Call Center CRM Software helps call center agents to track customer interactions in one place.
But, how does it help call center performance?
Let’s dive a little deeper. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. CRM solutions are tools that help you, you guessed it, keep track of your relationship with individual customers.
They help your sales agents and support reps instantly get the answers to essential questions, like:
- Are they still a prospect?
- Did they call you, or were they initially reached through a cold call?
- Have they received sales materials?
- What services are they subscribed to? What is their current status?
- When did they become a customer?
- Have they had previous issues? Were they resolved?
With Call Centers, it becomes a little more tricky. Ideally, the system should interface with the phones themselves.
Which is why a CRM that integrates with VOIP, like our Sales & Service CRM are ideal for call centers.
CRM Call Center Software Vs. Sales
- Personalize Your Sales Process With Customer Information
- Use Call Recording to Troubleshoot & Help Agents Improve
- Automatically Manage Calls For a Consistent Customer Experience
CRM Call Center Software Vs. Customer Service
- Route Calls Efficiently to Minimize Wait Times
- Prevent Customers From Leaving With Next Level Insights
- Improve Performance with In-Depth Analytics
- Integrate Phone With Every Other Channel
- Use Next level Case Tags (SmartTopic) to Get The Right Agent On The Job
- Use Our Smart Interface to Help Any Agency Solve Any Issue
#1 Personalize Your Sales Process With Real-time Access to Customer Information
A proper CRM will change how your sales reps sell on the phone. And it will change how much money your virtual call center makes you.
The biggest win in the sales process is real-time access to information on your customer.
71% of customers feel that companies don’t personalize their treatment enough. Let that sink in for a moment.
If that’s not enough to motivate you to tackle a new piece of software, try this on for size:
The same study showed something even more interesting. 40% of consumers purchased something more expensive than planned. And they did this because of their personalized experience.
Someone enters a store.
The clerk treats them like a person. They ask them about their preferences, their needs, their priorities. Thus, making a personalized recommendation.
And the business is rewarded with a more significant purchase. Not a new idea, right?
What’s even better is, the overwhelming majority of customers don’t regret it at all. 84% who upgraded their budget in a brick & mortar store were happy with their purchases.
Personalization is not a cheap trick to try to surprise people with an upgraded offer. It is not about springing expensive costs down the line after a discounted first offer.
It is the profound value real human interactions have on any business. And, with the right tools, your call center staff can apply the same principle over the phone. Or even social media.
What Happens When a Business Treats Customers Like Real People
Zappos has earned a reputation for having killer customer service. Partly because of how personal their interactions are. In turn, this has created a base of loyal customers and repeat buyers who choose Zappos again and again.
You can see why by snooping around their Twitter feed.
In this case, the Zappos customer service agent took the time to send a personalized response. Not the typical canned copy and paste.
The agent did not annoy a customer who was already stressed out. Instead, they further improved the customer relationship.
All it took was understanding the current situation, and acting accordingly. A human being acting like a human being.
If you want to teach your staff to provide great customer service like this, read our top tips on customer service.
What would it mean for your business if even 20% of your customers went for a more expensive option? What would it mean if customers stayed for 20% longer? How about if they become repeat buyers because of a good experience?
That is what’s on the table if you do personalization right.
So what does an organization need to treat each customer more like an individual? All records and data turned into usable information at the fingertips of your sales reps. In real time.
Sound good to be true?
It shouldn’t. Nextiva Sales and Service CRM provides your sales reps with all this and more. It also shares it with your customer service and marketing departments as well. Centralizing the data means a fuller view of the customer.
Our CRM Tells Your Reps Who Your Customer Is
As you can see, the CRM accurately shows where in the sales cycle the customer is.
Your staff can see an overview of the last times the customer has contacted your company.
They also receive data and AI algorithm based insights. Nextiva estimates the likely impression the customer has of your company/products.
Imagine if your sales agents had this information in front of them every time they called.
No more bugging the customer with unnecessary questions. And, no more guessing about the priority of the customer and how to handle the call.
Just one person treating someone else like a person. Helping them make the decision that benefits both them and your company. At scale. That’s one thing the right CRM can do for your call center.
#2 Use Call Recording to Troubleshoot & Help Your Reps Improve
Many companies rely on self-evaluation. This is a bad idea for measuring and improving performance.
Some people might not like the idea of being recorded, but it is a very useful tool. And it is necessary for a straightforward reason.
Human memory is not reliable enough to recount events in perfect detail. Consider habits that are so ingrained they happen on autopilot.
Your Agents Don’t Have Perfect Recall
Have you ever locked the door and forgotten about it? Then you double-checked and realized that you, of course, locked the door already.
