How to maintain positive customer experiences in times of high demand

By Patrick Nash

In the week that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has announced that it is to close 281 of its face-to-face enquiry centres, 2 million extra calls to are expected to be made to the HMRC helpline. Here, I suggest the best ways for contact centres to ensure positive customer experiences when face with increased service demand.

Every contact centre must remember that its users are of the upmost importance, and maintaining a positive customer experience is imperative even when under considerable pressure.

Even before this week’s announcement of the HMRC closures, the National Audit Office (NAO) found that more than 50,000 calls to HMRC went unanswered. For customers that did get through, wait times were on average around four minutes. Most contact centres would agree that this is too long to wait, and too expensive, for users requiring advice or assistance.

So how can contact centres manage higher call volumes whilst ensuring that they maintain a positive customer experience ?

Investing in technology

Most contact centres use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, but they may not be aware of the potential gains that can be achieved from investing in a system which provides users with greater choice in how they contact your service.

CRM systems used at their best can considerably reduce time spent on processes that can be fully automated, such as switchboard management – ensuring that calls automatically presented to a free member of staff. Equally, text message management can guarantee that SMS texts are automatically sent, records are made and then stored and linked to customer profiles.

By reducing time spent on administrative tasks or less complex cases, the helpline and its most valuable asset, the advisors, are free to support those most in need.

Integrate digital channels

Integrated digital channels ensure that customers have the ability to access information online in order to self-help. This increases the reach of the contact centre as a limitless amount of users can access help simultaneously, at no extra cost for the centre.

A fully integrated digital service can also include web chat where users can directly receive help and advice from employees at the contact centre through an instant messaging system. Systems should be able to monitor users behaviour and choices on the website at all times to ensure that they can also proactively begin a web chat conversation with a user, as well as responding to enquiries.

Incorporate social media into your CRM model

As the influence of social media continues to grow in everyday life, this should be no different for your contact centre.

By embracing social media, contact centres can communicate with their customers directly in a medium that is familiar to them.

And with social media fully integrated into your CRM model, all conversations with each user can be automatically recorded and stored within the customers profile on the system.

Further, social media can be used to search further for users in need of help and advice, and again, this process can be automated to suit your contact centre’s needs.

Next steps

As you can see, integration is the key to the success of a contact centre, ensuring that all customer contact is stored in once place and  is easily accessible.

It is also imperative to ensure that staff are not consistently performing repetitive administrative tasks that could easily be automated. This allows your workforce to focus its attention on those requiring the most help ensuring best customer service at all times.

If you require any further information about enhancing your contact centre’s service delivery, please visit:

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