A Complete Guide To Call Flows
In a perfect world, every customer interaction would be a unique and seamless experience where every problem and complaint is addressed quickly and accurately to the customer’s ultimate satisfaction. While the world may not be perfect, the best way to ensure a successful outcome for both customers and businesses is with call flows.
A call flow is more than just a basic script to help guide your company’s customer service experience with your contact center. It’s a unique opportunity to make an invaluable first impression, which may be the one and only chance to connect with your customer and deliver a positive and lasting impression of your brand.
Call Flows: What They Are and Why You Need Them
What is a Call Flow?
A Call Flow is a blueprint or road map to the ultimate customer service experience for your brand. It helps your customer service agents navigate client questions and provide a sense of control from the moment the call is answered. Call flows allow you to set the tone and flow of the call to eliminate as much uncertainty as possible.
You may have the best product or service in the world, but without customer loyalty and engagement, even the best companies will have to fight an uphill battle to engage a disgruntled or unsatisfied customer once they’ve been lost. Unfortunately, as customer service professionals know, the old adage that you only get one chance to make a good first impression is especially true in a call center.
As discouraging as it sounds, it can take a fraction of a second for a customer to decide whether they think your company is trustworthy, reliable, and worth their continued support and financial investment from the moment they first interact with one of your customer service agents.
That’s where your call flow comes in. Call flows are more than just a basic script to help your customer service agents navigate customer questions and complaints. They provide a sense of control from the moment the call is answered and allow you to set the tone and flow of the call to eliminate as much uncertainty—and the possibilities for negative and unsatisfactory outcomes—as possible.
Map Out Your Customer Journey
In order to figure out how to make the best impression as quickly as possible and to give your customers what they came for without wasting their time, you have to know where they’re coming from and have an accurate understanding of their potential pain points and questions.
How many points of contact does your customer have? Most companies offer their clients and customers multiple support channels including email, live chat, and live call-in customer support lines. There’s no better way to drive a customer into a rage and turn them off of your company (possibly for good) than to keep them waiting or make them jump through multiple hoops or confusing channels to get the answers to their questions.
What Makes a Good Call Flow?
A good call flow takes the guesswork out and simplifies the process down to a well-oiled and finely tuned system that can account for just about everything. This helps your customer service team focus on delivering customer satisfaction as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Omnichannel Call Process:
An omnichannel call flow takes all of your customer’s possible points of entry into account so that you can integrate live calls with digital channels (if you offer your customers more than one way to contact your customer service agents).
If you’re using an integrated omnichannel call flow, congratulations! You’re ahead of the curve! But if you’re using a silo with each entry point working somewhat independently, that’s okay too. Most companies are still working to reach omnichannel integration.
Here’s an example of the typical call flows for a non-omnichannel customer service experience:
- Customer initiates contact by sending the company a message through a chat function on the website
- A customer service agent responds and captures basic customer information
- Customer calls business back and speaks to a new agent who doesn’t have access to customer information from a chat conversation
- Customer requests SMS messaging
- New customer service agent responds to SMS and doesn’t have access to previous customer conversations and data
An omnichannel setup allows for integration with each interaction so the customer’s information is available to the customer service agents at every step of the journey. The smoother and more integrated your customer journey, the happier your customers will be.
How do you Create a Call Flow?
Designing a call flow may sound more complicated than it really is. Here are some basic questions to consider when getting started:
- How do your customers contact your customer service team: a phone call/email/SMS text messaging/live web chat?
- What happens at each stage of the process (Do they get a voicemail, automated menu, or autoresponder message at first contact? How many steps and levels of complexity are there before they can speak to a live customer service agent?)
- What’s the average response time?
- Do you offer resources to help the customer find basic information on their own before initiating contact with a customer service agent?
Try to think about as many scenarios as possible as they apply to your customer journey and your customer service policies. Visualize a detailed and targeted call flow map. Establishing all the possibilities regarding how and why your customers will contact you. This helps design a call flow that allows your customer service agents and operators to cut to the chase and troubleshoot service requests quickly and successfully.
The Nuts and Bolts of a Strong Call Flow
A call flow template is critical to managing your customer service operations, but your call flow should be unique to your company’s services and customer demographic. For example, if your service or products are skewed towards a younger audience, chances are that your customers are more tech-savvy and probably require less hand-holding than more traditional customers that are used to calling a customer service hotline and speaking to a live agent on the phone.
7 Elements of an Effective Call Flow
Remember that you have an incredibly short window to make a good first impression on your customers. The wrong greeting could be enough to alienate your customer before the call even starts.
When a customer takes time out of their day to make a call because of a technical issue with your service or product, they are probably already frustrated. A warm and friendly greeting, especially if they’ve been put on hold or passed around from one department to another, is the best way to establish a connection and make them feel like their call is actually important.
Typical greetings include a quick introduction, a “thank you” for calling, and then cut to the chase about the purpose of the call.
Authenticate and Locate (the Call Driver)
The trick to a good call flow is to make the customer feel heard and appreciated while moving them through the steps of the call as quickly as possible. In a call center environment, your customer service agents are typically dealing with large call volumes and intense pressure to successfully process as many calls as possible, as quickly as possible. A well-designed call flow helps them help you that much better.
At this stage of the call, the customer service agent verifies that they’re speaking to the right customer and then moves on to identify the driver of the call in order to figure out what to do next. Why is the customer calling?
Show some empathy and compassion
The challenge for customer service agents in a contact center is to resolve calls as quickly as possible while making the customer feel heard and valued, and definitely not like they’re being rushed through a script! After they identify the call driver, the next step in the call flow is to acknowledge the customer’s issue and express sympathy and offer to help resolve the issue to their satisfaction.
The transition is a critical point in the call flow. Depending on the nature of the issue and the caller, customer service agents can lose precious time and get bogged down in listening to an irate (or bored) customer run through a laundry list of complaints and details that may not be necessary to resolve the issue at hand. Scripted transitions may seem a bit forced or unnatural on paper, but they’re invaluable to help call agents keep the conversation on track and steer the customer in the right direction once they have identified the call driver.
The troubleshooting section of your call flow will probably be the most technical and detailed sector. This includes providing instructions to help customers resolve issues themselves if appropriate, knowing when to escalate specific issues, and routing calls that require more expertise from managerial staff.
If there are problems that the customer service rep can’t answer or resolve on their own, try to think about the most direct and uncomplicated route to get the customer the information they need.
Recap the call
At the end of the call, the agent should wrap things up by restating the purpose of the call, outlining the resolution and outcome of the call, and asking the customer if they have more questions before the phone call is complete.
Once the caller has obtained their objective, it’s important to end the call with a good impression of the company. A simple thank you and reiteration of the company’s values and dedication to customer satisfaction is the final piece of the call flow puzzle.
How to Customize Your Call Flows
While there are several essential elements that should be included in every call flow, your company’s needs are unique, and your call flows should reflect the needs of your customers. Once you’ve nailed down the technical elements of your call flows, work to design an intuitive experience that simplifies the process for your customers and makes it easy for your customer service team members to do their job.