Issue Resolution: The Primary Prerequisite for Customer Satisfaction

When customers call into contact centers, they are usually experiencing one of two problems: 1) a billing issue, or 2) product or service assistance. And quick resolution is their aim. Unfortunately, this is not happening regularly. Along with this complaint, customers are growing impatient with companies’ interactive voice response (IVR) systems. Together, these issues have caused the Contact Center Satisfaction Index (CCSI) to drop to 68—the lowest it’s been since 2007.

Released last month by CFI Group, the latest CCSI score, based on a 0- to 100-point scale, slid four points this year. CFI reports that just 52 percent of issues are resolved on first contact (down 6 percent from 2015) and one-third of consumers fail to resolve their issues through self-service options. Especially frustrated by these hurdles are today’s young adults—those individuals born between 1980 and 2000 known as millennials.

Raised in an on-demand digital world, millennials—the nation’s largest demographic—expect readily available information they can easily tap into themselves.

To meet the demands of this generation, and consumers in general, contact centers must better align their processes to exceed customer expectations. Here are some key points to guide these improvements:

Get on board the omnichannel train: Consumers want to interact with brands using their preferred channels. The top five of which are telephone, email, live chat, online portal/FAQ and search engine, according to a 2015 report from Microsoft. Despite telephone’s popularity, Microsoft found that 57 percent of people in the U.S. typically begin brand interactions online; 35 percent begin with the telephone.

First call resolution: Customer satisfaction with contact centers goes hand in hand with the first call resolution (FCR) metric. In addition, even when FCR is achieved, satisfaction is decreased if the caller has to speak with more than one Communicator. On the flip side, the length of time it takes to achieve FCR is not a factor unless the call lasts more than 30 minutes.

Yet, most U.S. customers won’t wait on hold for service no matter how quickly their issues can be resolved. Only 43 percent of Microsoft’s respondents reported a tolerance for even a one- to five-minute wait.

Personal customer care: Even the best technology, wonderful as it is at helping contact center leaders to forecast call volume and deploy skills-based routing, cannot replace the human touch. When customers are frustrated or angry, no IVR or self-help portal is going to be able to de-escalate emotions the way a responsive, empathetic Communicator can.

Whereas a 2012 Amdocs survey found that 75 percent of consumers would prefer to use online support if it were available, a new Verint study shows that human involvement is a critical component in solving queries, especially when complex or sensitive. In fact, four out of five of the 24,000 respondents to Verint’s interview prefer that customer service continue to include human interactions.

Your contact center is critical to creating a customer experience that can differentiate your company in the marketplace. Deploy technologies and strategies now that will show your customers how much you value their business.

 

How to Resolve the Top Three Most Frustrating Customer Service Experiences

Microsoft’s annual U.S. State of Multichannel Customer Service Report is filled with helpful insights about customer expectations for service and engagement, and it confirms something most of us already know: A full 98 percent of U.S. consumers say that customer service is very important or somewhat important in their choice of, or loyalty to, a brand.

There will always be challenges in achieving the highest level of customer service, though. Some of those issues were brought to light in the report, which asked consumers to name what they consider to be the most frustrating aspects of a customer service experience. Let’s take a look at the top three customer frustrations and consider how they might be addressed in any one of our contact centers. Who knows—maybe next year we can bump these off the list entirely (or at least move them to the bottom of the list!).

