Forrester recently announced that online self-service has surpassed the traditional phone line as the most popular channel for customers — making agents working the phones now second in the customer service toolbox. Meanwhile, social media and mobile technologies continue to become a ubiquitous part of the digital customer service experience.
Forrester’s proclamation sounds like good news. It should equate to calls being deflected from the phone center to lower cost, digital channels. Deflected calls save call centers time and money, and also free agents to focus on more complex customer issues that require nothing less than the human touch.
You’d think getting your return on investment in digital avenues for customer outreach should be a no-brainer. But not so fast!
Forrester’s stats show your call center is still the escalation channel of choice for customers who can’t find answers to their questions using other channels. Poorly implemented digital solutions, with the singular goal of deflecting calls, often result in very little (if any) reduction in call volume.
Escalations go to phone so, effective use of digital channels will reduce call volume.
That’s because implementing the latest in omni-channel customer contact platforms is only part of the solution. You have to then treat these platforms as an extension of your company’s overall commitment to excellence in customer service.
Here are a few things you can do to optimize your digital contact solutions and raise the bar on customer satisfaction:
Keep in mind – timing is everything. Customer contact through social media and text message is a great start. But research shows that customers feel that response times through social media are painfully slow. Across industries, average response times exceed 10 hours, with average response rates coming in at under 20 percent.
Customers perceive social media, often used on a mobile device, as an immediate communication channel — more of a phone call than an email. Customers are sure to escalate their issue to the phone when they feel digital contact methods yield no results. Many of these calls may even be missed duplicates, giving the impression of an overall greater contact volume. Reduce response times and raise response rates through social and text and your traditional phone channel will experience tangible melt in call volume.
Tried and true — FAQ: It’s the ultimate in online self-help. But does your FAQ provide insights into the many variables your customers encounter? Most FAQs provide broad-brush answers to only the most common questions, but consider that every minute of investment in your FAQ could be paid back many times in deflected calls.
Beef up your online FAQ effectiveness:
- Make sure your FAQ is searchable
- Provide nested categories to meet variables that can convolute some questions
- Use content that already exists in your call center: knowledgebase, wiki and your social/text/chat support platform transcripts or logs can provide real-world answers to many of your customers questions
Go multi-channel: Research shows a tendency for more than one channel of communication to be recruited to resolve customer interactions. Customers will contact you using the channel that they believe will resolve their problem the fastest. But customers with more complex issues will require multiple communications, usually through multiple channels.
A multi-channel customer contact platform will help your call center contextually organize each customer issue. Recording each contact into a single narrative will help any agent track even the most complex problem through any channel. So, if a call does comes through on the phone, that agent’s time is used in the most efficient manner possible.
Digital and mobile communication channels have changed the face of customer service forever. But at heart, the objectives remain the same — provide fast, efficient solutions for customers’ problems. This basic goal of good service is mutually beneficial for your customers and your call center operation.