsider.
Many small to medium businesses are ditching the rollercoaster altogether. They’re blending both to create a single customer service team. A nice flat, manageable path that kills the lulls and fully mans the spikes in customer support calls. Call blending looks a little like this:
As the peaks and troughs of customer support calls arrive your sales (outbound) team can switch to inbound calls to help handle the load. As the inbound queues die down, your support team can switch to outbound sales calls to make better use of their time. Instead of running two teams, you are essentially running a single customer service team that can handle both types of calls.
Call blending makes short work of the fluxes in calls and your rollercoaster becomes a nice, smooth, consistent line of nice, smooth consistent service.
So that’s how call blending works in a nutshell. But the question remains, why is call blending a shot in the arm for your customers’ experience?
- Your existing customers become your priority
Long queue times be gone! With call blending, incoming support calls are your team’s priority. When call levels are high your sales team can switch to receive incoming calls, reducing wait time and providing a better experience for your customers.
- Your customer support team become sales champions Agents who are trained as customer care can make excellent sales members. Their unique experience in dealing with customer questions, triggers and concerns gives them a wealth of knowledge to assist in converting leads. Plus, when your customer care team start working in sales, they can be less… well, sales-y.
- Your sales team get a solid education And vice versa, Your sales team can learn an awful lot by spending time on the inbound customer support line.
- You don’t have to blend everyone Not all your agents are going to have the skills to switch between inbound and outbound calls. In fact some reports say that only 10-15% of agents have the skills to do both. It may not sound like much but a handful of blended agents can make a big difference. Your top notch sales guys should stay on the outbound call, just like your first-class customer support agents. The best practice is to split your team into three – inbound, outbound and blended.
- Your customers get to deal with the same person from start to finish
A blended team is also an opportunity to build personal, long term relationships with your customers. Blended call centres mean that from the moment of the first sales call, your customers can be serviced by one staff member – their personal support crew. The customer has a query your agent can’t answer just yet? They’ll give them a call back, just like a friend would.
And just in case you’re wondering, we’re talking about building real relationships not just the illusion of one, (yes, we’re looking at you David Schwimmer)…
How to make blended work
Blended may be a magical beast that improves productivity and customer experiences, but it requires structure to work at its best. Throwing any agent onto a blended system and any time without guidance may do more harm than good. Here’s how to introduce blended for the best results.
Plan for success
Firstly, monitor the pattern of blended calls. Use your contact centre technology to predict peaks and troughs in your inbound calls and schedule your blended team accordingly. If your blended team is constantly switching between inbound and outbound their productivity and their concentration may flag. Rules can be applied so that an agent switches to outbound only after a certain period with no inbound calls.
Don’t forget your scripts
Your blended agents need to be able to adapt fast from the support calls (creative problem solving and quick thinking) to the sales calls (purposeful, controlled). This is where a well-considered outbound script can support them in the switch. Make sure your contact centre technology has the ability to add live updates to scripts so that they’re ready to go whenever your agents are.
Don’t let the lag get you down
Noojee’s Blender capabilities enables inbound and outbound calls to be received and made through a single interface. It’s a single system that allows agents to move between the two without switching screens. Less lag time, better productivity and ultimately a better experience for your customers.
Check in with your KPIs
When done correctly your blended team should show an improvement in KPIs such as:
- Queue time
- First Call Resolution
- Customer Satisfaction
- Number of calls taken
- Time of call
- Idle time
If you’re not seeing improvements in these KPIs then re-examine your setup. It could be that you have the wrong people in your blended team, the scripting support isn’t there or your agents are switching between call types too frequently.
Some studies show that inbound agents spend up to 65 idle minutes per day waiting for call. Multiply that by a team of 20 and you’ve got a whole lot of wasted hours on your hands. By implementing your blended team correctly you could add the equivalent of 3 ¼ more full time workers to the team (without actually adding any).