If you’re managing a call center or leading a customer service team, an agent shortage is probably one of the top 3 challenges keeping you up at night. Instead of focusing on strategic business initiatives, you find yourself stuck in the non-stop operational wheel of hiring, training, and retaining your service agents. At the same time, demand keeps growing and your existing customer service and sales teams are at maximum capacity, leading to burnout that can be very costly to your business.
You’re not alone — turnover in the customer service industry increased from 50% to 80% during the Covid-19 pandemic. With fewer talented agents available, customer service times have tripled, leaving call center managers overloaded with calls, but short of agents. To solve your agent shortage, you need to change the way you’re managing your customer communications. The following best practices help deliver great CX, supporting your business growth without hiring new agents.
Calling all agents! Where are they?
20% of the US workforce plan to leave a job in 2022. Some of these millions of job-leavers will be in search of more secure and stable work environments — a trend we saw begin as the “Great Resignation” phenomena post-COVID. Looking at call center staff in particular, though, maybe it’s due to increased customer expectations.
70% of call center leaders say their agents are encountering more emotionally charged customers; nobody wants to deal with angry customers. And let’s not forget the change in hiring demographics: Gen Z employees are about 12% of the US workforce but damn, they are hard to retain! 48% of Gen Z workers said they would quit a job they don’t like, and 50% said they want a work-life balance.
CommBox 50-50™ rule to transform your customer communications
Before diving into customer communications best practices and the key to solving your agent shortage challenge, try to answer these two simple questions (Don’t worry, nobody is listening):
1. What percentage of your customer inquiries are served in digital native channels? (WhatsApp, Messenger, SMS, Chat).
2. What percentage of these calls diverted to digital channels are automated?
If your answer to both of these questions is less than 50%, then you have a huge opportunity to innovate and transform the way you communicate with customers today. And hey, if you do so, you won’t have an employee shortage problem anymore.
5 simple steps to apply CommBox 50-50™ rule and massively shift to digital
Here’s a stat that should convince you of the need to digitize your CX approach: the average customer will abandon a call if they hold for more than 2-3 minutes. Adopting digital communication allows you to handle multiple customer requests faster while shortening your waiting times. Plus, you can reach more customers. A survey revealed that 77% of consumers use native texting apps on their phones, making digital channels the best way to reach them.
So how do you do it?
1. Route inbound calls from IVR to digital channels
Cut waiting times and overloads by motivating customers to shift to digital at a press of a button. Routing calls to digital channels allows your agents to manage multiple conversations at once, so you’ll have the same number of agents, but at least double the productivity.
2. Text with customers to turn abandoned calls into conversations
Maximize your customer engagement by texting callers with a link to reach your agents digitally. Diverting abandoned calls to digital through text messages will minimize your call abandonment rate and let customers communicate with you naturally through the channels they love most, wherever and whenever it’s convenient for them.
3. Shift your notifications to digital channels
Message customers regarding updates and let them engage with your business digitally. You can set automated campaigns and send promotional messages, notify customers regarding a product recall, or reward customers with loyalty points. One way to notify customers is WhatsApp campaigns, an automated marketing tool available on CommBox’s digital customer communications platform.
4. Move marketing to instant messaging
Shift your marketing efforts from physical ads and cold calls to instant messaging and reach customers on their favorite digital channels. You can promote your products by running marketing campaigns through messaging apps like WhatsApp, which has an average open rate of 98%.
5. Text back (instead of automatic callback)
Send a link to contact your agents on native digital channels customers normally use (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, SMS, Google, or any other).
Once you’ve implemented these 5 steps, you’ll be able to shift 50% of your customer communications to digital and hire fewer agents. This will help you handle your agent shortage and retention challenges at some level.
But if you want to take your customer communications to the next level and build a happy, productive call center team, then it’s time to go beyond human boundaries by combining the human touch with artificial intelligence. In other words: automate what you can, whenever you can, by taking 3 extra steps.
Identify the top 3 common issues to automate by analyzing inbound calls
What are the top three issues your agents encounter? It’s time to prioritize these issues and work out how to solve them at scale. Prioritization will focus your attention on your most time-consuming tasks, so you can automate them.
Automate your top 3 Issues with AI Chatbots
Let chatbots do the repetitive work for you. Chatbots can handle various tasks such as answering FAQs, IT support, shipping tracking, refunds & exchanges, etc. Using an omnichannel chatbot is critical, as it allows you to offer a unified self-service experience across multiple channels and cut your repetitive work even more.
Route unresolved interactions to human agents
Maximize your team’s efficiency by focusing call center agents on just the complex tasks that require a human touch. Empower them to be there for your customers when they need it most and you’ll have satisfied customers as well as satisfied staff.
The bottom line
By 2030, 85 million workers will be in shortage around the globe. This coming shortage will widely affect call centers that mainly rely on human agents. But you can solve your agent shortage now by adopting our best practices.
Solve your call center agent shortage with commbox
CommBox is an AI-powered omnichannel communication platform that enables customer service and sales teams to seamlessly engage with customers on their preferred channels. Using AI and chatbots, CommBox facilitates automation across all touchpoints — delivering personalized customer experiences and helping businesses shift from a cost center to a digital growth center at scale.
Now’s your chance to solve your call center’s agent shortage.
Schedule a demo with a CommBox expert, and let us show you how.