Many contentious issues are arising in newspaper call centers, from long hold times to queued call-back expirations as a result of staffing shortages. The question is, how can a call center effectively approach such a complex problem?
Personnel shortages have drastically impacted the newspaper industry in particular. Here at TCN, we recently had a prospective client in the newspaper industry report having 300 calls a day go unanswered, with some customers experiencing an average two- to four-hour wait time. An article by Axios reports that newspaper employment has fallen by around 70% since 2006, with the most significant cuts (82%) attributed to production and distribution staff.
Due to the industry's staffing shortages, it is clear that customer service is struggling. The results of our Consumer Insights Surveys for the past two years speak directly to these issues. According to the 2021 survey, 42% of Americans stated that they will likely abandon a brand after a poor customer service experience, which means that people are more sensitive to their customer service experiences than ever before, and the number isn't slowing down.
Comparatively, in TCN's 2022 Consumer Insights survey, the number increased to 66%. This emphasizes the importance of customer experience in the contact center industry and makes predictions for future exchanges. In the same 2022 survey, 27% of respondents said they were "very likely" to abandon a brand after a poor customer service experience, while 39% said they were "somewhat likely." However, as we all know, one's customer service experience doesn't start with the interaction itself; in reality, it begins as soon as the customer picks up the phone. In 2022, respondents primarily reported that they were only willing to wait on hold for five to seven minutes; however, the average hold time was 14.6 minutes.
While staffing shortages represent an issue across the U.S., it also presents an opportunity for the integration of automation technology to maximize operational efficiency while improving customer satisfaction. Key automation technology that can directly improve the customer service experience in the newspaper industry includes interactive voice response (IVR), embedded payment services and integrated data management, all to streamline contact center processes and benefit customers and agents.
Options are everything
IVR is an automated technology solution that involves pre-recorded responses to help better understand customers’ needs. IVR presents callers with pre-recorded options, allowing customers to feel acknowledged while providing the contact center the time to effectively match the customer with the department and agent best suited to solve the problem. IVR technology can play a critical role in solving the issues that come with staffing shortages because it provides customers with a more productive experience while also allowing the contact center to combat call congestion and overworked agents.
Taking the stress out of the payment process
Payment processing over the phone can be stressful; automating the payment process with payment gateway access can circumnavigate the unnerving elements of submitting a payment via phone by combining aspects of IVR with Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance. This technology will improve efficiency and productivity for newspaper call centers in instances such as subscription payment processing. It will also allow customers to feel secure when submitting confidential payment information to customer service agents. Integrating these elements into the payment process removes the stress of the experience by ensuring no personal information is in a position to be compromised while still providing an interactive experience so that a real-life agent can deal with any questions or concerns.
Collecting data is one thing, but managing it is another
Contact centers are responsible for an abundance of customer data, which can become overwhelming; this is where data management comes in. Customer data management goes beyond data collection into organization, processing and analysis. Tools like List Management Services (LMS) allow contact centers to take a more systematic approach to data. By utilizing this type of automation, contact centers can save time by no longer having to perform manual updates while still being able to customize data according to the center's needs. This also allows contact centers to leverage data much more effectively without compromising privacy and compliance.
"Time is of the essence" is a phrase we have all heard before but is now more critical than ever. Taking advantage of technological advancements is not optional; it's necessary considering the issues presented by staffing shortages. With so many new technologies readily available, contact centers must integrate these automated tools into their platforms to provide stellar customer service experience in order to stay competitive and thrive in this ever-challenging market.
To get a hold of Tony Ort, director of media partnerships at TCN, call or email 888-279-8643 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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