Walter Lash

Call Center Best Practices: Communicating Change to Customers

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implementing change in call centerIn today’s digital age, customer expectations are evolving faster than ever before, driving the need for change within your call center environment. The businesses that are most successful at managing this change are those with the capability to adapt, improve and transition with speed and precision. Of course, change is about more than updating technology. It also requires leveraging call center best practices to effectively communication with customers.

COMMUNICATION FOR ACHIEVING SUCCESSFUL CHANGE
Although every business has its own unique way of communicating with customers, there are proven customer service call center best practices that help strengthen communication and improve the change process.

Put Yourself in Your Customers Shoes
What changes will you be implementing? Whether it’s the hours of your call center, the deployment of a new digital channel or the addition of a service fee, it’s important to think like your customers. Consider what impact the change will have on them. What may seem like a minor shift to your service organization could have much bigger ramifications on your customers.

When there’s a company change, particularly one that has the potential of being negatively perceived by customers, don’t simply slip it into your other processes. Instead, gauge the significance of a change from your customers’ perspectives. This will guide you to the optimal way for it to be implemented. In other words, step into your customers’ shoes. By doing so, you can determine how any change will be perceived and accepted.

There are countless examples of business of all sizes that have made the mistake of underestimating the impact of a change. Even as minor of a shift as an update to an IVR system prompt can negatively impact your customer experience. This is why it’s important to never assume the significance of a change in the eyes of your customers.

Create a Plan of Action
Making a call center change requires a plan of action that includes a communication strategy. You’ll need to lay out the specifics related to the change, the impact of the change and the reason for its initiation. For example, when extending hours for your call center, you will need to identify when the change will take place and be able to communicate this change to customers. Ideally, you will want to share understandable benefits with customers, such as reduced wait times or greater convenience.

Communicate Across All Your Communication Channels
It’s not enough to send out a notification of a change in an email or to add a message on your IVR system. Identify everyone who will be affected by the change, including customers, employees, partners and vendors across your communication channels. Missing a segment of your overall audience can hinder the customer experience and potentially damage relationships, productivity and your reputation.

Even if the change has been adequately communicated on your communication channels, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to reach every customer. For minor changes, an email followed up with mentions on blogs and social channels may be sufficient. For major procedural changes, you’ll need to extend the reach of your message. Consider hosted information sessions, mailed print collateral and even videos to explain a major change and to communicate the reasons behind it and the benefits to the customers.

Even more important than the method of communicating a change, it’s important to share why you’re making it in the first place. Customers are much more likely to adopt a change if they feel they will receive some type of benefit from it. Even a negative change like a rate increase or eliminating services can be spun in such a way that customers can accept and appreciate it. Relating a price increase to the increased cost of production is much more palatable than simply surprising customers with an unexplained larger bill.

Get Feedback
Change shouldn’t happen in a vacuum. Rather, you should welcome and encourage the opinions of your customers. What they think and say can help you determine whether the change was beneficial or detrimental. And, their feedback also can help you plan for future changes.

Evaluate the Results
Along with getting feedback, you’ll also want to track adoption rates, complaints and reviews following a change. This will provide further guidance on planning future changes and your overall change process. Although it’s never easy to get a negative response to a change, it’s important to address the feedback and make necessary modifications as part of your ongoing focus on improvement.

Change is an inevitable part of the evolution of a business. To ensure it’s successful, it requires careful management and communication to sustain customer satisfaction and to support your immediate and long-term goals. By following some call center best practices as you make change, you can avoid much of the negative impact that it may temporarily cause and keep you on track for success.

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