  1. Being passed between agents was cited by 22 percent of respondents as a frustration, topping the list as a whole. Interactive voice response (IVR) systems can go a long way toward resolving this frustration. While IVR is already widely in use in contact centers, it’s not always used to its full potential. IVR is great for automating simple, repetitive tasks, but it can also direct calls to specific individuals who are most qualified to help. Assignments are made based on selections chosen by the callers as they progress through the system. But don’t stop there—take customer surveys to get actionable feedback to improve your IVR. Continuous review and redesign of the system will ensure that customers reach the right party every time, with no bouncing around. If a Communicator is forced to transfer a call, be sure you have the technology available to pass customer information from one employee’s screen to the next.
  2. Having to contact a brand or organization multiple times for the same issue was cited by 21 percent of respondents as the second-greatest frustration. Before you fix anything else, be sure your Communicators aren’t being incentivized to wrap up calls quickly. If your performance metrics emphasize average handle time, you may be unwittingly cutting off calls before they come to a full resolution. Rather than get rid of the metric altogether, combine it with other metrics that focus on customer satisfaction. Some businesses are making a concerted effort to resolve problems on the first call by training Communicators to dig deep for answers—putting customers on hold while they contact other parties in an effort to find an answer. Still other businesses are providing Communicators with a robust knowledge base to serve as an information resource, which could be useful for solving a host of problems.
  3. IVR automation/not being able to reach a live person was cited by 18 percent of consumers as a major frustration. IVR is often cited as a customer pain point, but again, a more thoughtful implementation delivers better results. Some IVR systems don’t offer customers a way out, so make sure yours does. To keep the use of this “exit strategy” to a minimum, simplify your menu options. Providing four or five options is considered optimal, and prioritize them so the most commonly selected ones are stated first. Only include essential information, and incorporate a callback feature to prevent too-long holding times. Very often IVR is the beginning of the customer service journey, so it should be considered as important as any other channel in the contact center. If you dedicate the appropriate funds, time and effort into getting it right, you’ll reap the benefits in happier—and less frustrated—customers.

Click here for a brief summary of customer expectations around the globe as presented in the Microsoft report.

Strategies for Implementing Live Chat

It’s no mystery that you need live chat on your website or app to stay competitive in the e-commerce world. A chat box dropping down onto the user screen is becoming a commonplace occurrence for Internet information-seekers and shoppers, enabling them to quickly and easily connect with a Communicator in real time. Many companies have employed the technology to better serve customers and improve the experience with their brands.

The added bonus for businesses with a chat box offering is the increased ability it gives them to capture visitor information that can then be used to engage potential and existing customers. Most businesses work hard to bring visitors to their sites but, once they’ve arrived, have no means to gain knowledge about them if they don’t stay. This is often the case; in fact, on average, approximately 45 percent to 50 percent of website visitors leave before moving on to a second webpage—with the bounce rate on mobile devices even higher.

Instead, if your visitor clicks on the chat box, you have an opening to start collecting data: “Welcome to live chat. Who am I speaking with today? Can I get a callback number/email in case we get disconnected?”

Rely on your live chat to gather information organically and even filter out visitors that aren’t a match for your products or services. Plus, if you don’t already offer 24/7 service, your cloud-based live chat solution can enable a cost-effective after-hours presence for basic inquiries. Regular daytime staff can follow up on leads and complex questions.

Keep in mind a finding from Forrester Research: Forty-four percent of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person during a purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer.

Let your customers know you appreciate them by offering them real-time access to Communicators, helping them to quickly and easily resolve issues—and stay on your site through purchase.

Improve the IVR Experience and Spare Live Communicators

Your interactive voice response (IVR) system is supposed to help customers resolve their inquiries; so, why do so many customers want to skip over the system entirely and engage with a live Communicator instead?

From our own experiences as consumers, we understand that some IVRs have poor speech recognition, and some have convoluted dialing options. How many times had you had to re-enter your reply to an IVR question, or replay the entire IVR message before you can select the right option for your inquiry?

Implement the following practices to ensure that your IVR system isn’t detracting from the customer experience:

Don’t hide or delay the option to speak to a live agent: Your customer service goal is to help customers find answers to their questions or complete routine tasks on their own as cost-effectively as possible. This purpose is defeated when a caller “zeroes out”—dials or says “0” that takes them to a human Communicator—the most expensive option. So, your IVR should meet their needs and expectations to the degree that they don’t opt for “0.” How far down the IVR menu you place the option depends on your business model. A high-touch customer-service-oriented business—like hospitality—might want to provide the live Communicator option right up front. On the other hand, a low-cost provider that wants to “train” callers to utilize low-cost channels would put the option lower.

