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The Good CX Guide

Using personalisation to support your vulnerable customers

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This article was originally published in The Good CX Guide, an e-book on the topic of caller experience best practice. To download the guide, packed with practical advice for contact centre professionals, please click here. 

A personalised caller experience allows customers to interact with you in a way that suits them, that allows them to feel unique and special, in a way that’s specific to their needs. This is even more important when those needs are more complex. Considering your more vulnerable callers, how are their needs met? Are they afforded the same opportunity and treatment as all your callers, or are they met with a more dedicated approach appropriate to their specific need?

Ofcom’s ‘Guide to Treating Vulnerable Customers Fairly’ says: “We want vulnerable people to receive a high level of customer care to help them to manage their communications services effectively”. The rules to support this came into place in October 2018 making fair treatment of vulnerable customers a legal requirement, and failure comes with a hefty price tag (Ofcom 2019) costing some businesses millions of pounds.

When you consider improving your customer service for vulnerable or priority callers, it’s important to show that you’ve considered their additional needs, and that you recognise them as the individuals that they are. It’s important to give the customer the feeling that they’re in control, almost as if you’ve built your business around them. After all: “You can tell the customer they’re always right, but it’s so much better to show them they are.” (Playvox, 2020).

While most callers encounter a generalised approach when reaching out via your telephony channel; offering a more personalised experience could take away the potential frustration that some of your more vulnerable callers may currently experience. By showing your callers that you understand their needs and by taking their reason for calling into account, you can make the world of difference.

For instance, a caller who uses hearing aids might appreciate a different approach to their queueing experience, whether that means adjusting the volume or simplifying the music, or even by offering them the choice to have a different queueing journey. This shows that their specific needs are being considered. By prioritising callers who have more complex needs to dedicated teams you can reduce the callers’ time in queue and allow the right teams to deal with the right queries, in the right way.

Remember, personalisation is a “powerful way to communicate empathically with your customers to tailor your business to their particular needs.” (Optimizely, 2020). By building a caller experience strategy that identifies your customers’ preferences, you can create targeted experiences that better meet their needs from the start, and this is true for all of your customers. Along with the 14.1 million disabled people in the UK, additional requirements could come from short or long-term mental health problems, changes in personal circumstances, bereavement, not to mention the effects of recent events.

The act of creating personalised caller experiences, at first, might seem quite complex, and in the wake of tightened privacy laws (i.e. the GDPR) it’s even more difficult to know the legalities of positively personalising your customers’ experiences. This is a challenging climate, contact centre managers are dealing with a huge task – how to meet all of their consumers’ needs; how to correctly manage personal data and create content, and personalised solutions in real time. Ofcom suggests the following steps as a starting point:

  • establishing and publishing policies;
  • treating vulnerable customers fairly;
  • recording information;
  • monitoring performance;
  • staff training.

This approach is also suggested in a report by Gloria Omale from the Gartner Group around the concept of personalising customer experience. She suggests that organisations should ‘refocus’ on first-party data – information the business has collected directly from their audience. This information is readily available to you in your CRM, and while linking this to API lookups in your existing telephony infrastructure may seem impossible, solutions do exist that don’t require prohibitive investment.

Live streaming services that can automatically route callers through a dedicated queue targeted to individuals, coupled with the ability to update messaging and music, live…are powerful tools.

Investing in dynamic, cloud-based technology can open a world of personalisation, allowing you to break free of static IVRs and offer a personalised experience automatically, right from the start of the customer journey.

By utilising your first-party data coupled with affordable queue personalisation, you can encourage repeat callers to deflect to other avenues of contact, like app or web-based services whilst supporting callers who you know struggle with these.

Real-time updates for individual callers give you the power to make them aware of an issue in a particular location, such as service outages in specific areas, or delays caused by accidents or road works.

