Streamlining your CRM will please your customers—and your agents

“Hold on just one moment,” the customer service agent says.

You can hear their fingers tapping. Long moments of silence go by. Two minutes pass and customers are left wondering what could possibly be taking so long. Are they playing Minecraft?

We’ve all been there. Customer service agents sound so eager to help at the beginning of a phone call; then once it’s go time, they’re sluggish. You’re finally sharing your personal details and getting down to business—shouldn’t this be when they perk up?! You’ve already been on hold for 15 minutes, and once you’re finally on the call, it seems to go by just as slowly.

There’s a reason why customer service professionals sound eager to be at their jobs. That’s because, for the most part, they really are. A recent report by Squelch found that 97 percent of customer service workers find satisfaction in their work and, for more than half, it’s a long-term career choice.

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However, these professionals are just as frustrated by the slowdowns as customers are.

The agents in the Squelch study shared that multichannel platforms and software are bogging them down. Surprisingly, 93 percent reported needing to use multiple channels to solve a new problem. That means every time a customer calls in with an issue that the agent is unfamiliar with, the customer service workers have to toggle between tabs and platforms and say those dreaded words: “Hold on one moment please.”

To combat this problem, many respondents said they create their own personal cheat sheet just so they wouldn’t have to dig inefficiently for the information they need.

And to think that all they need is a streamlined CRM solution that merge seamlessly regardless of channel, from voice calls to in-app chats to website messaging.

In the real world, the problems created by complex, multichannel systems are compounding. Customers wait longer on calls, causing those on hold to wait even longer. Once they finally get to an agent, they’re already primed to be in a bad mood. They’re even shorter-tempered with customer service reps than they otherwise might be. This causes the once optimistic customer service agent to doubt their career choice.

Disruption requires a new, streamlined CRM

Contact centers are in the middle of a massive disruption. Customer-centric online support efforts mean that, for a company to stay competitive, they have to connect with customers where they are, rather than providing the solutions that are simplest for the company. It’s a customer-first mentality to match the digital era. Customers will compare your service with others based on the overall experience, and not hesitate to use social media to air their grievances.

According to Dimension Data, digital channel planning was set to increase over 2017. To keep with current trends, contact centers will need to have the ability to support their products through multiple channels, including chat, mobile, and social media

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With the increasing complexity of our communications channels, customer service agents need a solution that seamlessly unites their data. They shouldn’t have to close out of a social media conversation to access the web chat platform and discover a customer’s buying history.

Despite this, only 36 percent of contact centers can track a journey that spans channels, according to IBM.

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Clearly, customer service workers need a better solution—a streamlined CRM—that matches their enthusiasm for the job. As it is, their tools and software are only getting in the way of doing their job.

If your agents are asking for a more elegant interface, try using UJET’s mobile-first design. The tools enable customer support workers to seamlessly ask the customer for a screenshot of, say, an error message, allowing them to waste no time gathering the information they need to do their jobs well. To verify a customer’s identity, they can use current tools such as iPhone’s Face ID to speed up the call and feel confident in their efficiency and their jobs.

 

Please impatient customers

While the way we communicate is only becoming increasingly complex, customers also have higher expectations for wait times. Technology has introduced complications into the ways that businesses manage their conversations and data, but for customers, instant gratification has raised their standards for response times.

In 2017, a study by Arise found that two-thirds of respondents would wait for two minutes, but thirteen percent said that no wait time is acceptable.

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As technologies become even more complex for customer service departments to manage, those same technologies are increasing customers’ expectations for timely responses and solutions.

The Twittersphere also gives a louder megaphone for unhappy customers to lodge their complaints into the public eye. This could turn off potential customers as well as dispirit customer service agents about their careers even more.

Here are a few representative tweets from Fonlo:

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Salesforce’s “State of the Connected Customer” report showed that 73% of consumers and 78% of business buyers are extremely or very likely to switch brands if they receive inconsistent levels of service.

An efficient, streamlined CRM would clear up many of these issues. It would bring down wait times by increasing call efficiency and create a more consistent experience across platforms.

One easy tip? To smooth out the customer’s journey, use UJET to integrate across all of your customer touchpoints. That way, regardless of whether the customer makes their initial contact through a chatbot, a phone call, or email, customer support agents will be working from the same set of information and history about that customer. The user will have a consistent support experience, every time, from every device.

Retain customer service enthusiasts

Customer service workers are an optimistic, friendly bunch. They typically come into the career young. A majority start in the industry as their first job.

Their primary motivation? To help people, according to the Squelch study.

 

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A streamlined CRM solution could alleviate the things they dislike about the job. The top two things respondents said they don’t like:

1. Customers take their problems out on them.

2. Customer service gets blamed even when it isn’t their fault.

One can imagine that the reps are often blamed for taking so long to respond to problems or unable to find the answers primarily because of a disjointed CRM system.

In imagining a brighter future, the respondents knew how they would improve their systems. Here are the capabilities within their dream, streamlined CRM, in order of popularity:

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To address agents' number one request—accessing customer account information regardless of channel—companies will need to integrate seamlessly with a number of different services. Regardless of where a customer contacts you—phone, chat, online—agents need to see the history of all of the customer's interactions with the company. This why an integrated CRM is so important.

In a better world, customer service agents won't be hindered by their tools, they will be empowered by them. Instead of calming angry customers, agents would more often hear those words that attracted them to the industry:

“Thank you for helping me.”