Track IVR effectiveness by monitoring first-call resolution, which strongly rates with customer satisfaction. A rule of thumb is to make the option to speak to an agent available but don’t advertise it.

Flawless speech recognition: IVRs with speech recognition allow caller interactions via voice. Even with the multiple channels many companies are adding to customer support today, the IVR system is still paramount to customer satisfaction and should not be ignored. If your callers are frustrated by the quality of your IVR’s ability to understand their speech, consider an upgrade. Make sure that the IVR system you choose has been designed to interpret a wide range of different pronunciations and tones, and that it politely offers keypad options to customers when it cannot understand them.

Limit the amount of information requested: Assistance should only be one or two options away when a customer calls into your customer service center. If your service requires a lot of information that customers have to key in, errors will occur and users will become frustrated. Either limit the amount of information required to attain service or connect your customers to a live agent from the start.

Offer an escape hatch: The option to speak to a live agent or receive a callback from a Communicator should be offered within a reasonable time period—definitely before your average hold time expires. Be mindful of your callers’ time, don’t hassle them with extensive lists and options. If your IVR is not fluid and responsive, you’re probably experiencing a high abandon rate.

Four Tips for Successful Callbacks

Don’t you love to get a callback option instead of waiting on hold when you reach out to a company? I do. I’m one of those customers who immediately latches on to the callback offer when it’s made. Today’s customers have no patience for idling on hold. For proof, check your social media accounts! This is where angry complaints will be logged—as well as in your Communicators’ ears.

Adding the callback feature to your contact center capabilities is easy with today’s cloud-based offerings. However you introduce the function, though, be sure to heed the following four tips to ensure your callbacks are successful:

  1. Time your callback message to coincide with your average hold time: The message, something like, “If you’d prefer that the next available agent return your call, press 1 now,” must, obviously, be played before your typical caller would hang up. This is your “time to offer,” or TTO, and it depends on your call center’s unique data and analysis. Your TTO will affect your take-up rate, which is the fraction of callers who opt-in after hearing the message.
  1. Repeat the callback offer: As time passes for callers in your IVR system, more and more of them will opt-in. Make sure the callback offer is repeated several times to give hesitant callers a chance to take advantage of the benefit. Don’t leave them wondering, and wishing they’d responded to the offer more quickly. Instead, simply extend the courtesy periodically.
  1. Correctly determine agent availability: Don’t overestimate when the next agent will be available and initiate the callback too early. You may end up placing your customers on hold a second time. Avoid letting your eagerness to maximize agent efficiency result in a negative experience for the customer! This would wipe out the advantage of providing callbacks altogether. A better idea is to already have the agent on the line when the customer picks up the return call. Typically, the downtime for the agent is less than 10 seconds.
  1. Enable other channels with the callback option: A majority of contact centers use multiple channels to interact with their customers: phone, Web, chat, email and text. Yet, if a customer issue is urgent or difficult to resolve, a phone conversation is still the preferred channel. In fact, 77 percent of people polled, according to a Northridge Group survey, reach for the phone in these circumstances. Quality contact center service, therefore, requires smooth transitions between channels in a multichannel environment. When your customer on a chat, for example, decides that he or she wants to talk to a live Communicator immediately, the transfer should be quick and seamless. For a consistent user experience, if your phone channel includes a callback option, so should your other channels.

Your callback solution should, therefore, have strong multichannel functionality, like pre-built components that can be easily integrated into your webpage or mobile app.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

 

How to Move From Data to Insights to Action

As a business leader, you are told often enough to harness the data in your organization to drive more-effective decision making. And maybe you’re thinking “easier said than done”—and you’d be correct.

It’s a struggle in today’s business environment to rein in data when more and more of it arrives every day. Yet the amount of data doesn’t change the fundamental executive decision-making premise: Understand the market to determine how and where to best compete.

So, how do you get from vast compilations of data to pertinent insights that can grow your business?

