5 Tips for Reducing Customer Service Call Duration

Your call center is a critical part of the overall customer experience you provide. If you opt to outsource your call center management, you need to consider the provider’s capabilities before partnering with them – and average call duration is one of the most important metrics to consider. Generally, shorter is better. Reducing the amount of time your customers stay on the phone for customer service inquiries is a win-win. Your call center will be able to handle higher volumes, while customers save time and have a better experience. For optimal call duration, your call center or call center provider should do the following:

  1. Expand the decision-making authority of agents. Putting customers on hold to track down a supervisor to make a simple decision eats up time. Since most of these decisions involve free products or discounts, one solution is to give agents a small budget of "make-good" cash to apply toward these scenarios.
  2. Create a robust and up-to-date knowledge base on your ecommerce site that both customers and call center agents can easily access.
  3. Train agents thoroughly. Before agents start answering customer calls, they should receive a detailed overview of your company’s systems, policies, and products to enable them to quickly handle a wide variety of customer inquiries.
  4. When evaluating call quality metrics, make sure that the ability to manage hold time during calls is accounted for.
  5. Foster cooperation between departments. Sometimes, customer service agents don't have all the answers and need to put customers on hold while they reach out to the appropriate department. Take steps to ensure that agents have available and reliable contacts where necessary.

How to Leverage Customer Feedback for Strategic Improvements

Customer feedback is vital in any business or industry – after all, the customer is always right. Acting on the feedback you collect through reviews, emails, social media, and surveys not only helps you adapt to shoppers' preferences; it also shows that you value their input. Below are some of the major areas where you can use customer feedback to make improvements.

Products

Customer feedback can help shape your decision-making around merchandise strategy. While the exact approach will depend on your inventory and audience, it’s best to start broad. Start by examining overall customer sentiment according to product category to establish a baseline for expectations. As you narrow the focus of your customer feedback analysis, it’ll be easier to establish whether individual products or a whole category is underperforming. From there, you can discover if there are new SKUs you should be adding to your inventory, or if you should discontinue item/categories that aren’t meeting shoppers’ expectations.

Site usability & design

The UX of your ecommerce site can be one of the most important keys to its success – and customer feedback in this area can help you identify pain points and bottlenecks that you can address to improve usability and eliminate customer frustrations.

Customer experience

If your customer service department uses call monitoring tools, that’s an excellent resource for finding areas of the customer experience that need improvement. Reviewing customer service calls can reveal patterns or errors you may not find by manually browsing your site, such as pricing errors, frequently asked questions, or even areas where customer service reps need more training. You can also assess your customer experience by analyzing product return codes to look for common themes (this can also be useful for shaping your merchandise strategy).

The Benefits of Call Center Outsourcing

Customer service call centers provide ecommerce businesses with a number of benefits. You need a call center – no question. However, you may not need to manage call center services internally. While an internal call center comes with some nice advantages in terms of flexibility and control, a partnership with a qualified provider also has perks that might be a better fit. In this post, we'll discuss a few of the benefits you can get through call center outsourcing. 

Cost savings

For many small to midsize companies, staffing and managing an internal call center can be challenging and costly. Unless you're selling highly technical products that require in-depth knowledge, the operational expenses may not be worthwhile. Conversely, an outsourced call center helps you avoid the costs of capital investments such as quality call monitoring systems, scheduling software, chat support integration with your website, etc. You can also save on the costs associated with recruiting, training and retaining call representatives – which really comes in handy during your peak season. Speaking of which…

Seasonal flexibility    

Because of their established focus on providing customer service, a good call center should be able to handle the higher volume of calls during your peak seasons without straining your budget or internal team.

Faster growth

If an outside partner is handling your call center functions, you're free to focus on the core components of your business. Outsourcing your call center allows you dedicate more bandwidth to developing products, customer acquisition, marketing campaigns and other growth initiatives.

Choosing whether to manage a call center on your own or outsource will ultimately depend on the nuances of your business. However, it's worth considering the cost-effective benefits of collaborating with call center service providers. To learn more about the call center services provided through Fulfillment Works, contact us today.

Easy Ideas for Customer Retention

Whatever product or service your company offers, keeping customers engaged and coming back to your site is critical for ecommerce success. Customers remain loyal to brands that treat them well, but even more so to companies that implement memorable tactics to keep them happy. Below are some easy ideas that can go a long way toward leaving a good impression on your customers.
    

Educate

You don't need to be pushing a sale every time you communicate with your customers. Sharing content related to your products or industry can provide your customers with helpful information for purchasing decisions. By establishing your company as a source of authoritative information, you also build up your trust and reputation among customers.

Create helpful offers

Go beyond the run-of-the-mill discounts and think of special offers that improve the purchase experience, rather than just trying to make a sale. What sets you apart from the competition? Do your product margins grant you the flexibility to give away free gifts with orders? Are there ways you can simplify the decision to purchase (like offering free returns or special warranties)? To come up with a promotion that works for your situation, consider the interests of your customers, the products you sell, and the logistics of your company.

Be approachable

Keeping a professional tone with your customers doesn’t mean all communication needs to feel scripted. Remember, messages that actually have a “human touch” to them will go a long way toward making your brand memorable and encouraging repeat business.

Say 'thank you'

Sending a thank you welcomes new customers to your site, and is a reminder of your expert service to returning customers. To encourage repeat business, offer a coupon or shipping discount on their next order. Consider also sending thank you emails/discounts when customers complete other actions on your website, like signing up for your newsletter.

Communicating your Shipping & Returns Policies

There are LOTS of moving parts under the hood of a well-oiled ecommerce operation. Try as you might, unpredictable situations are bound to occur. To help customers with common questions, have your shipping and returns policies outlined on your website. In most cases, an FAQ-style page allows you to clearly state your policies in a format that customers will understand.
    
When developing this content, your customer service staff should be able to provide frequently asked questions that are specific to your business. At minimum, you’ll want to address the following general areas:

Shipment lead time

Most online customers assume that their orders ship out the same or next day. If your average lead times don't fall into that timeframe, you should explicitly state how long it takes an order to ship. Otherwise, you may see a higher number of calls from customers asking about their order status.  

Military addresses

Military destinations require customs forms for deliveries and restrict on the types of items they will accept. Plus, not all carriers deliver to military addresses. Clarify whether you ship to military addresses, which products are eligible for military delivery, the carrier used for military shipments, and any additional rules or restrictions.

Undeliverable orders

Packages can be returned as undeliverable if the address is wrong or incomplete, or if the recipient refuses to accept delivery. Make sure your customers understand that it takes time to process packages that are returned as undeliverable - which can impact how long it takes to re-ship or issue a refund.