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Talk the talk and walk the walk with inbound process

Perfecting your inbound process is the key to great customer support. Improve response times, track calls and monitor performance with a phone support solution.

By Leighton Jacobs

Last updated May 15, 2023

Even in the digital age, inbound call centres play an important role in customer support. For all their benefits, AI and digital solutions can’t replace that human touch. Indeed, a TCN Survey found that 69 per cent of consumers still prefer talking to a live agent by phone.

It’s no surprise then that inbound call centres are the beating heart of many businesses. They handle customer enquiries, provide support, and manage customer relationships. So let’s pull back the curtain on the inbound process and take a look at exactly how inbound call centres operate.

Inbound services

As the name suggests, inbound call centres handle incoming customer queries via phone. But many also handle queries over a variety of channels including email, social media, live chat, texts, and more. Regardless of channels though, all inbound call centres will provide one (or both) of two key services:

Support service
Resolving customer issues is the bread and butter of call centres—from technical and account support to answering questions and handling complaints. Whether they’re looking to upgrade or track their order, customers want swift solutions. So your teams need to be helpful and efficient.

Sales service
The inbound process for sales is all about turning prospects into customers. Agents should be ready to answer product questions and provide tailored advice to guide customers on purchasing decisions. It’s also a great opportunity for upselling and cross-selling, as callers are already in a buying mode.

The inbound process

The inbound process is a crucial cog in any company. It’s all about handling customer enquiries, providing support, and managing customer relationships. We’ve broken it down into six simple steps.

1. Call

It all starts with a customer calling your company. This call can go either to your own call centre or an external BPO call centre. But no matter where your inbound calls end up, they need to be processed and sorted. Enter interactive voice response (IVR).

In simple terms, IVR is an automated phone system that answers incoming calls and collects information from callers. This helps ensure the caller speaks to the right person. Plus, it’s a great way to improve productivity by reducing agent workload.

2. Routing

When you know why someone is calling, you can route their call to the right department, e.g. tech support for technical problems. Calls can even be sent to specific agents, e.g. if they have an existing relationship with the customer. And if no one is available, callers can be placed in a queue, which saves them having to leave a message for you to call them back.

Manual call routing is often slow and error prone. But this is where contact centre solutions can help. They allow you to implement call routing systems that automatically connect customers to the right department, agent, or self-serve option for great customer experiences.

3. Assessment

Once connected, it’s time for call centre agents to shine. Your customer service team is the voice of your business, so it’s vital they’re trained to handle calls professionally and efficiently.

IBM reports that agents spend a staggering 75 per cent of the average customer service call trying to find the information they need. Fortunately, phone support systems put all the information your agents need right at their fingertips, e.g. a customer’s complete history plus any details provided by IVR. This helps teams cut to the chase and avoids customers having to repeat themselves.

4. Attempt

After listening to the customer, it’s time to try to resolve their issue—whether it’s a complaint, product query, or order problem. This is where agent training comes in, so make sure your team is fully up to date with all your company and customer service policies.

Your aim is always to solve the customer’s issue during this first interaction, commonly known as first contact resolution (FCR). That’s why support agents need to know your products and services like the back of their hands. Helpful advice can only come from a place of knowledge—like the right phone support system.

5. Escalation

Some issues are bigger than others. And that’s okay because agents can pass on—or escalate—thorny problems to relevant teams or specialists. Complex issues though might need more time and, in these cases, it’s critical to follow up with customers once a solution has been found.

Contact centre solutions make it easy for agents to work together to solve tricky problems—from anywhere and on any device. And even if it takes a little longer than expected, you can send customers automatic updates to keep them in the loop. Plus, automated reminders ensure nothing slips through the cracks.

6. Resolution

The ultimate goal of any inbound call centre is also the final step in the inbound process. Once a customer’s query has been resolved, you can update the customer and end the call. Nice work—you’ve completed the inbound process.

But if you’re using a phone support solution, the system will also automatically close and log the query for future reference. And don’t forget that all this recorded data makes it easy to monitor agent performance using predefined KPIs like average handle time. This helps you stay on track and meet your SLAs.

Give Zendesk a call

Your inbound process should deliver great customer service experiences for every caller. With Zendesk phone support software you can resolve issues faster, track your performance, and provide seamless support across every channel.

Zendesk Talk is our phone support software embedded in the Zendesk ticketing system. You can use it to track calls, implement IVR, create routing systems, and much more. It’s also cloud-based for all the flexibility and customisation you need.

Use our in-depth analytics and real-time reporting to help you understand where you can improve, and respond to more calls faster without having to switch between systems. Get started in minutes and wow your customers all the way from “hello” to “goodbye”.

Find your voice with Zendesk