Prioritising Customer Experience in New Zealand Contact Centres

By Elias Kanaris, CEO of CCNNZ.

I believe it’s time to challenge the traditional priorities of our contact centres.

In Customer Experience, where immediacy is often the ultimate goal, the New Zealand contact centre industry has been focusing primarily on rapid responses and quick call handling times. However, in doing so, we may inadvertently be neglecting what truly matters—the customer experience.

In my time as CEO of CCNNZ, I’ve observed a fundamental truth that often goes unspoken: Kiwis are remarkably patient when they feel heard and valued, even when placed on hold. As long as their issues are resolved satisfactorily, and with empathy, the wait time becomes a secondary concern.

Reimagining the Customer Experience

The emphasis on faster service, often gauged by average handling times, can have a detrimental impact on the overall customer service experience. It places undue stress on our operators, leading to rushed interactions that lack empathy and understanding. This, in turn, diminishes the quality of customer service, ultimately affecting customer retention and loyalty.

CCNNZ strongly advocates for a shift in priorities within the New Zealand contact centre industry. Customer experience should be the focal point, superseding the singular pursuit of speed. By prioritising the following actions over mere velocity, we believe we can unearth a more profound connection with our customers:

  1. First Contact Resolution: Solving problems swiftly without the need for multiple interactions.
  2. Call Recognition: Acknowledging and valuing long-term customers by recognizing their loyalty and individual needs.
  3. Knowledgeable Operators: Prioritising operator knowledge, quick access to information, and empowering decision-making, which might also benefit from AI integration.
  4. Simplicity in Processes: Designing processes to provide a seamless and satisfying customer experience.
  5. Proactive Engagement: Anticipating customer needs and offering proactive solutions, even if it means providing alternative choices.

Finding a Balance with AI

While artificial intelligence (AI) may not inherently possess empathy, its potential lies in helping us strike a balance between speed, experience, and issue resolution. By leveraging AI’s ability to retrieve information swiftly, we can create a harmonious synergy where efficiency meets exceptional customer service.

It is pivotal for New Zealand’s contact centres to recognize that the most common metric of answering 80% of calls within 20 seconds should not be the sole benchmark for success. Instead, fostering a positive customer experience should be the ultimate goal.

As CCNNZ, it is our mission to prompt the industry to innovate and improve, not only to benefit employers and employees but also to position contact centres as leaders in customer experience rather than mere cost centres.

Let’s collectively strive for a future where every interaction, even if it involves a bit of hold time, leaves our customers feeling valued, heard, and ultimately satisfied. This paradigm shift not only improves customer retention but also contributed to the well-being of our contact centre staff—a win-win for all.

Contact

Elias Kanaris
CEO, Contact Centre Network New Zealand (CCNNZ)

Mobile: 021-615-449
Email: elias.kanaris@ccnnz.org.nz

About CCNNZ

Contact Centre Network New Zealand (CCNNZ) was established in April 2009 by Contact Centre professionals, created and nurtured by a group of dedicated Contact Centre professionals. Our community thrives on collaboration, shared knowledge, and the mutual goal of elevating customer contact standards across industries.

At CCNNZ, we are unwavering in our commitment to promoting excellence in every customer interaction. We believe every call, email, or chat presents an opportunity to create a positive impact, and we strive to empower our members to make the most of these interactions.

We serve as a dynamic network dedicated to inspiring, engaging, and connecting customer contact professionals from various fields and backgrounds. Through this network, we facilitate a vibrant exchange of ideas, strategies, and best practices, all aimed at enhancing the skills and knowledge of our members.

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