More often than not, the first point of contact that a customer or client will have with your business is by phone call. Part of every organization’s customer service strategy begins with support, an efficient phone system - and a satisfactory calling experience, so this is where you get to make a great first impression.
The most effective way to avoid even one bad customer experience is to create a call management system with a well designed, intuitive call flow. So let's get started.
What is a call flow?
One way to describe the call flow process is to think of it as a type of road map that illustrates how a call flows or travels within your organization’s phone system. Once a call is made to your phone number (or phone numbers), call flows chart the call’s journey and route calls from the first menu to the end of the call. Call flows plan exactly what customers will experience when they make first contact, and also show what will happen if lines are busy, unanswered, or misdirected.
Below is a very basic example of what call flow diagrams look like:
Depending on the industry, and the size or nature of your organization’s contact center, call flows can be extremely advanced and can be designed to handle complex call scenarios.
Why a successful call flow is important for your contact center
Everyone has been on the customer side of business phone call, so the frustration with being on hold for extraordinary lengths of time, or being misdirected, or simply dropping out, needs no further description.
A bad early experience can create a lasting impression, and a lost client is almost impossible to get back. According to Forbes research, you only have 7 seconds to make a good first impression, so an intuitively designed call flow allows you the ideal place to start.
First Call Resolution (FCR)
Customers want support, and to have their needs taken care of quickly. The last thing they want is to have to repeat information they've already supplied to multiple agents. So, FCR is one of the most important steps to customer satisfaction. To determine whether your contact center is offering quality customer service, you need to take an in-depth look at your call center metrics. According to data collected by The Ascent Group, you can improve your call center performance by up to 30% just by measuring your FCR for a year.
There’s no doubt that cloud-based technologies are set to be the way of the future. To increase efficiency, contact centers are moving forward and embracing modern technology, leaving clunky, inefficient traditional on-site PBX systems behind.
Another way to increase efficiency is to reduce staff turnover. Keeping a solid team helps reduce training time and costs and helps to monitor productivity in the longer term. Some ways to hold on to valuable agents include:
- Engaging and monitoring regularly
- Encouraging onboarding and coaching
- Fostering honest and open communication
- Offering ongoing learning, skill building and development
- Setting goals outside of everyday responsibilities
Measuring, metrics and monitoring
Efficiency and effectiveness need to align with an organization’s metrics and associated goals clearly and concisely. Each representative needs to know what the metric is, as well as how and why it’s being measured. Every goal needs to be transparent so that everyone on the team can contribute to reaching milestones, and as a result, improve call satisfaction.
Designing the ideal call flow
Planning call flows can be time-consuming, because no two calls are alike. There are hundreds of questions that may be asked, depending on each individual case. When you route calls, the key is to consider the maximum number of possible scenarios to keep the caller engaged so that they can expect the best result possible.
Here are some call flow examples to consider when designing your call flow:
- Will the attendant be automated (voice message), live - or both?
- What items will be included on an auto-attendant voice menu
- Will the caller have 24/7 access to an representative?
- What are the most common calls, questions or requests?
- What process will be used when you can’t answer the question on the initial call
Scheduled call routing occurs before the receiver picks up the call. Incoming calls are placed in a queue, then routed to the specific representative or department, based on pre-established rules and criteria. Routing can be established by user prompts, and call attributes like call volume, department or representative availability, language support etc.
Implementing call flows
Depending on the needs of both business and customer, call flows can have any number of components. After navigating the automated component of the call flow, and reaching a live representative, a typical pattern would include:
Greeting – the initial engagement with customers, which sets the tone for the entire call.
Authentication – it’s essential for security purposes to check and confirm that you are speaking with the right person, and this goes further than simply name and date of birth.
The call driver – the agent needs to establish quickly why the person is calling.
Empathy – after establishing the driver, the attendant should use expressions of empathy and aim to resolve any problems they are experiencing.
Transition – The agent determines the reason for the call and can select the right path to resolve the issue.
Troubleshooting – This is where the problem solving begins and can take many different paths depending on the driver of the call.
Monitor, troubleshoot and resolve contact center issues in real time
Contact centers utilize a mixture of technologies to address different channels of communications, which means they are often faced with a complex environment. In an increasingly digital and automated world, customers enter your business via a contact center, where the opening human interactions begin on the phone. High uptime and fast problem resolution have never been more vital.
This can only be achieved with third-party performance management tools. With IR’s Collaborate suite of solutions you can get end-to-end visibility of your entire contact center environment from a single pane of glass.
No matter what vendor you use, your phone system would have self-monitoring tools, which are designed to monitor that system, but nothing outside of that. With IR’s Collaborate solutions for Contact Center, you get comprehensive monitoring that focuses on how all components of the contact center fit together. Independent research firm Nemertes Research found that organizations using third party solutions for monitoring and troubleshooting their phone systems enjoy a host of benefits in comparison to those who don't, including halving UCC operational costs.