Home > Columns > CRM Columns

Contact centre calls: A premium service without the premium experience


Presented By: CrmXchange

Contributed article by: Neil Titcomb, SVP Global Sales, at IRIS Audio Technologies 

In a world of changing customer service expectations, consumers are measuring brands more than ever before. And, from messaging apps to website chatbots, they have plenty of touchpoints to interact with.  

In fact, a recent survey found that more than half of customers only use calls for critical issues. The very nature of contact centre calls are becoming a premium, yet they are not being matched with a premium experience.

So what’s the main culprit for unsuccessful – and often outright frustrating – customer calls? It’s background noise.

It’s rare for customers to call a contact centre when they’re in a quiet space. On the flip side, agents are typically either in a noisy call centre or at home with kids, pets, building works (and sometimes all three).

Noise is everywhere, and it’s getting in the way of successful customer calls.

What are the risks here? Of course, customer loyalty can falter, but it also impacts agent churn, wellbeing, and productivity. The greatest cost to any call centre is their people, and these people need to be able to do their jobs without disruption. Whether the KPI is to reduce time to resolution or have better quality calls, employers should be looking for ways to optimise their agents’ time and improve job satisfaction — all while keeping customers happy.

Why combatting background noise is the golden ticket for better call success rates

On paper, the link between background noise and call success rates may seem fairly innocuous, but it has a range of knock-on effects, including harming productivity, disrupting communication for both the agent and customer, and damaging overall wellbeing.

In its 2022 study of the contact centre industry, ContactBabel asked call centres to rate their customers’ most important factors on a call. The two most selected answers were ‘first-time resolution’ (45%) and ‘short queue / wait time for response’ (18%).

Of course there are several elements at play, but background noise has been proven to be a major issue on call results. Data from another survey into UK and US contact centre calls uncovered that nearly 9 in 10 (89%) call centre workers said background noise impacts key results, including the quality of calls, ability to communicate, and time to resolution.

When agents feel hampered in their work, frustration can take hold. The continual noise distractions, lack of clarity, and reduced success rate can quickly weigh on their mental health.

Retaining staff, improving customer satisfaction, and supporting wellbeing and happiness are pinned on the agenda board as considerable contact centre challenges - and background noise is indisputably a chief offender.

The risk, risk, risk of repetition on calls

What’s one of the biggest sticking points of background noise? Repetition. The above-mentioned survey into UK and US contact centre calls uncovered that 85% of customer service agents said background noise causes both agents and customers to waste time repeating themselves. It’s a costly process, both for people’s time and business budgets.

Saving just a few seconds per call by reducing repetition and preventing mistakes quickly translates into massive savings for call centres. When you do the maths, it’s a no brainer: take an average call centre that makes 50K calls per week, averaging 120 seconds each. Saving just 5 seconds of repetition amounts to 69 hours per week. Even at a low cost per hour of £18, you stand to save £65K a year. That’s 1-2 people’s annual salary!

How technology can transform customer and agent experiences

It’s all well and good listing the pros of ridding background noise. How can you actually get rid of something that is different for each user and happening in various locations?

Technology, as is most often the case in a digitised world, has a huge role to play in revolutionising contact centre call experiences for both the customer and the agent. Yet for years there hasn’t been a suitable or effective way to eliminate background noise.

Now, AI-powered voice isolation apps are able to remove distracting background noise on both sides of the call, allowing participants to have clear, smooth, and uninterrupted experiences no matter where they are.

Of course, finding a solution that can seamlessly pair with your existing setup and be scalable across the company is essential. With that in place, centres can transform the experience for both customers and agents.

Giving agents and customers the premium service they deserve

Customer contact calls have become a premium service - so agents and consumers rightfully expect a premium experience.

For companies, the costs of not tackling background noise can spark a variety of wider costs, the greatest of these being to their people.

The technology is now here to eradicate this ever-present problem. By taking out the nuisance of background noise, the latest AI-powered audio technology can revolutionise the customer call process, offering the premium experience it — and more importantly the people involved — deserve.