By Tony Martino, Managing Director of Tollring

Inbound and outbound calls can be monitored using call management solutions that not only enable clients to deliver a quantifiable return on any telecoms investment, but are also proven to drive excellence in customer service. In the past such solutions were only available to large corporations and contact centres but now, through advances in technology and the advent of cloud-based services, they are accessible to any business that wants to take their customer service to a level above the rest.

Here are our top tips to improving customer service using insight from your telephone system:

1. Understand the calls in your business, for example how long it takes for a call to be answered, the percentage of incoming calls that are answered and the number of abandoned calls - and share these metrics amongst staff. Use these metrics to understand daily and weekly trends to plan better call handling.

2. Calls can be tracked in real-time to understand how long it takes to resolve a call and how the call was resolved (by the customer calling in again or the customer being called). Key Performance Indicators can be set to ensure calls are resolved within a certain time each day. With a deep understanding of the customer journey, businesses can streamline workflows and processes.

3. Analyse, respond to and resolve missed calls to achieve competitive advantage. Unresolved missed calls are at the heart of any customer service strategy. A builder’s merchant with branches across the UK monitors missed calls in real-time and calls back within a short timeframe. Their customers know that if they call and hang up before being answered they will still receive a call back! This is a solid differentiator over competitors that delivers significant financial returns.

4. Do not underestimate the power of First Contact Resolution (FCR). First call resolution is properly addressing a customer's needs the first time they call, thereby eliminating the need for the customer to follow up with a second call.

A customer’s enquiry going unresolved can result in customer dissatisfaction and significant revenue loss. According to the Service Quality Measurement Group for every 1% improvement in FCR, you get a 1% improvement in customer satisfaction. FCR is highly correlated to customer satisfaction. In contrast, the absence of FCR is the biggest driver of customer dissatisfaction.

5. Integrate call analytics with call recording for invaluable insight; track how long a caller waits to be answered or called back, then assess how the call progresses by listening to the recording. From this you can identify whether the outcome was negatively affected by the wait time. Provide staff with the training and resources to effectively resolve calls according to their wait time. Call recording also enables businesses to train staff on techniques and interactions, learn how to rescue defecting customers and to monitor, compare and improve call handler performances. Call recording insight can also offer predictive intelligence, enabling incoming calls to be flagged or redirected appropriately.

6. Maximise the productivity of your customer facing team. No matter the size of the team, the same level of management information is required to effectively meet business goals. Dynamic staff modelling tools ensure the right number of call handlers at different times of day and on different days of the week. The cost of staff resources will always be the biggest cost to a business, but managing call flows and customer interactions in order to retain high customer service levels does not necessarily mean employing more call handlers.

7. Analyse the ‘cradle to grave’ experience of your customers. The call routing intelligence of many telephony platforms can allow businesses to understand the complete customer journey – a ‘cradle to grave’ understanding allows businesses to be more agile in the way they utilise staff. It is important to understand the whole journey including how calls are routed via distribution groups / transferred between employees and the effect this has on the customers’ experience.

8. Bring your CRM system alive by integrating with your telecoms system. An estate agency that did just that instantly improved customer service levels. Inbound calls are instantly linked to their database to be able to continue conversations where they left off in the previous call, without wasting time looking up their details. Going one step further and using unresolved missed calls analysis to ensure everyone who tried calling that day has been spoken to, differentiates them from other agencies.

9. Subscribe to cloud call analytics to keep an eye on call activity wherever you are, whenever you need to. Set up email alerts when thresholds are reached, schedule reports that are relevant to your business and view dashboards via a browser in real-time to keep monitoring and improving your business performance. Use analytics to avoid setting unrealistic targets, to report on achievement and to build incentives around first call resolution.