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Aptumo: 10 Ways to Boost Call Center Performance in 2023

From the Knowledge Centre

The customer service landscape continues to evolve rapidly. Gone are the days of just phone calls and emails. Modern technology has opened up a bevy of new contact channel possibilities. Customer expectations are constantly resetting because continuous improvements are being made to the level of service being provided.

The customer service landscape continues to evolve rapidly. Gone are the days of just phone calls and emails. Modern technology has opened up a bevy of new contact channel possibilities. Customer expectations are constantly resetting because continuous improvements are being made to the level of service being provided. In today’s 24/7 multi-channel world, we cannot risk standing still. We must question, challenge and fine-tune wherever possible in order to improve operational performance and to deliver true customer service excellence.

As modern technology like automation and AI continues to dominate and shape the call center industry, 2023 could see companies that really embrace the potential of digital significantly improve productivity and operational efficiency. Making full use of industry-specific technology will give them the capacity to offer the service options customers want, when they want them, and using the channels that suit them.

Aptumo, billing and customer engagement experts in the water industry, shares ten ways to drive improvements in customer service to boost call center performance.

  1. Continue to put your customers first. No matter which service channel your customers choose to utilize, what remains critically important is the customer experience. As you continue to adapt, grow and innovate, never lose sight of the fact that your focus should always be on the one thing that really matters: your customers. While channel choice is certainly important, it’s the customer experience that’s paramount. You can offer a dozen different ways for customers to reach you, but each offering must prioritize service and create meaningful value. Consider the self-serve model. While these 24/7 platforms enable customers to help themselves and to get answers quickly, they are not always the best choice, especially for complex inquiries. Research shows that people still feel more comfortable and confident dealing with a complex, personal, or financial issue when a representative is involved, and typically via the phone rather than digitally.

  2. Your people are your greatest asset. It’s still people who make the real difference. Engaging, helpful and highly skilled multi-channel contact teams are critical in keeping your customers satisfied. Passion for exceeding customer expectations at every stage of the customer journey is what drives acquisition, retention, satisfaction, and trust. The most successful businesses work hard to create a customer-focused culture, putting the customer at the heart of everything they do, and recognize the value their employees bring to the relationship. Make sure that your teams have the tools they need and keep them up to date on performance and any changes that will affect them through a clear, structured communications plan.

  3. Choose a partner who understands the regulated environment in which you operate. Especially considering the labor shortages and remote work economy, you may be considering outsourcing some or all of your contact center staff. It’s important to choose an experienced team that not only understands your market and its regulatory requirements, but a team that understands the expectations of your customers and one that is able to meet your constantly evolving objectives. When looking for a support team, choose an organization that is deeply rooted in the contact center and customer service industry and one that cares about and protects your customer relationships and brand as if they were their own.

  4. Simplify interactions. Make the journey to fulfill a transaction as easy as possible for the customer; speed and efficiency are essential. Avoid complicated enrollment processes and, from making payments to inquiring about membership options, every type of customer communication or engagement that your contact center supports should be as streamlined as possible. Likewise, any opportunity to communicate should use simple, jargon-free language.

  5. Offer flexibility to customers. Flexibility is key to customer satisfaction. A scripted approach may work for most contacts, but some customers will need more flexible support - people who can engage, understand a customer’s concerns, and work towards a solution. Use specially trained agents to handle the more complex cases and allow for additional provisions and protection for vulnerable groups such as extended grace periods, breathing space, or pay as you go plans for low-income customers.

  6. Utilize data to fully understand the customer. Use customer data to understand needs; you’re there to provide a service but one size doesn’t fit all. Be aware of vulnerabilities or social trends and changes that can affect how customers engage with a supplier. Good customer data can help to prevent issues such as missed payments, so utilizing predictive analytics and leveraging existing internal information along with externally sourced data is a good place to start. Data-driven analytics from a provider like Equifax, for example, can help you segment customer data to prioritize high-risk customers for closer monitoring and management.

  7. Don’t split the data too far. When it comes to customer segmentation, going into overly granular detail can often overcomplicate processes. Use broad parameters to establish specific procedures for the ‘type’ of customer in a particular group such as those with a lower income who may experience frequent issues with making payments, or customers with funds available that simply choose not to make payments either to you or other suppliers. Further demographic segmentation within each group can offer additional insight into the type of communication and engagement needed. For example, elderly customers are unlikely to be technically savvy or respond to text messages.

  8. Make use of technology. Smart tech that connects various parts of the customer journey helps to present a seamless service. It can give contact center agents a real-time, 360degree view of each customer’s profile – often including every interaction a business has ever had with them – and provide prompts to guide agents through conversations to ensure quality and accuracy. Systems can also support coaching and development activities to ensure agents have the multitude of skills they need to perform successfully in today’s omnichannel contact centers.

  9. Choose the right billing solution. Good billing software can significantly reduce operational costs by deflecting call center volume, increasing customer satisfaction and retention, and by empowering customers to solve their most frequently asked questions. A modern, scalable billing and customer information platform also eliminates the costly and inefficient requirement for continued system maintenance and vendor support which is a frustrating characteristic of many legacy systems. A good technology provider can also reduce outsourced development needs by more than 50% allowing for greater agility and control over configuration changes.

  10. Get recruitment right. Hire the “right” personalities for the role. People can be trained to do a job but they can’t be taught the soft skills or “people” skills that make the difference when a customer is struggling with a situation. Focus on the value of good staff that has empathy, understanding and patience. Understand their career aspirations and give them the opportunities they need or want to achieve their goals. Simple recognition and appreciation goes a long way, as does training, development, and visible career pathways. Don’t forget that some people may not want a career – they might just be passing through on the way to their chosen profession or simply want to turn up each day, do a good day’s work and get paid for it. Whatever the case, appreciate them for the work they do; someone content in their role or someone who moves on with happy memories of an employer is a valuable ambassador for your brand.

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