How to reduce call center volumes and empower your frontline agents


Most of us weren't trained to do marketing in times of a global crisis. COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on business and the economy, and the long-term consequences are still to be seen. For most organizations, reducing marketing spend was one of the first emergency measures to be taken. In fact, a recent report from eConsultancy and Marketing Week confirms that no less than 52% of large organizations are cutting their marketing budgets, and only 6% claim that they're investing more to seize the opportunity. 

The accelerated collaboration between digital marketing and customer service in 2020

In times of crisis, customers urgently seek information from businesses in all industries. To help them navigate through these challenging times, brands should make sure they are providing the necessary care and support. This isn't only vital from a customer-centricity perspective — it's essential for your bottom line. According to McKinsey, “Companies who make this shift to digital and deliver superior experiences have an opportunity to increase adoption and maintain these customer relationships after the crisis.”

It is important to note that this customer-centric approach doesn't just apply to critical times.

A few months before the COVID-19 crisis, Forrester predicted* that in 2020 marketing and customer services would have to synchronize their efforts in order to answer changing customer demands. After all, customers don't distinguish between organizational departments — they want to get what they need and it doesn't matter whether it comes from marketing, the customer experience team or the call center. It is vital that marketers seek out and collaborate with customer experience professionals and customer service teams. 

In other words: the need isn't new — the only difference is that now it's urgent.

The pressure to relieve the burden on customer service

Call center agents, social media support, and chat service teams have always been on the front lines. They see first-hand what customers need and how your brand and services are being experienced in real time. They're the first to hear praises and the first to hear complaints. They are the face and the voice of your company. For many businesses, the coronavirus crisis has placed a monumental burden on these teams, and it is becoming crucial to find ways to relieve the pressure.

From our perspective in the customer journey orchestration space, there is an opportunity in the midst of this frantic race to keep customers: marketing can activate the channels they manage and use their knowledge in data-driven marketing to help lower the volumes to the customer service department, while simultaneously improving the customer experience. 

What does an alignment between marketing and customer services look in practice?

We asked our experienced Relay42 consultants to share two of their most powerful use cases that every marketer can implement together with the support team to enhance the experience of your customers. 

Use case: How to reduce call-center volumes by personalizing the website for each visitor

In order to reduce call center volumes, you first need to know why people are calling. Start by simply asking the call center to provide you with the most popular topics agents have recorded in the past three to six months. Make a top 10 list and match these topics with the source of information that provides the answer on the website. If you identify content gaps, your communications and support teams can create articles or videos on these topics and add them as a resource on your website or blog.

Next, capture the search behavior of your website visitors and map it. This way you’ll understand the steps that your customers make before reaching the call center.

Then, create a dynamic field on your contact page that contains the digital solution with a call-to-action related to the visitor's latest search interaction. We recommend adding this field on the general contact page, just before revealing the phone number of your call center. This way, you can measure the reduction in click-throughs to the phone number as well as the click-through rate of the suggested solution. 

In order to verify that the visitors actually haven’t called, you can map the onsite behavior to the actual call center data. 

Finally, don’t forget to publish some fall-back content that can be displayed for visitors who don't have enough data yet. 

In our experience, this use case can bring up to 7.6% fewer calls to the call center.

This use case is easy to set up in a journey orchestration platform, and we can confidently say it’s a great quick win for both customers and the call center. Easy use case, big impact. 

Pro-tip: Explore the possibilities of artificial intelligence

AI models make it possible to analyze huge volumes of data coming both from the website and from your call center to predict the calls that your call center can expect. We have implemented models like this that have successfully predicted 34% of the incoming calls. 

Having insights like this gives you the upper hand by allowing you to prepare the information future visitors will need and thereby reduce further the traffic to the call center. 

Use case: Empower call center agents with next-best-action for every customer

Especially in times of crisis, many people prefer speaking directly with a call center agent, even if the answers they need are available on the website. In this case, there are still actions the marketing team can take to improve the customer experience and make the call-center more effective.

When an existing customer calls, your call center agent should already be able to see the full profile of this customer — their provided personal information, past purchases, contract expiration date — directly on their screen. However, direct access to a full customer profile doesn't translate directly to knowing which extra services to offer to that particular customer. 

We suggest building a module in your call center interface that automatically displays the most suitable extra services (or next best action) for each individual customer. 

To prepare this, your marketing team should first match the possible next best actions based on existing customer profiles. Your digital marketer can then set up rules that will automatically push the most suitable action to the specially created module in the call center interface.

This feature can be used for both providing extra services and offering a suitable upsell. For instance, your agent could inform your customer about a free service that the company is offering at the moment, like a free extra TV channel or a free energy test. 

In other cases, your marketing team might want to promote a temporary special deal, or they might need more people to create an account on their mobile app. All of these marketing and service-specific cases can be set up in a journey orchestration platform and dynamically changed to suit the needs of each customer.

Let your customer journey be your guiding light 

We're all in uncharted waters in the wake of COVID-19. The future feels uncertain for businesses and consumers alike, which is why now is the time for us to support each other. Taking this moment to focus on improving your customer journey will not only make life easier and less stressful for your customers, but it will also help your brand position itself as a champion in your market and set up your marketing and customer services for improved ROI and success moving forward. 

Looking for more inspiration on how to improve your CX? 

Check out our “Connecting offline and online” ebook and read proven examples of how to reach your customers wherever they are.

* Predictions 2020: Customer Service. Automation Remakes The Contact Center Organization, Forrester Research, October 31, 2019.