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The Diverse Challenges Faced in Council Contact Centres

A council contact centre can face many challenges on the road to providing exceptional customer experience.

In the run-up to its 18th annual Government Contact Centre Summit, scheduled to be held in Sydney on 28 and 29 August, conference organiser IQPC released a promotional case study to examine these typical roadblocks, and the steps that can be taken to overcome them: How one local council is taking a Customer-first approach to improve first call resolution.

Communicational challenges

The council is Kingston City, and the case study is based on an interview with the council’s Customer Service Manager, Brandon Davis.

The council is responsible for an area of 91 square kilometres on the shores of Port Philip Bay in the southeastern suburbs of Melbourne. It’s home to about 150,000 people.

According to the case study, the council’s 18 seat contact centre has been implementing digital channels to make it more customer-centric and is also working to become more strategic in the way it connects with other departments and functions in the council.

This, Davis said, was a major challenge for the contact centre. “As a local council we have 40 different businesses under one umbrella,” he said.

“The challenge is that these different businesses sometimes don’t connect, interact or work as closely as they could with other parts of the organisation. Our aim is to ensure our contact centre is equipped with the tools, capabilities and telephony to ensure collaboration and communication between these business areas.”

Identifying solutions

One significant initiative in its call centre transformation journey was to invite 45 customers to share their expectations around communication and engagement, over two and a half days.

Davis has also established new standards around customer service, and to ensure these are achieved and maintained, the council has implemented monthly call coaching sessions for operators.

“[These sessions are] about listening to their calls and indicating improvements that can be made,” Davis said. “The aim of the process is to engage our staff in our objective of delivering world-class customer service and providing them with the tools to be successful.”

Beyond this, Davis says one of the biggest challenges is empowering agents to take ownership and responsibility so they can provide the best service for customers.

“It comes down to giving staff permission to take this approach, which is often the biggest challenge,” Davis said.

“We can collect the data and we can update the telephony. But if we don’t give our people permission to solve problems for the customers and provide the right answers, then it will take longer to change the outcome.”

And in a council context, these problems can be very diverse.

“Customers call about anything – from complaining about a next door neighbour’s cat walking on their car and leaving footprints; to complaining about the fact that it’s raining and their house is flooding,” Davis said.

Empowering your agents starts with the right technology

You’ve got the data, you’ve updated the telephony platform, and you’ve given your team the permission to solve problems and give the right answers. But now what?

The next and final step in empowering your agents is to ensure they’re actually equipped with the right technology, so they can find those right answers.

Here’s how you can leap the final hurdle to providing outstanding customer service, with our cloud contact centre solution Premier Contact Point (PCP).

Spend more time helping customers, not struggling with technology

With PCP’s intuitive, powerful, and flexible Agent Desktop, your agents will never again fumble with clunky and counterintuitive processes when handling a customer call. No more having to click through five different steps just to put a call on hold, or end up accidentally dropping a call when all you’re trying to do is consult with a team member to achieve a resolution. Agent Desktop was designed to allow agents to be comfortably up and running with less than an hour of training – so they can spend more time providing excellent customer service, and less time messing around with complicated technology.

Have all the answers ready, in one convenient location

At Premier Contact Point, we have over 31 years’ experience integrating PCP with other best-in-class technology. PCP can be integrated directly with the other applications that are critical to serving customers, so your agents are always prepared, and always able to help.

  • CRM/ERP integration

Is there anything worse than calling in to a contact centre, painstakingly entering all your details in the IVR, then when you’re finally connected to an agent after many minutes’ wait, they greet you with “This is John from the rates team, can I have your customer assessment number please?” What was the point of entering it in the first place?

Picture this: a customer calls your contact centre, and because PCP is integrated with your CRM system, their customer record is screen-popped straight into your agent’s desktop right before the call is connected. Your agent can greet the caller by name, see all their contact history, and possibly even already know what they’re calling about.

As a council contact centre, many of the calls you get are likely to be from already-disgruntled customers looking for a solution to any degree of frustrating problems. But something as small as greeting them by name (and especially not asking for details they’ve already given you!) is a simple yet impactful way to start the call off on the right foot.

  • Knowledge base integration

A different scenario: you’re finally connected to an agent after waiting in queue for some time. You’ve got a few questions to ask about the latest communications from your council on the changes to the hard rubbish collection process. You’re upset because this is the third time in so many years that they’ve changed protocol, and you had an intensive spring clean already planned because you’re moving home. The agent greets you by name, knows you’ve called before about this matter, and listens to your questions and complaints about it. Then they say, “Is it all right if I put you on hold for a moment while I find the answers for you?” After four minutes, you’re still on hold. Surely it can’t be that hard to find the information they should already know!

But what your customer doesn’t see is your agent getting more and more frustrated themselves because the systems you have in place for them to find answers isn’t efficient at all. They’ve got to visit a webpage, check an internal database, IM a colleague, and trawl the intranet just to answer this customer’s queries. And, as always seems to happen, one or two windows have frozen on them right at the worst moment.

PCP can also be integrated with your existing knowledge base system, accessible quickly and easily from within the Agent Desktop. Webhooks When your agents are on a call and need to search for information, there’s nothing more frustrating than having to scramble back and forth between multiple screens and programs while a customer is on the line waiting for answers.

  • Skype for Business integration

Sometimes, getting the right answers requires asking for some help.

With Skype for Business integration, agents can quickly consult with a colleague in the organisation to obtain a resolution for a customer. They’ll instantly see who’s busy or who’s available to help out, and from there, easily reach out via voice or IM.

Make it as easy as possible for your team to speak with the right people when they need to, and maximise your chances of achieving your First Call Resolution KPIs.

The 2018 Contact Centre Summit will be held at the Swissotel Sydney on 28 and 29 August.

Empowering your agents starts with the right technology

The final step in empowering your agents is to equip them with the right technology, so they can provide the exceptional customer experience. And with our cloud contact centre solution, Premier Contact Point, your agents will have all the answers at their fingertips. Contact us if you’d like to know how.

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