Now imagine someone trying to recollect their tone of voice, their pacing, and energy in a conversation. And not just any conversation. A customer support call with pressure to perform and time crunch.
A pretty tough ask.
And that is the least of your worries when it comes to human memory and self-reporting. Skilled individuals often underestimate their abilities and performance. Unskilled people tend to think they are much better than they are.
In the study that discovered the effect, the bottom 12th percentile estimated themselves to be in the 62nd. Almost every single participant who performed below average thought they were above average.
It’s a popular idea that 80% of drivers think they are above average. (If in doubt, ask your friends and try to find just one who thinks they aren’t!)
In an actual study, 90% of College faculty rated themselves as above average teachers.
These findings are consistent with a core part of what makes us human:
We want to think we are special.
Translation: most of your customer support and sales reps think they are doing a better job than they are. This colors how they remember their interactions. So self-reporting is unlikely to lead to improvement.
Which means you need another way to troubleshoot problems with your customer service and sales staff.
Enter High-quality Call Recording
Recording calls used to be a messy process, and it would be hard to access the recording you wanted.
With Nextiva, you can set up call recording for your staff with the click of a button.
You can choose which support/sales agent to record calls from.
That way, you don’t have to record every single call for every single agent all the time. Doing that would create a massive database of recordings that takes up a lot of digital space.
Instead, you can focus on recording certain conversations. For example, you can choose to only record agents that have repeat issues. Or agents that take the initiative and want to improve.
And, unlike when people recorded on tape, you don’t have to fast-forward to find them.
Once you get access, you can find the recordings in the dashboard that shows the calls an agent has made.
This easy access also makes it possible to take random samples across several days. You can use the samples to make sure that your agent is performing consistently.
Check If Your Staff Are Using The Right/Wrong Phrases
How you use customer service phrases can have a big impact on how customers experience their calls.
Make sure your reps aren’t scaring customers or making them antsy by using phrases like:
“We’ve never had this issue before.” And that they always thank customers for reaching out and giving you their feedback. After all, some customers just up and leave with no message. With Nextiva’s crystal-clear high-quality recordings, you can discover any agent-side issues.
From the tone of voice, energy and other ambiguous factors, to the words and habits that they have.
With the recordings, you can work together to improve, or clear agents on calls that went bad.
Having the ability to record calls and analyze what went wrong, is an integral piece of the puzzle. It is a big step to move your call center to the next level.
#3 Automatically Manage Inbound / Outbound Calls to Create a Consistent Customer Experience
You call customer service, you can’t reach the appropriate team, or the agent in charge of your product is busy. So they tell you to call back.
But once you call back, you have to start the process all over again.
Or, you tell the agent the entire situation, and they tell you that you can go in-store to fix your problem. Once you do go to the store, they haven’t heard of you or your issues at all.
Everyone is familiar with these two situations, and nobody likes them. People like consistency and hate inconsistency.
69% of consumers expect consistency in customer service between online and retail stores. 69% of American adults say they shop more with businesses that have consistent online and offline customer service.
Disconnected Experiences Create Angry Customers
Having a connected experience between inbound and outbound calls is essential. If you don’t, you can end up with broken promises and very, very angry customers.
Angry customers that in 2019, will post about their experience on social media.
Use an Integrated CRM & VoIP Service
Avoid similar disasters by using a call center compatible CRM and a VOIP system. With Nextiva Contact Center, you can manage inbound and outbound calls. The logs make it easy to ensure customer service is consistent.
It also makes it easy for managers to step in and solve problems like this.
With Nextiva, Adams Publishing Group organized their teams by function, not by office. They had members on the same team in different offices. So, before the switch, it was difficult to assign calls and collaborate.
The legal team works out of different cities. With the cloud-based system, the company was able to treat them as a single call center. The changed allowed a scaling business to keep growing.
Even when acquiring other publishers, they can stay synchronized across locations.
If your business has offices around the country, you probably understand their challenges. Many locations have their own office, their own culture, and their own systems.
So it can be difficult to collaborate.
But when you have a centralized system in the cloud, many of those problems go away. A customer calls, and it searches up and registers the call to the existing profile.
The agents on call can add relevant information. They can also contact other members of the team through chat. The internal chat makes it easy to follow up on previous interactions with that customer.
Once added, the information in the CRM syncs to everyone’s dashboard.
#4 Route and Forward Calls Efficiently to Cut Wait Times
If you own a business that relies heavily on the phone, you don’t need us to tell you that long wait times kill businesses.
80% of support calls are answered within 20 seconds. This is a standard that you cannot afford to break without losing customer loyalty. 50% of callers abandon their call after just 45 seconds of wait time.
