One simple way businesses can boost productivity levels is to improve utilization by adding channels. The average customer uses up to 10 different channels1 to contact a company’s customer support, which is exactly why every business should focus on upgrading its omnichannel support processes. This approach allows customers to reach support through any communication channel they choose.

Beyond offering various communication channels, omnichannel boosts daily support inquiries. As such, businesses can use omnichannel customer support to ramp up utilization rates. 

In essence, omnichannel provides customers with more ways to contact, purchase from, or recommend a business and its products. It may seem deceptively simple, but by providing more channels, utilization levels improve.

What We Mean by Customer Support Staff Utilization

Customer Support Staff

Utilization measures the amount of time support agents use to address customer issues during their billable time. An organization can use this metric to gauge their customer support staff’s productivity.

For instance, if staff works on omnichannel for 30 minutes in one hour, their utilization rate is 50 percent. If the customer support staff spends only 50 percent of their time addressing customer concerns, they spend the other 50 percent doing non-job related activities.

A reasonable staff utilization rate should be, on average, at least 75 percent. A utilization rate below the 75 percent mark means agents are being underutilized and may get fewer inquiries from customers.

Traditionally, businesses would resort to layoffs when utilization rates dipped below this threshold. However, that is no longer the case. Today, forward-looking companies adopt more communication channels to ensure staff have enough work.

Customers can contact the support team via any channel they prefer, contributing to the team’s workload. As a result, businesses can retain good talent while keeping customer satisfaction scores and efficiency levels high.

Adding Channels

Expanding omnichannel support is a straightforward process. Enterprises will just need to identify which channels make the most sense and begin to integrate them into their existing network. There are several that every business should use. These channels include: 

  • Live chat
  • Social media
  • Phone calls
  • Chatbots
  • Email
  • Self-service portals
  • Messaging apps

If a business is already using all of these channels, they might consider adding outbound communication. Unlike inbound call centers, where customers initiate communication, outbound call centers reach out to the customers.

Once outbound is implemented, customer support agents can contact customers to reduce idle time. Support teams won’t have to wait for clients to initiate communication. As part of the outbound communication strategy, customer support staff will focus on:

1. Follow-up

Outbound communication is perfect for making follow-up calls, sending emails, or other messaging opportunities. Support agents can use this channel to ask for post-purchase feedback or remind customers to renew subscriptions. Moreover, the support staff can use outbound communication to make inquiries.

By implementing strategic follow-up communication, businesses can reap several benefits. For one, this type of communication makes customers feel valued. As a result, enterprises will strengthen relationships with their customers and boost loyalty.

The follow-up communication can also help generate invaluable feedback for future business improvements. This critical feedback could include suggestions for product improvements and express customer preferences.

2. Research

Customer support staff can also use outbound communication to do business research. Support staff can use the outbound to gather valuable market insights and gauge satisfaction levels.

Support staff can use outbound communication to research essential topics.  

  • Marketing campaign effectiveness
  • Consumer preferences
  • Acceptance rates for new products
  • Competitor analysis
  • Customer behavior
  • Lead generation
  • Market positioning

Research won’t just increase utilization. Research is an opportunity to gather the information needed to make essential business decisions. Analytics-supported research can identify customer behavior for competitive advantage or new product development.

All in all, information gathered by doing outbound research can help businesses form strategies that will enable them to achieve sustainable business growth.

3. Surveys

Customer support agents can also use outbound communication to collect a variety of business opinions. These opinions could provide insight into consumer preferences, product satisfaction, and customer experience.

Businesses can use outbound communication to collect opinions on a variety of issues.

  • Market demand
  • Brand perception
  • Website usability
  • Pricing
  • Advertising effectiveness
  • Customer satisfaction

While businesses have many ways of conducting surveys, outbound communication tends to be the most effective. By using this communication strategy, your staff is engaging in real-time interactions with the target audience.

When contacting customers directly, agents can clarify and address concerns instantly. This humanized approach creates a rapport with participants, resulting in more detailed and actionable responses.

4. Fundraising

Fundraising is vital for organizations supporting critical causes. Outbound communication is a great way to get in touch with potential donors. Customer support agents can use this communication strategy to share their stories and articulate reasons why someone should contribute to the fundraising campaign. 

Furthermore, an organization can use outbound communication to thank donors for their support. A personalized outbound call or email will go far to help nurture relationships with donors and investors.

5. Proactive Notifications

Businesses will want to keep customers informed about a variety of things, including policy changes, payment confirmations, promotional offers, new product releases, and service outages.

Outbound communication helps when these scenarios arise. Customer support agents will reach out to customers proactively and communicate clearly to ensure the interested parties receive the intended message.

What are the Benefits of Improved Utilization?

Improving utilization scores is not just a business strategy; it’s a practice that will actually enhance the customer experience. Looking at utilization scores can help businesses create a more productive environment and retain talent. Attracting and keeping valuable staff members is one of the hottest C-suite (CEO, CFO, COO, and CIO) initiatives in recent years. Other benefits of improving utilization rates include:

1. Profitability

Improving utilization rates can help keep businesses more profitable. This strategy ensures that maximum ROI can be extracted from the funds used to pay and manage the customer support department.

