5 steps to effective call deflection
Following what was a challenging year for many businesses, customer retention has arguably never been so important. A key component to driving customer retention and loyalty is the delivery of great customer service. Afterall, not only does a totally satisfied customer contribute 14 times more revenue than a somewhat dissatisfied customer, but according to the “Serial Switchers” report, poor customer service is actually costing businesses more than $75 billion a year.
But with a 44% increase in call volumes since the beginning of the pandemic and businesses having to navigate the operational challenges associated with a third national lockdown. The question remains – how can businesses optimise their customer service in the current climate? This is where call deflection strategies can prove particularly effective.
What is call deflection?
Call deflection is reducing the number of inbound calls by redirecting the customer enquiry to an alternative self-serve channel. The goal is to ensure that customers receive answers to their queries in an efficient manner, while also reducing the number of inbound calls routed to contact centre staff – essentially deflecting the calls.
Put simply, successful call deflection strategies enable enquiries to be resolved via self-service channels such as FAQs, online knowledge hubs and virtual customer assistants.
An effective call deflection strategy lessens staff workload, enabling them to focus on the most complex cases without impacting the customer experience. When done correctly, this approach can even improve the customer experience.
5 steps to creating an effective call deflection strategy
1. Monitor customer calls
Effective call deflection starts with identifying patterns in customer calls. By monitoring calls and building an understanding of the top intent behind certain call types, businesses can focus their information and resources appropriately.
For example, individuals calling about a loan application may be automatically directed to speak to an agent. But what if the customer would like to switch to paperless billing? If this can be executed via self-service options, knowing the customer’s intent enables businesses to deflect the call, in this case, to an online portal where they can request paperless, online billing.
2. Create an online customer forum
Online customer forums can prove to be invaluable to your business. By creating an online space for your customers, they can share real-time information and anecdotal answers which can often eliminate the need for customers to reach out to your agents.
3. Introduce proactive communications
In short this comes down to pre-empting the customer call and implementing a communication strategy to deliver information to customers before they pick up the phone. By introducing automated email, SMS and even prominent signposting on your business’ website, you can keep customers informed and encourage the use of self-service channels.
For example, your business may find that once an individual has applied for a loan or service online, they may call asking for further information about the process and potential timelines, or even a simple update on progress. By sending customers an SMS post application with either a link to FAQs or with further information within an SMS web page, businesses can let customers know that they will be informed as and when progress is made throughout the application, delivering the information prior to the outbound call being made. What’s more, as SMS benefits from an open rate of 95% businesses can be confident that this update has been both received and read.
4. Adopt a multichannel approach
It’s important to remember that proactive communications will only be effective if they are both received and read by the intended recipients. Ultimately the most appropriate channels will be dictated by your customer audience preferences and we would always recommend a multichannel approach. But as 69% of customers across all age groups want to contact a business via SMS and 90% of all text messages are read within just 3 minutes, SMS can prove particularly successful.
5. Continually optimise online support material
Online support material includes everything from FAQ documents and web pages to how-to videos. These types of materials need to be continually updated, not only to reflect any changes to processes, services and products but also in order to develop inline with customer intent. In addition to reviewing the data behind your business’ call monitoring, companies can also look at data from their websites, for example, the search terms being used by customers to build an up-to-date picture of what information customers are looking for and either create or update materials accordingly.