Reliability and why it Matters - The spine of your contact center

Human contact is key to good customer experience as it gives people more confidence. Now there are some valid reasons for an automated IVR system. For instance, you call a movie theatre wanting to get information on the latest movies and their times. The IVR will present a list of the latest movie times for your local theater - this enhances efficiency by eliminating call waiting. Similarly IVRs can also be applied in a similar way in office call routing, bank information updates and other similar activities.

However, interaction with a live person provides more flexibility in discussing issues. It allows customers to talk about issues on their own terms, in a manner that they feel comfortable with. According to some industry data 53% of customers still use IVR systems to speak to representatives when they have an issue or question that needs answering. This is even while chat, email and AI adoption continues to increase. The fact that there’s a human being at the other end of the call, gives the customer a chance to use their voice which helps to build closeness. Thus, the negative impact of inaccessibility amid a blackout can affect your whole business.

The most common application of IVRs is of course, contact centers. In this article, we are going to look at why reliability in contact centers matters

As customers are unable to reach agents via telephone efficiency and productivity decrease. However, the real impact of an unplanned outage is really to the brands reputation. Similarly, by restoring services seamlessly and with minimal impact, the flipside is true. Not only does client satisfaction increase, so to does positive brand recognition.

According to an American Express survey, 70% of customers are willing to pay more for exceptional customer service. Similarly 83% of consumers state they try to avoid a company after a poor IVR experience. We have established that there are several things that a contact center should do to improve these important statistics. These are as follows:

· Build credibility by improving agent knowledge

· Improve reliability by through the use of technology

· Build empathy by boosting soft skills

Why Reliability matters in Contact Centers

Contact centers are about good customer service and good customer experience. One of the most important characteristics of a good contact center is reliability. Let’s now see why reliability is such an important trait to contact centers.

It maintains quality

Offering a high-quality product to your customers is one thing. Offering it at record speed is also one thing. The most important thing though is maintaining the quality of your product and the speed at which it is made available to the customer. Studies have shown that customers are willing to pay more for exceptional quality and service even when products offer the same features. Not being consistent reduces the quality of your product and you may lose a lot of customers for that.

It builds strong relationships with customers

Being consistent and reliable helps you build loyal customers. Many companies obtain customers based on price or features but lose them quickly based on quality and customer experience. This especially applies to the modern age of the internet where customers will share their experiences online. While the adage states that there is "no such thing as bad publicity", the reality is quite different. Nothing breaks a company worse than negative attention.

It maintains and improves the overall customer experience

Business is not always about the product. Your product could be the best in the market, but customers would choose your rival if the rival’s customer experience beats yours.

Improving reliability is one way of making customers less frustrated and happier. Speed, accuracy, reliability are all good characteristics of customer experience. They cannot however, work on their own. Concentrating on speed and accuracy while ignoring reliability might not do much for your business’ customer experience and your business’ overall performance.

Reduces abandonment of calls

You might have all the necessary equipment and personnel to ensure an awesome contact center service. However, your customer might not be able to experience your amazing services if they don’t stay on the call long enough. You should ensure your contact center is reliable enough for customers to be able to estimate how long it takes before their calls are picked. This will greatly reduce cases of call abandonment.

It helps build brand reputation

Initial quality service doesn’t build a brand reputation. However consistent quality service does. When your company consistently delivers quality services, customers notice this. This helps improve brand reputations and also serves as a positive form of advertising.

Happy customers are the easiest to do business with

Have you ever called customer service, been put on hold for 30 minutes then directed to someone who can’t communicate effectively? How did you feel? Anger?

Yes, that’s exactly what you felt. You probably were very harsh even when you were finally directed to someone you could communicate well with. There is nothing good about an unreliable service. They keep your customers unhappy and harder to deal with.

Is it possible to become more reliable?

Yes this is something that is completely in your control. There are three keys to reliability:

· Monitoring - Within any improvement process, monitoring and analysis is the first step. It is the basis for change, growth and improvement.

· Quality Assurance & Automated Testing Assurance- Quality assurance is only successful if testing is robust and complete. Testing tracks opportunities and threats within the customer experience process

Monitoring & Observation

Lets take the example of a typical call center. Despite the growth of speech recognition, quality monitoring in call centers continues to be provided by humans. Recording tools automatically record and even select calls, but the analysis of those calls is by an individual. These investigators are often employees themselves or depending on the size of the call center, could be an outside organization. Generally speaking the latter is viewed as more unbiased and impartial.

Monitoring is a nonstop procedure that consists of:

· observing and managing data collection,

· analysis of the data obtained,

· and feedback to the impacted employees.

It involves listening to call center agents phone conversations with customers. Effective call monitoring can provide benefits to the whole call center ecosystem. To begin with, you assemble information related to your call center’s performance (agent effectiveness, customer attrition, quickness of execution, and so forth.), gain valuable insight from it, and finally, act according to that. This is a cyclic procedure. Once it’s finished, it has to be started over again.

From a technical and systems process point of view, monitoring works similarly. While tools exist to alert and notify of issues and areas of concern, human input is often required to determine what these issues mean. This understanding also applies to a consideration of the impact of any identified issues. Identifying problems quickly helps pinpoint customer frustrations and inefficient and broken procedures. Monitoring also helps understand the impact of operational processes on service and how that impacts compliance.

A well designed call center monitoring system influences customer experience. It also directly contributes to and helps drive customer loyalty.

How quality assurance and testing work to improve reliability

Let's go back to our typical call center again. So as to guarantee a positive encounter for each customer, in addition to monitoring calls, analysis is needed. Contact center managers and quality assurance (QA) specialists scrutinize calls made to the IVR right down to the agent level to understand the underlying issues and gaps. Based on the analysis, specific training plans are created to improve services and skills.

Testing and quality assurance are closely linked and in fact testing provides the information used by quality. Without knowing what and how to measure, quality cannot be accurate. Similarly however, quality identifies additional issues for testing.

When it comes to IVR systems, it's important to have appropriate testing and service assurance in place that can quickly and easily identify potential issues and problems. Quality teams can validate these issues and also come up with possible solutions to the problem. Companies that seek to grow and strengthen need to be committed to delivering reliable customer experiences through its IVR systems.