At one time or another, you’ve probably called a company’s toll-free customer service number to ask a question or maybe even lodge a complaint. But have you ever been on the receiving end of one of those calls? It can be stressful. Call center employees can sometimes feel like they’re on the front lines, dealing with the pressure of fielding dozens upon dozens of customer calls during a single shift.
Often, the same questions are asked, day in and day out. And the same answers are given, day in and day out. It can become quite repetitive. While some calls can be handled quickly, others are more complex and take longer to resolve. Watching the minutes tick by as a conversation runs longer than expected can cause anxiety as the call time exceeds the ideal range set by the organization.
And on the other end of the line, the impression a customer forms after their conversation takes place will influence, if not determine, their opinion of the company. First impressions are powerful. As the initial point of contact with an organization, call centers are an integral part of a business’s identity. Not only in terms of customer satisfaction, but in the larger scope of public relations.
In this age of rapid communication, a compliment, but more likely a complaint, can go viral and circle the globe in a matter of minutes. A particularly disgruntled customer combined with the power of the internet means a once private matter can make the rounds of social media sites and be posted, shared, tagged and tweeted at head-dizzying speeds. For some companies, a prickly customer issue can be one that is handled quickly and privately or one that snowballs and turns into a public relations nightmare.
Respond to customers faster with business texting software
Call center representatives excel at explaining product features, upselling services, accessing account information, conducting financial transactions and, as noted above, answering a lot of questions. The role also requires that they resolve as many issues as possible while keeping the call-drop rate low—a challenging task when customers are expected to wait on hold for extended periods of time.
Agents also need to navigate their way through multiple software systems, meet SLA (service-level agreement) times, deal with peak call volumes and juggle multiple inquiries at once. While texting for business software can’t take away all these challenges, it can certainly alleviate many of them.
Unlike traditional phone calls, Zipwhip’s Texting for Business™ software allows call center representatives to juggle multiple inquiries at once for increased productivity.
While the general benefits of business texting may seem apparent (convenience, streamlined communications, increased automation and notifications), a call center employee may feel they already have too many programs to manage, or there isn’t enough time to learn a new one. Or, maybe they already use a chat feature that integrates with the phone system and wonder why their company should adopt business texting software on top of that.
Granted, online chat is a helpful tool that lets two parties communicate quickly, but why settle for the bare minimum? Business texting software ensures that security, privacy and compliance standards are met. It also includes valuable productivity tools that save time and cut down on repetitive daily tasks by offering:
- Scheduled Messages
- Group Texting Capabilities
- Reusable Text Templates
- SMS and Picture Texting (MMS)
- Keyword Triggered Auto Replies
- Access to Unlimited Contacts
- Reporting Tools for Customer Analytics
Assist multiple customers simultaneously with text messaging
A call center representative can only speak to one customer at a time while on the phone, but the same person could respond to questions from multiple users who contact the department by text. Talking on the phone used to be the fastest and most effective form of communication, but the tide is turning as more consumers choose texting as their preferred method of connecting. Texting is faster than calling a company. It’s also more discreet because nobody else can hear what’s being said, and it’s the most convenient because customers can access the texting app on their phone from nearly anywhere.
Today, many call centers employ millennials and younger staffers who use texting almost exclusively to communicate with friends and family compared to email and phone. They see the benefit of sending texts as a quick and effective method for staying in touch, a tool that could be beneficial in their jobs as well. But they’re not usually the ones in their company choosing which software to use. Our 2019 State of Texting report found that 70% of employees whose companies do not text but who see the value in it, don’t have buying or recommendation power for software.
Time is money when it comes to talking on the phone.
It’s not just employees’ time and skill that companies are
paying for, it’s the cost of the telephone calls themselves.
A challenge for call centers is decreasing cost without sacrificing the quality of their support services. The expense of long-distance calls is a major reason why running a call center is so costly. The longer a customer is on the phone, the more the company spends to assist them. With business texting software, costs are lower because multiple customers can be helped in the same amount of time as one phone call. Not to mention, asking customers to wait while a customer service representative finishes speaking with another caller can take its toll. On-hold fatigue is real. Companies need to ask themselves if making customers wait for them is the best solution. Don’t let your customers hang up and go to a competitor.
Smart solutions: consumers want more businesses to text them
Texting saves time, but more importantly it’s also the method of communication customers prefer. A Zipwhip survey found that 73% of consumers want more businesses to text them. Customers of all ages, from Baby Boomers to Generation Z, like the ease, convenience and privacy that texting offers.
Text messaging should be an added resource for call centers, not a replacement for phone calls. It can provide customers with additional options to receive assistance. Sending a text message rather than calling a customer back and possibly having to leave a voicemail can speed up the issue resolution process. Did you know that 81% of consumers feel frustrated being tied to a call or computer when they need customer service? And when customers text you, there’s clear documentation of the communication. This allows the representative to track the conversation, so customers don’t have to explain an issue repeatedly when transferred within the department or if they call back in the future.
Best practices and use cases for call centers
Texting eliminates delays caused by playing phone tag, which can lead to multiple voicemails, and that can drag out the customer engagement time. Call center agents can use texting to be proactive and notify customers of service changes, reaffirm agreements, or shorten calls by letting customers know that they will be sending a text with the information they need. There are so many ways to incorporate text messaging into a company’s processes. Below are a few examples of texting best practices that call centers can utilize:
- Follow up calls with personalized texts to resolve escalated situations.
- Update your phone system’s on-hold message to let customers know they can also text.
- Create Auto Reply texts to address most frequently asked questions.
- Use Templates to create messages that can be sent again and again to improve workflow.
- Send Group Texts using Dynamic Fields to customize the message for each recipient.
- Schedule outbound texts to arrive during non-peak hours to spread out the workload.
- Use MMS (multimedia) texts to send pictures of documents to expedite issue resolution.
Reduce call center stress levels
Company call centers are a hub of activity, with employees carrying on a multitude of conversations at the same time. That can be distracting for fellow employees and customers who can often overhear other conversations in the background. Working in such an energetic environment can be draining.
Business texting increases productivity and reduces stress levels by bringing the noise volume way down. Agents can text from their desktop or laptop computer using an intuitive user interface. Taking off the headset and “hanging up the phone” in favor of typing on a keyboard is a welcome relief and can help customer service representatives focus better on the task at hand.
In the end, we all just want to be heard. Texting provides a fast, affordable and convenient way for consumers and companies to communicate. Letting customers know that you value their time and are responding to their inquiry promptly will go a long way toward securing a positive customer experience.
Learn more about how you can adopt text messaging for call centers and customer service departments by downloading our free e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Texting Your Customers.