To win customers, you need data and analytics to show what they want at the times when they are bent on going somewhere, or learning, doing or buying something. You must be able to identify those instances and act on them wisely. Companies that excel go beyond analytics; they build insights they can use to develop truly relevant customer experiences.

Take the following recommendations into consideration:

Integrate data: First, you need to achieve a single view of your customer base. Only then can you ensure optimal product offerings and the most effective communication strategies. Mix together multiple sources of customer and marketing data—from email response rates to data from in-person meetings—with a strong focus on demand generation, to enhance the customer experience. Continually use data and analytics to test your effectiveness. According to a recent study by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, some companies that have captured the full customer journey by integrating multiple sources of data are generating up to 8.5X higher shareholder value.

Stay ahead of the curve: Second, use analytics to generate new value for customers whenever they reach out to your brand, not just to strengthen marketing effectiveness. Continually develop more-sophisticated analytics capabilities and applications, as the ability to gain competitive leverage from analytics is declining as more organizations develop capabilities.

Leverage tools: Sophisticated technology tools allow you to drive customer satisfaction in diverse ways—from your website’s ease of use, to on-time delivery, to actual product performance. This is where analyzing social media and direct customer feedback is especially beneficial.

Broaden marketing scope: Eliminate enterprise market­ing divisions and vertically integrate their roles within each line of business to break down organizational barriers to improving customer experience. This will entrench marketers into a par­ticular customer experience and concentrate their attention on each phase of the customer journey. This includes moving from a product-centric to a customer-centric focus. In today’s market—full of smart and demanding consumers, as well as product commoditization—trying to compete by managing costs won’t do the job. Instead, apply formal customer value measurements to drive and evaluate changes.

Build a team: Create a team of analytics professionals who understand not only data but the technologies that help to amalgamate data into a cohesive whole. Beyond that, place more emphasis on the data than the analytics team, meaning determine the questions the data should answer before setting your analysts free. Otherwise, you could end up with massive amounts of data that actually cloud business implications instead of offering clarity.

A disciplined approach to analytics will garner you an improved customer experience. Just as with any decision-making process, optimize analytics to obtain the desired results.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Picture This: Using Video in Your Contact Center

The idea of incorporating live video chat into the portfolio of customer service offerings has been knocking around the industry for a while, but it seems to have caught fire lately.

The reason for its sudden popularity may be due to several factors that have converged to create the perfect storm: 1) the unprecedented number of customers using mobile phones and tablets; 2) a current emphasis on customer service as a differentiator; and 3) an emphasis on strengthening customer relationships.

While video chat is the least supported channel in today’s contact center (just 8.3 percent of contact centers had it available as of 2015), it is poised to take off. Gartner predicts that, by 2018, more than 100 of the 500 largest global businesses will introduce video-based chat for customer-facing interactions. With the technology firmly in place and customer service expectations at an all-time high, many businesses see video as the logical next step in their quest to provide a superior experience.

What advantages does video offer? 

As we all know, the most successful Communicators strive to build rapport with customers. Video emphasizes that personal connection, enhancing the customer experience beyond what’s possible with non-visual channels. A smiling face and facial expressions generate a positive tone. Plus, the intimacy afforded by face-to-face conversations affects the way service interactions play out. Video conversations are likely to be less antagonistic and more collaborative than those that take place via phone or texts. The relationship transcends utility (“I need to get this done”), and becomes more personal (“Can you help me figure this out?”).

Customer support is also becoming increasingly collaborative. Customers who get in-store assistance may, for example, point to a part on an item that’s not working, or demonstrate their usage of the item, or describe something about the item. In this way, they’re working jointly with a customer service professional to solve a problem together. Video makes this complex collaboration possible even when the two parties are geographically separated. Everything can be shown on screen. It’s yet another way to elevate the service experience.

Finally, some information is best presented visually. Event seating charts, maps, picture directions and screenshots are just a few examples of information that’s easier to show than to describe. The use of video chat makes all of this possible.