And these are just some customer service statistics that show how impatient customers are in 2019.
If you run a call center and support/sales team on traditional phone lines, it can be hard to route calls. As a result, during peak hours, it’s not unusual to have wait times of minutes rather than seconds.
But with the lack of activity during other hours, it can be hard to justify increasing the size of your call center. During peak hours you might struggle, but even with your current staff, there are other times when they feel overmanned.
Not only that, but forwarding calls to the correct person in another office takes a long time. And you might even send them to a busy agent.
Use The Cloud to Empower Your Workforce
If you have a cloud-based VoIP solution and CRM tailored to call centers, these problems no longer exist. At least, they start being smaller issues, instead of profit-eating sinkholes.
You can mix and match and find the most efficient routing policy. This keeps as many agents open to handle requests at all times as possible.
We offer typical circular and uniform routing. For smaller centers, we have simultaneous calls. But going on the cloud has a much bigger advantage. You can treat different locations like the same call center.
This means that during busy hours for one call center, you can treat staff in a different one as team members.
They will receive and handle calls as if they were in the same office. You can even have temporary staff working from home, only during heavy hours.
This is especially valuable for growing businesses that need to scale. DirectBuy’s growth had outpaced the size of their offices/call centers. They needed a solution to let extra workers handle calls from all over the U.S., and even Canada.
With Nextiva, they were able to use the cloud to create a digital office that transcended borders. They now have a workforce powered by a mix of people in-office and working from home.
Without a cloud-based CRM and phone system, this would be close to impossible to manage. Imagine all the correspondence, the emails, the managerial phone calls.
Treat Agents in Any Location As a Single Call Center
Instead, calls are automatically routed to workers all around North America as if they were working in the same office.
The data is all handled in the cloud, and managers can check agent performance through the Nextiva dashboard.
And call forwarding is no different.
Your agent can quickly see who on the relevant team is ready for a call, and forward the call through to them.
They don’t even have to be in the same office, building, state, or even country.
Jersey College switched to Nextiva and have never been happier. Being able to transfer calls between their two campuses quickly was a game changer.
Their campuses are spread between New Jersey and Tampa, Florida. Many students would end up calling the wrong campus with their issues and questions. Or, they would want to talk about transferring to the other campus. Transferring their calls used to be a tedious process, but now all it takes is the click of a button.
In the past, students might have waited minutes or struggled to reach the right person. Now those long wait times are a thing of the past.
#5 Prevent Customers From Leaving With Automated Surveys
If your company has a big customer service department that handles a lot of complaints, this might come as a shock to you.
The majority of unhappy customers simply stop buying from you.
They never complain.
In a recent survey, 73% of British consumers said they switch brands without contacting the company they are unhappy with. In an earlier study in the U.S., up to 97% of Americans said they don’t complain about smaller purchases.
So what can a company do to get these silent customers into sharing how they feel?
It starts with actively trying to understand your customer in real-time.
In-depth analytics is a good starting point, as it gives you an image an idea of how every single user is interacting with your company.
With that information, you can quickly spot large scale problems and make a better customer experience for everyone.
But analyzing usage data alone is not enough. If you do not genuinely interact with your customers, you won’t have the full picture. You will struggle to find the customers who need intervention the most.
The customers on the brink of leaving.
This is where Nextiva offers your business a huge competitive advantage.
We make it easy for you to combine our survey software with our CRM and analytics. It’s easy to mix and match the communications tools you need, and they all integrate easily with workflow automation.
You get a real-time view of how each customer feels about your company. You can schedule surveys to trigger after key events.
The customer just contacted your call center? Send them a survey.
Maybe the customer just renewed their contract? Send them a survey. There are countless options, and you can use our simple workflow automation to set it up.
Because the customer has recently interacted with you, they are much more likely to answer a survey honestly.
And it’s not just the system around the surveys that are smart.
The surveys themselves are next-generation. They automatically hide/show options based on answers. They only show questions relevant to the taker. And customers can take it directly in their email inbox.
Identify At-Risk Customers at Crucial Moments
With NextOS, we take everything one step further.
By monitoring every single channel, including social, you stay on top of everything. Then, by adding AI to the mix, you can identify critical moments in the customer experience.
For example, when their attitude changes from a positive to a negative. You can find moments where customers need intervention, or they will leave.
Then, after intervening, you can easily tag profiles for follow-up, and see if their attitude has changed. In other words, you get the help you need to nurture and protect your customer relationships at scale.
#6 Improve Performance With In-Depth Customer Service Analytics
Data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers. They are also six times as likely to retain customers, and 19 times as likely to be profitable as a result.