By using your data effectively, you’ll be playing relevant messaging to only the affected callers. This will not only reduce frustration but increase positive abandonment at the same time. You’ll be better at meeting the needs of all your callers, avoid big fines and save costs in the short and long term. Not to mention the add on benefit of increasing customer retention. After all, “where personalisation used to be a nice option for marketing, today it is a requirement for creating a positive customer experience. By micro-segmenting customers, providing them with highly relevant content, using omnichannel data, and leveraging AI, businesses can create a positive, personalised journey for their customers.” (Clark, S 2020).

N.B. This article was originally published in The Good CX Guide, an e-book on the topic of caller experience best practice.  To download the guide, packed with practical advice for contact centre professionals, please click here. 

The author of this article is Tom King & Liz Ross.

Agile Queue Management – How to manage queues more effectively

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By Kirsty Ferguson, Enterprise Engagement Lead, Premier CX

N.B. This article was originally published in The Good CX Guide, an e-book on the topic of caller experience best practice.  To download the guide, packed with practical advice for contact centre professionals, please click here.

In most articles I have read about managing call queues, one piece of advice that always pops up is to be “dynamic”. However, what does that really mean? And how can you possibly even think about being agile and dynamic when you have a giant board of lights above your head with queue times rising above SLA and several callers waiting that you know aren’t going to get through before the lines cut off at the end of the day?

In reality, the answer is simple. USE THE QUEUE. Literally, use all you have available to you to manage your peaks and keep those boards at bay. In this brief article, I’m going to suggest how you can get started.

Step One – What You Can Use

Think about your arsenal. Do you have live chat? Do you have comfort messaging? Maybe you can publish your wait times. Whatever it is, use it in context. Being dynamic is about knowing what to use and when to use it. Furthermore, if you have enough agility to turn things on and off as you need to in real-time, then even better.

For example, if you have long queues and your live chat is switched off, switch it on and put a message in the queue telling the caller it’s now available. If you can stream, then chances are you can set parameters to automatically drop this message in when queue lengths hit a specific timeframe. Do you have the ability to stream in queue experiences? Can you publish your wait times? You may think you can’t utilise some of this stuff without IT’s help, but clever messaging can open a whole world of deflection that can help you manage your queues.

Step Two – Why Are the Queues There?

What has caused your queue? Is it external communication that’s resulted in a sudden influx of calls? Is it a forecasted spike or is it just an unknown? What is the most likely thing the caller is going to be talking to your agents about? Once you know the cause, you can account for how long the peak is likely to last and switch on helpful messaging in the queue when needed.

For example, suppose you have a power outage that affects a particular postcode. A simple CLI lookup will enable you to only advise callers from the appropriate geographical area of the outage and how long electricity is likely to be down. If you are receiving spikes for several reasons when queueing hits a certain threshold, why not introduce a more empathetic level of music/voice and tone into your queue. You could also add a message to advise that live chat is available or that non-urgent queries can be dealt with online.

Step Three – Get Your Caller Agent Ready

Is the caller ready? Think about what you need the caller to know, or have at their fingertips, when they get connected to help the agent assist them more efficiently. Things like delivery details, order numbers, account numbers, and so on. And if they don’t have this info, and you can’t talk to them without it, let them know (nicely, of course) before they get to an agent. Then when they call back, recognise the fact they are a repeat caller. You can use dynamic IVR to show you know they are a repeat caller and give them a message along the lines of:

“Thanks for calling back. We’ll put you straight through to someone who can help with deliveries, but if you want to talk to us about something else, press ‘1’ to go to the main menu”.

This will help prioritise your callers that are in the queue.

These are just a few ways that the queue and IVR can help you manage demand, keep you agile, and enable you to be dynamic when under the pressure of mounting call queues. Of course, some queues are just inevitable, but there is always something else that can be done by using what you have. You just have to look hard enough.

N.B. This article was originally published in The Good CX Guide, an e-book on the topic of caller experience best practice.  To download the guide, packed with practical advice for contact centre professionals, please click here.