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2 November 2015

Operational efficiency in contact centres with SMS

The contact centre industry is evolving as it responds to changes in the global business environment. Economic pressures, new technologies, increased competition and customer behaviour are all affecting the landscape.

CRM magazine explored the main goals for contact centres and found that across the board, contact centres are looking for ways to reduce costs and improve operational efficiency, reduce telephone demand and implement lower cost channels, especially for managing inbound service enquiries.

One of the best ways to reduce inbound calls is to make sure customers don’t have a reason to call. Contact is often made when customers are confused or unsure as to what is going to happen when, or to check what is going on.

A survey by Harvard Business Review found that 57 percent of inbound calls came from customers who first attempted to resolve their issue on the company’s website and failed. The business either didn’t provide a self-service solution, the customer found it too difficult to find or use, or the solution didn’t address their particular need.

For many organisations, these calls could be reduced through implementing a proactive customer communication program that delivers relevant and timely information.

Understanding why and when your customers call is an important place to start when planning such a program, as caller profiles differ from industry to industry.

One low cost channel to market for proactive customer communication is SMS. As a communication tool, SMS is immediate, non-intrusive and interactive.

Using SMS to proactively contact customers will not only reduce the volume of inbound calls into a contact centre, it also delivers a higher level of customer service to your customers because you are providing the answer before they have even thought of the question.

Doug Inman, Head of IT, Youi, said they are very focused on providing excellent customer service via SMS: “We rely heavily on the use of SMS when communicating with existing or potential clients, with thousands of SMS messages sent daily.”

Customers are very familiar with SMS technology and the ease with which they can respond to an SMS creates an instant and interactive conversation. Many people also find SMS easier than calling and benefit from the zero wait time. This results in additional benefits including reduced agent handling time. It also frees up your contact centre staff to focus on revenue generating activity, or gives them more time to handle more complex customer service issues.

A number of cost benefits can also result from introducing a proactive SMS communication program into a contact centre including lower telephone bills, as well as reduced printing and postage costs because an SMS will eradicate the need for a printed mailer.

Overall, SMS has the ability to deliver the combined advantages of improved productivity, customer retention and reduced operating expenses.

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