Reducing the Cost of Your Customer Service
Learn how to reduce costs without sacrificing your customer experience
August 3rd, 2020
Cutting costs can sometimes be a bit of a headache. What can you cut without making another part of your operation suffer? It seems like an impossible scenario, but it doesn’t have to be. There are some big dos and don’ts that can help put you on the right track.
WHAT TO AVOID
Offshoring your customer service can often save you money but, as with most things, you get what you pay for. Offshoring is often synonymous with poor quality customer service. If a customer isn’t being pushed between three different departments, they’re struggling with language barriers, or simply can’t get the answer they’re looking for because the advisor just doesn’t know.
It’s always a better bet to source your customer care advisors within your own country. After all, better paid employees will be happier, translating to harder workers. And, better yet, outsourcing can save you money without all the risks that offshoring poses.
A good outsourcer will work alongside your company, not independently. They will train their staff to be part of your team, to consider themselves as part of your staff. A good outsourcer will help improve your customer care solution whilst still helping you cut costs.
Reducing Hours or Advisors
It can be tempting to reduce your customer service hours as a quick fix for cutting costs. And it’s true, this will save money by reducing the amount you need to pay staff. But, there are also inherent risks.
First and foremost is your team. Cutting down on your staff can overwork your team. If they have to deal with more contacts to pick up the slack, you risk leaving your team feeling stressed and frustrated. Similarly, reducing your hours doesn’t actually mean you’re reducing your contacts. Customers will still contact you out of hours however they can, meaning your staff have to deal with those contacts when they do come online.
Reducing your hours can also frustrate your customers. If they can’t get in touch with you, or if they’re waiting a long time in a queue, customers may end up leaving a negative review and may even consider switching brands.
And when your advisors are online, you might still see your customer satisfaction scores suffer if you've reduced your staff.
Overworked staff can’t give each customer the attention they need and deserve from your brand. Advisors would be more likely
to give short, unhelpful responses in an attempt to find a quick solution and move onto the next interaction.
If anything, you should be increasing your hours instead of reducing them. So how do you do that effectively without paying more for it?
HOW TO REDUCE CUSTOMER SERVICE COSTS
Use One System
Migrating to one system is a great way to cut down expenses. It’s very easy to get tangled up in using multiple systems. One system for internal communication, one for customer management, etc. But using several systems can actually become more expensive than using one system that does it all for you. Not only can you cut down on user license costs, you can also improve efficiency and reduce your costs even further.
You can use software like Gnatta to display all the relevant information your advisors need in one platform. It can also call external data such as order information and display it within the same UI. All of this can eliminate the amount of time your advisors spend switching between tabs or software to find relevant information.
By saving those precious seconds for each interaction, you can improve operator efficiency, contacts per hour, and even resolution times, all of which accumulates into cost reductions.
Automating any repetitive tasks and processes is especially helpful in customer care where small improvements can result in huge impacts. Introducing automation can seem like a costly and invasive venture. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Automation ultimately saves you money and, as long as you choose the right partner, it doesn’t have to be disruptive to your operation.
In fact, introducing automation can vastly improve the working lives of your advisors. By removing the need to complete tasks such as data collection, reporting, and even requesting surveys/reviews, you free up your advisors’ time to focus on providing the best customer experience possible. And that’s the best part of working as a customer care advisor; getting to help the customers!
Implementing automation can start with something like a simple chatbot to collect data. Chatbots can ask all of the necessary,
repetitive questions that are needed to gather information about the customer and their reason for contact. Using a chatbot means that by the time the customer reaches the advisor, the advisor already has all the information they need to provide a quick first-time resolution, wowing the customer in the process.
All of these things, like the point above, lead to an uptick in efficiency and, ultimately, will save you money.
Streamline Your Processes
Streamlining your processes can be covered a lot by automating and reducing the number of systems you’re using. But it can also come down to the operator level.
Empower your advisors to be able to complete processes that would otherwise be completed by their seniors. This can include things like offering refunds or to replace a product.
If the order is less than a certain amount (e.g. less than £25), there is no reason that you shouldn’t be giving control to your advisors to automatically grant these requests. Promo code not working? Don’t make the customer come back to refund the difference, empower your advisors to offer a private code once they’ve confirmed the problem.
Don’t be afraid to tackle streamlining in detail. Analyse each of your processes to decide if they’ve grown too complex. Sometimes something as simple as laying them all down in a process map can make things much clearer. A visual can be an easy way of seeing which processes have too many steps and could be streamlined.
Whilst giving your advisors more control may require additional training, it does also mean that your supervisor/management team will have more time to focus on other things. Supervisors have more time to focus on keeping your operation running smoothly and helping advisors with difficult interactions. And management can help improve overall efficiency with more time to look at the big picture.
With everyone on the team focused on what they need to be focused on, your operation can start to see improvements.
Train the Best, Be the Best
Reducing overheads can be as simple as refining your training process. As we’ve seen in the points above, the efficiency of your team plays a huge role. You can streamline everything else but if your team aren’t properly trained or motivated, then you’ll still not see the full effects.
Training should be seen as a continuous development, not a one-time thing. Humans adapt and evolve over time and will always be learning new things. Giving your team a short training period and then never revisiting that training can lead to stagnation and low productivity. And it isn’t the advisor’s fault! They simply don’t have the tools they need to continue to improve.
Consider introducing refresher training, especially if any processes have changed since your staff were last trained. Use wikis and
information banks so your staff always have something to refer back to. With software like Gnatta, you can add little pop-up notes at specific parts of an interaction, just as guiding reminders. And, most importantly, be flexible. Let your advisors take training at their own pace to maximise their learning.
Even with the best trained team, motivation is still key. Make sure to measure your contacts per hour but don’t forsake speed for satisfaction. There is a balance between the most contacts it’s possible to take whilst still keeping your customers happy. Once you know where your sweet spot is, introduce rewards and incentives to your team. You can even set them at an individual level, so everyone feels like they have a chance to get a reward for working hard. Motivating your team is a sure-fire way to help improve production and efficiency.
FIND YOUR BALANCE
So those are the most important dos and don’ts of reducing customer service costs. Hopefully, they’ll help you make some decisions for your own business. Ultimately, the most important thing is finding that balance between cost, efficiency, and quality of service. Too far in either direction and you risk upsetting customers and costing yourself more money in the long run. If you’d like to chat more about how FM Outsource can help you with cost reduction, contact us here.