If you were in any doubt about the importance of customer service to a business's chance of success, you only need to check out the total value of the call centre market in the UK.
More specifically, the UK market achieved a cumulative value of £2.1 billion in 2022, while further revenue growth of 5.1% is forecast before the end of the year.
Of course, optimising the impact of customer service relies on excellent strategy and management. But what are the best call centre management tips for your small business?
#1. Build a Demand Model and Scale Your Team Quickly When Required
Ecommerce brands have experienced pronounced growth since 2020, when demand for online sales and verticals peaked as people were forced to spend extended periods of time at home.
Overall, it's thought that the coronavirus pandemic added £5.3 billion to ecommerce revenues in the UK, while growth in the sector has continued as customers have become increasingly reliant on mobile and online purchases.
While this is great news from a revenue perspective, it also creates increased pressure on customer service teams. This is far from ideal, as it can create too significant a burden for agents and undermine their ability to resolve individual customer complaints adequately.
Ultimately, your team needs to be scaled in order to cope with an increased volume of orders and customer queries. This type of demand model will create an ideally balanced workflow, which strikes the ideal balance between handling large volumes of complaints and optimising customer satisfaction.
Certainly, you'll need to build a demand model that accounts for a measured rise in call volumes and the time required to recruit, hire and train additional customer service agents.
This way, you can prepare your resources and be ready to scale your team as demand increases, rather than being reactive and waiting to recruit new reps when the team is already overloaded.
Make no mistake; this type of proactive call centre management is crucial if you're to optimise the quality and consistency of support afforded to customers, especially during periods of growth and as the demand for your products picks up.
#2. Consider the Benefits of Outsourcing
There may be instances where demand for your products fluctuates regularly, due to factors such as seasonality or the strength of the national economy.
Similarly, you may have struggled to scale your call centre and customer service team if demand has increased suddenly, leaving you short of operatives but without a viable long-term plan to cope.
In these cases, you may be best served by seeking out bespoke solutions such as outsourcing your customer support function. This enables you to respond in an agile and flexible manner as your business scales rapidly, with companies like Salesupply ensuring that you can build out your customer support team without any minimum requirement in terms of how many agents you need to hire.
By outsourcing, you can access skilled customer support agents and instantly increase the size of your workforce, while potentially creating additional capacity during evenings and weekends and extending the service for the convenience of consumers.
You can also tap into some serious industry expertise, allowing you to focus on the more strategic elements of call centre management and optimise the efficiency of the department.
Try to prioritise companies that afford you total flexibility over the number of agents that you take on and how they're trained in relation to their new roles.
If your business has an international focus, we'd also recommend ensuring that your outsource partner is multilingual in nature and has experience in catering to customers in other countries.
#3. Afford Your Customers a Voice
It was 10 years ago that the Zappos brand changed how we think about customer service, while former dot.com business mogul Seth Godin also talked about customer service as 'a scalable way to delight' around the same time.
In a blog post entitled "Speaking When They Care", Godin talked about how brands needed to change their attitude to customer service, by considering this as an opportunity to engage with consumers at a time when they're most engaged with the business.
Godin also talked about how advertisers often struggle to be heard through the noise when marketing their ventures, whereas "customer service reps can whisper" and leverage one-on-one interactions to cultivate relationships and potentially upsell products.
By the same token, customer service interactions enable consumers to have their voice and feedback heard, creating a much more rewarding experience for them in the process.
With these points in mind, customer service should be afforded priority and place the consumer at the epicentre of your business.
Ultimately, giving your customers status and a voice will only benefit your business over time, and it's the call centre staff members who'll be tasked with drawing out feedback and making consumers influential components within the business.
#4. Invest in Technology
On a final note, it's important to understand how technology has also helped to boost call centre productivity. We recommend working towards 'hybrid customer service'.
The hybrid model combines both advanced technology and automation with real customer support agents, in order to simultaneously improve efficiency and deliver a service that's accessible, flexible and ultimately empathetic when needed.
So, in addition to combining intuitive self service options with your customers' other preferred channels, it's important to employ human agents who can handle more complex queries and provide empathetic support to consumers who are particularly upset or agitated.
Of course, this can be a delicate balance to strike, particularly when calculating the costs of implementing automated technologies and employing human agents. It's also better to avoid going too far down the rabbit hole with automation, as this can compromise the customer experience in instances where it's used inappropriately.
After all, there's no point in reducing long-term operational costs and increasing efficiency through automation if it's ultimately likely to cost you business.
With a hybrid customer service model, you'll introduce intuitive elements of self-service and automation in the form of FAQs and chatbots respectively. This creates an initial customer service experience that's automated and immediately accessible, while enabling consumers to transition to a human agent if they want to.
This combination provides customers with choice and autonomy over their journey, as they can tailor their experience depending on how they like to communicate with your brand.