08 Jul Out with the Call Center, in with the Contact Center
The times they are a changin’ and a business won’t stay in business very long if it doesn’t change with the times. Call centers haven’t just accepted changes affecting our industry; we’ve embraced them. The very core of our business is communication. Our employees are called customer service representatives (CSR). Customer service is the operative word. Today being of service to customers means communicating with them using whatever channels to which they are most receptive and responsive.
Call centers have so many communications choices now and the phone isn’t always the clear or logical one. We know our busiest time of day is between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. We also know a large percentage of our online lending applicants are employed. We also know that although they are applying for loans online, they can’t always drop everything to take a phone call. This is a situation when it’s good to have contact options like text and email.
Texting and emailing allow our CSRs to gather the information they need in the least obtrusive way. Text and email are particularly effective with returning customers who don’t need to talk to a CSR. Their information is already on file and verification can proceed with the customers’ permission. Online loans can be approved with a few keystrokes and the customer has dictated the preferred means of contact. And customers like to feel in control, don’t they?
Other forms of communication, like text and email, are far less intrusive and intimidating. Customers who are a few days late on a payment are more likely to respond to this “softer” approach. Missing a payment can be embarrassing for customers and most would rather not discuss it. Our CSRs have found that sending a short reminder email is far more likely to elicit a quicker response, while phone calls are often ignored.
It is in any business’s best interest to use the communication tools and technology available to connect with customers however they’re most comfortable. Right now that involves apps that allow screen sharing, click to chat, live support, text, fax and email. This evolution has resulted in the change from calling call centers contact centers.
Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll place holograms of CSRs right in front of the customers to gather their loan application. Then we’ll be known as virtual communication centers or something of the sort.