By Michael Haisten
Enterprises that decide to offer a callback option enable their customers to avoid quite possibly the most frustrating problem with call centers, excessive hold times. In cases where the callback option is presented via the company’s website or mobile application, customers are also able to skip navigating an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, another frequent source of frustration. By allowing customers to choose whether they want to wait on hold or receive a callback at a convenient time, enterprises are providing a sense of empowerment which results in increased levels of satisfaction and loyalty.
On the other hand, the enterprise is able to more evenly spread its demand throughout the day. Agent productivity and service levels are improved by shifting calls from busy periods to the slowest periods. Idle time in the call center is reduced. Callbacks also reduce the number of abandoned calls which can increase sales and revenue.
So how is callback technology best implemented? Here are some rules of thumb, many of which are slightly modified concepts from regular inbound calls.
Set proper expectations – If the callback is to be offered in the voice channel by an IVR, provide the applicable queue’s expected wait time (EWT) prior to offering a callback. This helps the customer decide whether he would prefer to wait or choose the callback option. Also, regardless of the channel where the callback is offered, make sure to communicate when the callback will occur (i.e. “within an hour”), or even better, provide options where the customer can choose when they would like to receive the callback (in 10 minutes, at 2:00, etc.). Again this keeps the customer feeling empowered. Call volume and work force management data can be applied in business rules here to help the enterprise dynamically discourage callbacks during busy periods and encourage them in slower periods. Busy, less desirable times could either be “grayed out” in a menu as not available or not provided at all.
Make it simple – Excessive customer effort has been proven to decrease levels of satisfaction and loyalty, so it is best to make the callback process easy for the customer. In the case of callbacks offered via the web or mobile app, the customer will have to fill out a pre-callback form to submit the callback request including the phone number to be called and when the call is desired. To reduce customer effort, display a default callback number based on the customer’s account login information, but allow him to change it if necessary of course. For IVR-based callbacks, allow the customer to choose to be called back on his ANI rather than requiring him to enter a complete phone number.
Route the call to the proper agent – If a customer has navigated an IVR prior to choosing a callback, he has already selected the type of agent needed. For web or mobile callbacks, a dropdown menu can be added to the pre-callback form to capture the reason for the customer’s call and assign it to the proper queue. This visual version of an IVR is usually much easier for a customer to comprehend than an auditory version. Alternatively, the context of the page the customer was browsing when the callback was first selected can be used to intelligently route the call. For example, if the customer clicks the callback button on the “Pay My Bill” page, the call can be routed to a billing agent. Some combination of the two approaches can also be used.
Ensure the same standard of service is provided across channels – For example, do not allow customers to avoid waiting on hold while introducing another inconvenience in its place. IVRs may be frustrating to some customers, but when paired with Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) or whisper coaching, they provide a benefit by passing important information to the agent about the caller and his needs. Make sure that any data collected by an IVR, website, or mobile app prior to performing the callback is somehow passed to the agent, so the customer will not have to repeat themselves. Callbacks are a great way to leverage existing business rules and infrastructure in order to enhance their impact on the customer experience.
Following the guidelines above should help any enterprise ensure a customer-centric and well-accepted implementation of callbacks whether they will be offered by IVR, web, or mobile app.