Considerations before implementing video

There isn’t much concrete advice to go on when it comes to actually deploying video chat in contact centers, as adoption numbers are small. Clearly, however, there are challenges associated with this channel that should be considered before deployment:

  • Space considerations. Communicators using video chat must be situated in such a way that their environment is uncluttered and the background is appealing. This could mean creating dedicated workspaces for video Communicators that are located away from the rest of the group. Is your office suited to accommodate the additional needed space?
  • Staffing considerations. Do you have Communicators who are willing to work the video channel? Some may feel uncomfortable being on screen. Consider your current staffing requirements and determine what, if any, gaps you’ll need to fill.
  • Additional training. Training will be necessary for employees assigned to video chat. Communicators who are comfortable without scripts will be best suited to this channel. If they put customers on hold, what does that look like for video? What are your standards for video etiquette? Document your best practices from day one.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Change Your Contact Center for the Better As the Season Changes

Change is all around us. The leaves are falling. The air is getting crisp. As we turn the corner into fall, feed off of the seasonal energy and update your contact center strategy.

Here are some practical steps you can take to inspire your team and boost attitude—and performance—in your contact center:

Update your call scripts: Customers pick up on the smallest details when speaking with your Communicators. So it’s vital to ensure your Communicators are inspired and excited during phone interactions. To boost enthusiasm, try updating your call scripts. You can even hold a meeting, and ask for direct feedback from your Communicators about specific areas they think should change. Get a sense of which lines are working, and which can be improved. Doing so will make your Communicators feel like they are part of the team. What’s more, it will make them think actively about the language they use when speaking with customers.

Bring in some fresh faces: The busy holiday rush will be here before you know it. And when this happens, your department may need to scale to handle larger call volumes. This year, be proactive and hire early. This will give you plenty of time to onboard and train your new hires, and to make sure they are well- prepared for the busy season. Plus, your new Communicators will bring a wave of energy and enthusiasm into your department.

Improve your KPIs: Take a hard look at your contact center metrics. Are there any trends that need to disappear along with the summer heat? Take active measures to reduce your abandon rates by tweaking your interactive voice response system or implementing a callback feature. You could also work with your Communicators to look for ways of improving first call resolution rates. KPIs may seem intimidating, but by making them a priority you could significantly boost your customer service ratings.

Innovate: When is the last time you integrated a new technology into your contact center? There are many new customer relationship management (CRM) solutions that you can use to streamline customer support, like issue tracking systems (which can capture and follow customer challenges), multichannel solutions (for communicating with customers over multiple platforms), and knowledge bases (which help Communicators share information among themselves). If your CRM solutions are up to date, it’s worth considering other small investments to make your Communicators happier and more productive. For example, you could consider implementing new headsets, phones or even chairs. It’s amazing how performance can improve when workers are comfortable at their seats.

Remember that you don’t need to have a massive departmentwide overhaul to enact meaningful change. Simply coming to work with a positive, can-do attitude will inspire others to feel the same. Let the winds of change blow through your contact center and drive improvements this season!

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Why You Need to Go Beyond a Single Score to Improve Customer Service

You’re doing all you can to ensure that your contact center is providing customers with optimal service. Perhaps you’ve measured your performance using metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS) and first contact resolution, or have looked even deeper into customer satisfaction by measuring your customer effort score (CES). These are all laudable attempts to get to the bottom of any customer service issues you may need to correct.

Yet, to what degree can these metrics provide an accurate reflection of the customer experience your organization delivers? After all, they are each derived from asking customers one question, such as “How likely is it that you would recommend XYZ to a friend?” But customer experiences, with all their psychological nuances, involve greater complexity than one question can address. If you want to gather customer feedback that can generate valuable, actionable insights, you’ll need to dig a little deeper.

To weigh all the various elements that impact customer satisfaction requires research and analytics—across all customer interaction channels. There’s no silver bullet number that will provide all the insight you need to manage your contact center efficiently and effectively.

