How Australian businesses can cultivate customer relationships amid rising cost pressures

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How Australian businesses can cultivate customer relationships without cutting corners amid rising costs

Rising costs remain a persistent concern in Australia.

While the Australian government’s ‘cost of living relief’ measures have provided some relief, organisations continue to grapple with inflationary pressure.

Based on Ai Group’s Australian Industry Index, business overall has contracted in the year since May 2022, when the Reserve Bank commenced its current cycle of interest rate hikes.

Beyond the government measures, simply making a few marketing workflow adjustments and incorporating new solutions into the value chain can help businesses keep costs at bay in the face of rapid inflation – while still ensuring customer relationships remain a key priority. 

Do away with costly hardware upgrades

Organisations often shy away from building call centres, amid fears of draining the coffers and straining existing workloads.

After all, customer expectations will continue to shift with the availability of new customer channels, and it can be a struggle to keep pace with the cost of upgrading on-premise hardware solutions typically used in contact centres.

But these issues can be solved by investing in a newer breed of contact centres that are programmable and scalable, with the flexibility to support the easy integration or removal of channels based on business needs and allow adjustments according to seasonal call volume fluctuations. 

Betting on flexible consumption models can spare organisations from incurring costly maintenance expenses tied with legacy contact centre solutions.

Cloud-based contact centres allow businesses to make changes and iterate quickly without negotiating new contracts or waiting for new systems, translating to significant savings in the long run.

With the ability to expand usage needs on-demand, businesses won’t have to worry about additional time and costs associated with hardware updates. Businesses can also scale up and down easily as required, without penalties.

As they can easily build, deploy, and iterate with negligible impact on the operating budget, businesses will have better control over costs, without compromising the quality of business communications.

Make Agents Your Customer Experience Champions

Simplifying the agent experience is critical to the successful deployment of omnichannel customer experiences.

One common pain point is a siloed approach that leaves agents switching between numerous tabs, and which makes it challenging to resolve customer issues quickly.

Poor agent experiences can hinder productivity and negatively impact talent retention, which can ultimately also affect a business’s bottom line.

Many flexible contact centre solutions nip this issue in the bud by providing single-user interface functionality.

These interfaces consolidate data and information from customer interactions across all channels, equipping agents with a better understanding of a customer’s history while enabling them to easily pull up customer data and switch between channels.

This significantly reduces handling time and bolsters agent productivity, empowering agents to deliver better customer experiences. 

The shift towards greater integration has enabled companies such as AutoGuru to streamline call centre operations.

Unifying the sales lead-to-conversion process into a single channel has strengthened the ability of call centre agents at the Queensland-based company to track users and make follow-up calls, all integrated with their CRM. 

Automate for a Better Customer Experience

In the age of instant gratification, customers yearn for quick replies and accurate information.

Frustrating interactive voice response (IVR) experiences can damage customer relationships and even increase the cost per call.

Automating self-service use cases is a good supplement to constantly hiring human agents to fill in gaps — which can be costly and impractical as a business scales up.

With little to no coding needed, businesses can deploy personalised, conversational, intelligent virtual agents to answer common customer questions and provide 24/7 support across IVR and digital channels. 

Virtual agents can also serve as a valuable first point of contact for resolving common problems and improving call deflection, while humanising interactions by engaging more realistically with customers and holding more natural-sounding conversations.

Based on the virtual agent’s understanding of a customer’s historical interactions, they can tailor an experience that expedites time to resolution.

Mind the end of third-party cookies

Another complication marketers need to consider is the fast-approaching cookie sunset as Google, Safari, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge discontinue the use of third-party cookies on browsers.

This necessitates switching dependencies from third-party data and relying instead on data that consumers voluntarily and intentionally share with brands – or zero-party data. 

Based on a recent study, 62% of consumers in Australia are comfortable engaging with brands that directly get data from them instead of third parties, given higher data privacy expectations and increased awareness around risks associated with third-party data collection and storage.

Moving to zero-party data also enables brands to cut expenses significantly while improving their ability to personalise campaigns. 

Besides acquisition costs, brands can save on fees typically associated with engaging second and third-party data brokers.

Businesses also do not need to spend additional time and costs to verify customer data as they work towards improving customer engagement – as customers themselves are the source of information, zero-party data is ultimately a more accurate and direct peek into customer behaviour. 

Combining zero-party data and first-party data collected from interactions with consumers through a brand’s owned channels can arm marketers with rich insights that can improve the customer experience – whether these are around offers being made, or those that empower agents better in handling customer requests. 

In Summary

By learning first-hand what their customers’ needs and pain points are, businesses are better equipped to meet these demands and address barriers.

While there’s no telling when inflation will stop, doing a few strategic tweaks to the customer engagement value chain can help organisations cut costs without cutting corners. 

Ultimately, business resilience hinges on smart resource allocation, and businesses that are able to optimise their marketing budgets with a focus on scalability, flexibility, agility, and accuracy are better primed for growth amid economic headwinds.

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Preview of upcoming Symposium Sessions:

Nadine Power, ACXPA National Advisory Board Member

IVR Best Practice

Over 90% of contact centres are using an IVR (Press 1 for this, press 2 for that), and we've encountered many contact centres with over four layers of options for customers to select from. In this session, Nadine will be sharing some best practice tips on IVR design for 2024.

Presented by Nadine Power, Chief Product Officer, Datagamz (and ACXPA National Advisory Board Member)

ACXPA National Advisory Board Member Simon Blair

Tips to Boost Engagement on Calls

Of the five quality competencies we assess as part of the Australian Call Centre Rankings, the 'ENGAGE' competency from the Australian Contact Centre Quality Standards has consistently been at the bottom of the rankings throughout 2023 and into 2024.

In this session, Simon will provide some tips that can be shared with agents on how to increase engagement with customers at the start of calls.

Presented by Simon Blair, General Manager Quality Insights, ACXPA

More sessions announced soon! 

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