If you want more proof that knowing the problem is the first step to solving it, try this on for size:
A multi-company study showed that installing analytics lead to a 3% growth in web traffic and a 13% improvement in conversion rate.
And customer service is no different. But it is difficult to measure and stay on top of so many different channels.
Most businesses in 2019 use tons of different tools for communications, marketing, and service.
- The developers use Slack for internal comms.
- The customer service team uses email, social, helpdesk, chat and of course, the telephone.
- Web developers and marketing use Google and Adobe analytics.
- Marketing uses Infusionsoft, MailChimp, or Aweber for emails.
- Customer service and sales use a survey solution and a CRM.
- Everyone tries to collaborate on Asana or Trello.
And even if everyone works together in one application, the data is not uniform. It can be hard to get a complete image of how your company has interacted with the customer.
We recently interviewed companies about their communications challenges. Brendan Schwartz, the Co-Founder and CTO of Wistia, told us that their company uses too many tools. It was somewhere between 10-15 separate tools at any given time.
One of their biggest challenges is to merge all data points about the customer into one place.
This is probably the same for your company.
That’s exactly why we’ve chosen to develop a communications toolbox where everything integrates seamlessly.
And at the core of this is analytics.
Analytics Is the Foundation of Modern Communications
Nextiva handles calls, chat, social, marketing communications and the customer relationship.
So as a business owner, you can take a look at a single dashboard, and know almost every metric that matters most to your business.
Not only that, we make it easy to compare performance historically and in real-time.
This is integral for any company that considers customer service its competitive advantage.
One such company, Rainbow Ryders, use the insights gained from analytics to make many important decisions. During quarterly and yearly reviews, they pull and compare the recent performance with historical data.
You can easily see call volume and status divided over weekdays and hours of the day. This allowed the Rainbow Ryders manager to stay up-to-date on the landscape, and staff according to demand.
Since they are a customer-centric company, being able to answer calls and resolve issues quickly is a priority.
Comprehensive analytics is the first step to making this happen.
You can also share dashboard access with managers and other key employees. This will remove bottlenecks and keep decision-making agile.
#7 Integrate Calls With Helpdesk, Email, Chat, Social & More
Customers in 2019 don’t discriminate.
They are on every channel and reward companies that match them.
Not only do they shop more often than single-channel customers, but they also spend more each time.
Omnichannel customers spend on average 4% more in retail stores, and 10% more online per session.
But it’s not enough to be on every channel.
Different teams for social, chat, calls, email, and no centralized database is a bad idea. There will inevitably be a disconnect. And that disconnect leads to inconsistent experiences across channels. That no longer cuts it with the connected customer in 2019.
75% expect consistency between channels and 73% are likely to switch brands if they don’t get it. And as if switching brands isn’t bad enough, you already know how modern customers go on Twitter to complain.
But getting your call center to work together is hard enough. Just providing a consistent experience for ingoing and outgoing calls is a challenge.
How can you integrate every single channel into one system? The answer is simple. You need a single system that supports all these channels.
Omnichannel At It’s Best
If you still doubt the power of integrating different channels, look at Disney.
What they have done with Disney World and their resorts, integrating digital and brick and mortar is incredible.
You can plan your experience online, and it will have a direct impact on how your trip plays out.
But they don’t stop at a digital trip planner. They integrate this with a wearable that improves the real experience at their retail location.
The “magic pass” can unlock the door of the guest’s hotel room. You can use it as a ticket to get in the park, automatically send digital photos from the rides to their account.
But that is basic functionality. It also unlocks personalized experiences based on the customer history & profile with Disney.
The reason they succeed? They have integrated their data across every channel.
To provide a next level customer experience for your customer, you don’t have to develop or buy wearables though. It’s enough to use the data from every previous interaction to treat your customers right on every channel.
Since all communication starts and ends in one place, it’s easy to use the appropriate business communication style. Most customer service horror stories are results of lack of context.
If you have access to data from every channel in a single dashboard, this is no longer a problem.
#8 Use Next Level Case Tags (SmartTopic) to Get The Right Agent On The Job
If they have an issue with your product, your customer’s don’t like waiting. And that’s not unique to phone calls or voice.
People are becoming less and less patient with other channels as well.
In 2018, 21% of consumers expected a response within 15 minutes to a Twitter direct message. 29% expect it within 1 hour.
Email was a little more forgiving with 43% expecting an answer within a day. But still 11% expect it within 15 minutes, and 19% within 1 hour. Which means you risk disappointing 30% or more of your customers if the response takes more than an hour.