The answer to this dilemma, however, is not outside the realm of normal practices. To measure the customer experience with more certitude than a single score can produce, a survey is your best tool. Yes, a simple survey that asks a handful of questions and allows the customer to leave comments can be invaluable for gaining insights into agent performance and overall experience.

Develop a survey that will provide you with information for the achievement of a specific goal. For example, do you want to increase customer loyalty or sell more with each customer interaction? Only by pinpointing a particular element of your customer dealings will you learn how to actually improve. Conversely, NPS and similar metrics only allow you to track progress over time; they are limited general performance indicators. It’s the smaller elements—word choices, thoroughness of answers and the like—that are better indicators of performance, and they allow you to uncover gaps and opportunities.

For example, imagine asking a customer to score an interaction with one of your Communicators on a scale of one to 10. The customer rates the interaction a six. What does that tell you about your Communicator that you can actually improve upon? Nothing. Imagine the better insights you’d gain from instead asking whether the customer found the Communicator to be polite, thorough in resolving the issue or knowledgeable. With responses to these sorts of inquiries, you’d be armed to address the underlying factors that inspired the mediocre performance rating.

Align your goals, metrics and methods so that they complement each other. Once you’ve captured the nuances of the customer experience, you’ll be in a good place to fix anything that’s amiss. Next steps can include coaching, training workshops or workplace forums. Don’t miss out on opportunities to improve customer service. Brand loyalty and bottom line gains will be your reward.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Protocols and Etiquette for Texting in the Contact Center

In a world of ever-changing technology, your contact center should be avidly looking to implement the “latest and greatest.” With a new generation of customers, the millennials, comes a new preferred channel of communication, text messages.

Texting, also known as Short Message Service (SMS), is perfectly positioned to explode in demand within contact centers. SMS text messages have a phenomenal open rate of anywhere from 82 percent to 98 percent (compare that to just 22 percent for email). These figures alone should compel businesses to optimize texting to drive business growth.

So, where did this push to communicate with brands via text messaging originate? Primarily, it grew out of common usage by non-business entities—regular everyday people—who use their omnipresent smartphones to communicate with their friends and family. Naturally, the trend started with millennials—the generation of people born between 1982 and 2000 who were raised on digital technology.

With texting as integral as it is to the lives of millennials—and many of the rest of us—it was bound to take its place in contact center communications eventually, especially since the technology to integrate the channel has been around for a while. However, texting mustn’t be introduced without first considering its impact on the entire operation—from the cost and implementation of new technology and infrastructure to staff selection and training.

Once you’ve decided to join the multitude of contact centers embracing the text channel, be sure your Communicators understand the do’s and don’ts, so they can interact successfully with customers.

Texting Protocols and Etiquette:

  • Respond quickly: Like other digital channels, such as live chat and social media, texts require a quick response time—five minutes is great, an hour the end limit—to result in successful interactions. Even if your Communicators can respond quickly to texts, it’s a good idea to provide an auto-text reply for first contacts to assure customers that their message was received and will get a prompt reply.
  • Be friendly: Use a polite, upbeat tone. Don’t be silly or sarcastic—like you are when texting with friends; be business-appropriate.
  • Spell out the process: Exchanges with customers should be efficient. Tell them exactly how to proceed and what kind of information to supply.
  • Write well: The format (160 words or less) requires that you be concise, but don’t forget to be clear. Use terminology consistently (e.g., don’t switch from “reply” to “respond”) and always provide value. The use of correct spelling and grammar is also a prerequisite—no matter how casual the medium may seem.
  • Limit number and length of texts: Take care not to inundate customers with texts (especially for marketing purposes). Also, split long texts into two or more parts—and make sure each one can stand on its own logically.
  • Allow customization: Let customers customize their texting experience. Give them options for the type and frequency of messages they’d like to receive.

When strategically integrated into your contact center, texting can enhance the overall customer experience. Remember, communicating with your audience in their desired channel is essential to your contact center’s success.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.