Gone are the days where call centers are defined solely by ringing phones, putting customers on hold and taking messages. Today, the modern call center has evolved into an omnichannel beast that has disrupted the relationship between customers and companies.
To stay relevant with the digital savvy millennial generation, call centers have adopted new technology like social media, live chat and mobile applications. As a result of this shift in consumer behaviour, the role of contact center agents and customer engagement has changed.
However, that does not mean human interaction is dead. Technology can't solve everything. According to Accenture, 83% of U.S. consumers still prefer dealing with people over digital channels to resolve their customer service issues. Artificial intelligence can't replace human empathy or intuitively find creative solutions to complex problems.
Why your call center still needs a human element
“People buy from people they trust, and they trust people they like." - Garrison Wynn"
Every time one of your agents interacts with a customer, it is more than just spewing out words and phrases - it is an opportunity to build a relationship. Ultimately people do business with people they like and by creating a call center environment where callers feel appreciated you will increase customer lifespans.
Every human interaction also gives your agents a valuable opportunity to learn more about the customer's challenges, wants and needs. This insight can help you improve not only your customer service but your bottom line.
Here's how to make sure your call center maintains its human element in an increasingly digitalized world.
1. Don't blindly automate your processes
Peter Parker also known as Spiderman's Uncle Ben famously said: "With great power comes great responsibility."
Surprisingly, the call center world can learn a lot from this simple quote when it comes to implementing new business processes. While there are many benefits to using technology to streamline workflow, there is a fine line. Call center managers should be careful to avoid implementing a system that blindly automates everything and strips away the human element in the process.
Instead use the power of technology wisely. Don't let it dominate your call center to the point that customers no longer feel like they are dealing with people whom they can talk to about their problems. Doing so could cause a relational rift and destroy a customer-centric approach to operations.
2. Give your call center agents flexibility
Just like no two snowflakes are alike, nor are people's problems. While we all have our standard processes that need to be followed, now and then a customer's problem requires a unique solution.
If a client is dealing with only artificial intelligence, this is hard to do. For now, only human-to-human interaction can work together to create a flexible solution that meets the customer's needs. Don't keep your agents sidelined on the bench.
Instead give them the authority to make on-the-spot decisions and exceptions.
Let your agents use their wealth of skill, knowledge and intuitive to foster a positive experience that will leave your customer feeling valued. It is a competitive advantage that all the technology in the world cannot offer you.
3. Adapt and remove redundancy for improved customer service
Another way to improve the relationship between technology and the human element in your call center is to consider what technology processes you can remove. In a world where clients are quickly redefining customer service, it's important you listen to their needs to stay on top of your A-game.
If an agent is free, it might be a good idea to remove playing the menu for a customer as it can be assumed they probably want to talk to someone if they have taken the time to phone.
It’s all about finding the balance between technology and human interaction. Phoning a call center to change a password is a simple problem that can be resolved with an automated procedure. However, if a customer has a question about a software glitch, that issue is far more complex and needs the human touch.
4. The human element reduces frustration
Artificial intelligence can only interact with a human until a certain point. AI does not pick up on all the subtle cues of human emotion. That's when a well-trained agent comes into the picture.
Bots don't yet have the ability to fully assess a client's issues, relate to customers and diffuse a situation when needed. Skilled agents and human interaction is still a mut to deliver personalized and well-crafted customer service that WOWs.
Before you rush to automate all your processes and reduce expensive human contact, keep the best trained and emotionally intelligent agents onboard. It's thanks to them that you'll be able to provide that extra something special for your customers.
While innovation is needed to remain competitive and relevant, your human customer support will ultimately define your customer experience.
It's by focusing on building relationships, showing empathy and making your customer feel important that you'll be able to impress and succeed. And no bot can take that away from your agents.