And if the response isn’t helpful, or doesn’t move towards resolving the issue, it’s not good enough.
To ensure that issues get solved faster, get the right agent on the job, right away.
You can do this across all channels by using Nextiva’s SmartTopics.
By using SmartTopic tags, you control where each help ticket ends up.
Unlike normal case tags, algorithms power SmartTopics and can categorize based on content. So even if the customer didn’t choose a category, or chose the wrong one, the ticket reaches the right team every time.
(For calls with our VOIP solution you can use advanced call routing to do the same thing.)
Set Points to Gain At-A-Glance Insights into Customer Relationships
You can set a negative or positive point score to different SmartTopics.
For example, if the customer sends a bug report, that would usually trigger a negative score. A thank you message after having an issue resolved could be assigned an equal amount of positive points.
This helps the system evaluate the current state of your customer relationships. It is one of the moving parts that power the at-a-glance customer satisfaction dashboard.
SmartTopics help you treating every request with the urgency they deserve. They also make sure issues arrive to the right agent. This way, you give every customer an appropriate experience for each situation.
#9 Use Telephony Integrations & Smart Interface To Help Any Agent Quickly Resolve Issues
What do customers hate even more than waiting?
Having called, waited, reached an agent, but the problem remaining unresolved.
It’s not just common sense anymore.
In a landmark study Microsoft did last year, consumers pointed out the most frustrating aspect of a bad customer service experience:
- 36% answered: The customer service rep isn’t knowledgeable enough to help.
- 31% responded: Having to repeat problem/information multiple times.
Which means 67% of people were frustrated that the first agent couldn’t solve their issue.
We’ve already covered one way to do this; by routing the call to the right agent.
But, with average call center turnover rates of between 30-45%, it’s always possible a rookie gets assigned a difficult call.
With telephony integrations and a smart interface, you take a lot of the pressure of the individual agent.
Automatically Show Relevant Wiki Entries to Help Your Agent with Issues
The Nextiva smart interface displays relevant wiki entries that might help a new agent solve harder issues.
Agents can expand the wiki entries and explore to help when they face new problems.
Other internal teams, like development and R&D, can help develop entries on known issues. By every team collaborating, you can quickly create a wiki that covers most calls an agent will get.
This information allows agents to determine the right way forward quickly. If it is a known bug, or issue, with a known way to resolve it, they can quickly guide the customer through it.
Use Internal Chat to Solve Unique Issues Without Transferring Agents
Sometimes an agent will get an issue outside of their area of expertise, and the wiki won’t be enough.
Thankfully, Nextiva’s internal chat inside the smart interface allows agents to ask for help quickly. This way they can solve the issue without having to transfer the call/conversation to another agent.
The customer doesn’t have to deal with repeating themselves or starting anew with a new agent.
Warm Transfer Calls Without Friction
Now and then a call needs to be transferred to be solved. There is no way around it. But there is a way to make it a less annoying experience for the customer.
If you use a telephony integration/VOIP like Nextiva’s, it is easy for your agent to do what’s called a “warm transfer.” A warm transfer is when an agent prepares the transferee on the caller and their issue before transferring the call.
For difficult technical inquiries, the agent can warm transfer the call to the right department.
First, they can check the appropriate teams for available agents. Then give them a quick rundown of the issues over internal chat. Finally, they can prepare the next agent on call for a smooth landing — a very simple three-step process.
The warm transfer removes the friction that customers usually feel when transferred to a new agent. After all, the second biggest complaint of 2018 was having to repeat themselves multiple times.
Ready To Treat Your Customers & Prospects as Individuals?
Since you’ve made it this far, we assume you didn’t lose interest as soon as reading the three letters C R M.
By now you should understand the profound power it can have when implemented in the right way. It integrates every communication channel, including your call center.
- You avoid siloing the customer information in each channel and provide each agent with the full picture of the caller/inquirer.
- Different departments share their data, and marketing/sales/support can personalize their communication.
- You can assign the right cases to the right agent, help agents solve difficult cases, and reduce wait times by efficient routing.
- Teams split across offices can work as though they were in the same building, and collaboration is made much easier with all data in one place.
- Analytics keep track of each step in the customer journey, and you use surveys tactically to avoid quiet churn.
These factors all come together to make the job easier for each agent, and the experience better and more personal for every customer.
If you want to take us for a test drive and see how we can help your call center, read more about our call center solutions.
Yaniv Masjedi serves as Nextiva’s CMO. An avid reader and lover of all things marketing, leadership, and personal growth, Yaniv is obsessed with creating strategies that drive awareness, strengthen brands, and create customer-centric culture. To get in touch, follow Yaniv on LinkedIn.