Improving utilization also ensures customers get the help they need, regardless of their preferred communication channel. This will solidify repeat business and maintain a pre-existing customer base over the long term, both essential to increasing sales and profits.

2. Customer Satisfaction

Improving utilization by adding channels can also help improve customer satisfaction scores. Clients have the freedom to contact customer service using the channels that are most convenient for them.

This personalized communication approach enhances customer satisfaction, which is a prerequisite for brand loyalty. Customers receive quality service from a contented support staff who understand their jobs are not at stake.

3. Employee Morale

When customer inquiry volume is low on a regular basis, employees’ morale can drop instantly. Employees want to feel that they are contributing to an organization that needs them. A reduced workload can also inspire anxiety among staff about potential layoffs or downsizing.

More channels generate enough work to keep the customer support team engaged. In response, the staff will feel more confident. Furthermore, the consistent workload eliminates the fear of job insecurity.

4. Competitiveness

Improved utilization gives businesses an edge over competitors. Customers achieve resolution of their issues immediately and via their preferred method of communication. As a result, customers have more reasons to keep doing business with the companies implementing this strategy. Satisfied customers are repeat customers. 

5. Resource Utilization

As a matter of ethics, organizations should pay their customer support staff full salaries, regardless of the workload. When customer support staff routinely experience low workloads, the result is a business wasting money on an operation that generates little value.

Improving utilization rates will ensure customer support staff have plenty of customer queries to address. In return, organizations get more value through high customer satisfaction scores and enhanced brand loyalty.

6. Long-term Economic Sustainability

Improving utilization ensures that every resource, particularly every human resource, is utilized to its fullest potential. Heightened utilization levels result in increased output and assurances that the business can effectively meet market demands.

Utilization can improve a company’s long-term profitability by increasing cost efficiency. As a result, organizations will reduce wastage and free up resources for growth initiatives, innovation, and expansion.

Ways to Improve Utilization by Adding Channels

As is typical with any business strategy, improving utilization rates requires a well-executed strategy. Without a viable strategy, organizational vision can become distorted along the way. But how can businesses successfully add additional customer service channels? Millennial Services offers the following ideas for improving utilization:

1. Define Goals for Expansion

Ideally, improvements begin with defining longterm goals. These goals can act as roadmaps to help any business remain focused on its mission. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) goals can serve as benchmarks to gauge success.

As a rule of thumb, goals should be SMART. In particular, goals should clearly articulate what a business intends to achieve without ambiguity. The goals should also have quantifiable and associated metrics to help assess whether a goal has been achieved.

Examples of SMART goals that can help improve utilization rates include:

  • Increase the number of inquiries handled per hour.
  • Achieve a given percentage of utilization rates.
  • Decrease idle time by a set percentage.
  • Improve customer satisfaction ratings.
  • Increase overall team efficiency.

2. Set a Budget

A budget is a crucial tool for improving utilization. It will help ensure there are funds available for various expenses and outline precise financial allocations for all the prerequisites to add channels.

The budget should also include a surplus for unexpected expenses that may arise down the line. Some examples of basic budget allocations are support staff training and technology upgrades.

A reasonable budget for adding communication channels should set allocations for items like:

  • Process improvements
  • Subscriptions
  • Software purchases and implementations
  • Communication infrastructure and equipment upgrades and ongoing support
  • Automation and workflow optimization
  • Customer feedback
  • Miscellaneous expenses

By following a budget, businesses will know the exact amount needed to add extra channels to their existing communication system. A budget will help businesses ensure they don’t overspend while acquiring the resources necessary to improve utilization.

3. Partner With Experts

Improving utilization rates requires attention to detail, from technology selection to planning the actual transition. Without prior experience, businesses may miss vital information. This is why working with an end-to-end call center service expert can prove invaluable.

Experienced omnichannel implementation providers know how to integrate channels across various business scenarios to ensure customers can access all the necessary touchpoints and that the business has a mix of channels geared toward their specific customer base.

After identifying the proper communication channels for your optimized model, our experts will guide you through the various stages of implementation. Some other great reasons to use an end-to-end contact center service provider to improve utilization rates include:

  • Setting short and long-range goals: A provider will help their clients determine whether their goals are realistic in both the short-term and long-term. Providers will look at performance indicators and quickly identify if the desired goals are achievable.
  • Saving money: Channel integration specialists can recommend channels and technologies to fit any budget. They will have access to exceptional vendors. Their networks can spare businesses from spending more on what could have cost less.
  • Enhancing utilization: You will have access to insights and extra solutions like specific software to help any business increase its utilization rates.
  • Improving customer service: End-to-end call center service providers don’t just help with channel integration. They can also assess your existing support system and recommend improvements.

Let Millennial Services Help Improve Utilization by Adding Channels

When it comes to building an omnichannel support network, Millennial Services is the premier option. We assist our clients by providing the customer support solutions every business needs to offer first-class customer service.

Millennial supports businesses at every stage of the implementation process, from selecting channels to choosing, downloading, integrating, and managing your CCaaS software solutions. We are software agnostic and understand how to provide the right amount of post-implementation management services for clients with leaner staffing structures.

Contact us today and learn more about improving your omnichannel utilization.