Over the past decade call centers have slowly been replaced by contact centers—omnichannel customer service centers that offer customers the opportunity to communicate through everything from SMS to phone calls. But by offering customers such convenient channels, contact center agents are starting to get overwhelmed. After all, an astonishing 55 billion agent-assisted customers are handled in U.S. contact centers each year. For an SMS contact center, there are some key ways to increase agent productivity—and reduce agent stress.
An SMS contact center, which offers a fully integrated omnichannel experience but primarily focuses on sending and receiving texts, is already more efficient than most other service centers. Agents save a lot of time by replying to texts instead of handling phone calls, which require full attention and discourage multi-tasking. For example, while an agent can make maybe 100 appointment reminder calls in 8 hours, that same agent can handle 100 personalized appointment reminder texts in 8 minutes.
But as fast as SMS already is, agents can always improve their productivity. Read on to learn how.
One of the top benefits of SMS contact center solutions is that they allow multi-tasking.
While agents on phone calls have to focus on the voice on the other end for the duration of the call, that is not the case with business SMS. Agents can hold multiple chats at once when they use texting as their primary channel.
For example, while an agent waits for a customer in one chat to find his or her order number, that agent can quickly send appointment reminders to a list of customers. Then, after seeing that the original customer has not yet found the order number, that agent can quickly open another chat and ask what a new customer needs.
Multitasking is one of the best—and easiest—ways to increase agent productivity in your SMS contact center.
Route Messages Based On Intent
Top SMS contact center solutions empower teams to identify customer intent and route messages accordingly. Automatic routing based on intent streamlines workflows, reducing the time that agents spend sifting through messages to determine which they are most qualified to answer. At the same time, automatic routing increases customer satisfaction by quickly connecting customers with the most qualified agent. Customer intent can be identified in three ways:
By entrypoint. Cutting-edge business SMS platforms can receive and send messages from native SMS apps and third-party apps. They can also integrate with websites and other web apps, so they receive messages from those channels as well. Businesses can choose from many options for routing based on entrypoint. For example, marketing teams may want to manage texts coming in from an Adwords advertisement, while customer service teams may want to handle messages coming from web chats.
By keywords. An SMS contact center solution can identify and route messages based on certain keywords contained within the message. For example, messages containing the word “problem” can be directed to a customer service agent, while texts containing the word “reschedule” can be directed to the schedule coordinator. Advanced business SMS platforms can identify potentially offensive keywords and phrases and relegate those texts to specific folders for later review.
By customers themselves. In some cases, businesses can ask that customers indicate their intent themselves. For example, an SMS auto-reply might request that customers press 1 for new orders and 2 for delivery tracking. Customers that choose “new orders” can be redirected to sales agents and those that choose “delivery tracking” can be redirected to operations teams.
Another way to increase contact center agent productivity is to implement automations for simple, repetitive tasks. Advanced SMS contact solutions offer many opportunities for automations, including:
Message scheduling. Scheduling messages is a simple way to save agent time. Agents can schedule follow-ups, notifications, reminders, and other straightforward messages. These messages can be automatically customized and sent to large lists of customers for increased efficiency.
Auto-replies. Auto-replies can range from simple opt-in confirmations to after-hours replies once your teams have headed home for the day. Advanced business SMS platforms can identify keywords and reply with appropriate templates.
Drip campaigns. Drip campaigns can be used for many tasks within an SMS contact center, such as feedback requests and appointment reminders. SMS drip campaigns allow teams to choose the number and frequency of messages sent. These campaigns can be set up to automatically remove customers who ask to opt out, or reroute customers who reply.
Insert Some Personality
Employees work faster and experience less stress when they’re able to be themselves—and, coincidentally, that’s just what customers want. Today’s customers would much rather message with humans than bots, and allowing agents to insert some of their personalities in their chats is a great way to show customers that they’re texting another human.
To insert personality into texts, SMS contact center agents should:
- Insert emojis where appropriate
- Include the occasional GIF
- Add a personal signature at the end of each message
Allowing agents to express their personalities in a work-appropriate way is a great strategy for keeping agents happy (and therefore productive) and engaging customers in an authentic way.
Analyze Current Methods
One of the best ways to improve SMS contact center productivity is to track and analyze agent performance. Your business SMS platform should offer automatic and extensive tracking of critical KPIs. Your teams should be able to track items like agent response speed, resolution speed, and number of successfully closed cases.
Analysis of these factors can reveal key insights into agent productivity. For example, if one agent is responding more slowly than his or team members, this agent requires more training. If messages routed with a certain keyword are answered slowly, then perhaps a new routing strategy is required.
By analyzing and acting SMS contact center reporting, businesses can quickly identify and improve unsatisfactory aspects of their team performance—improving agent productivity overall.
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