Lorraine Kelleher at Spearline explains how research highlights the continued importance of phone calls to ensure an optimal customer experience. However, many organizations are blind to the issues impacting their external network.
Customer service has been a continually evolving area of business over the past number of decades. Not only have technological advancements altered how customer service is conducted, but consumers’ expectations have also dramatically changed.
Today, customers expect to be provided with an omnichannel offering where they can choose which channel to engage with and at the time that best suits them. This means that the majority of customer service offerings now operate on an around-the-clock basis and through multiple channels such as in-store, phone, social media, email, messaging, and live chat.
Continued Importance of Phone Calls
While individuals may be making fewer personal phone calls, they are still a vital component of customer service offerings. Research by Salesforce identifies that 61% of consumers still prefer to speak to someone over the phone when they require assistance.
This statistic is amplified when it comes to high-value decisions or issues which may be complex to resolve. In addition, 75% also believe that calling a business will lead to the quickest response time.
Another key element supporting the continued importance of phone calls is that they are more personal. Epsilon suggests that 80% of individuals have a greater willingness to buy from organizations that provide personalized services.
The power of ensuring that the caller feels valued and understood by the agent at the other end of the phone cannot be overstated. During a phone conversation, the agent is generally solely focused on the issue at hand, whereas agents who handle email or live chat requests are often simultaneously dealing with multiple interactions, thereby reducing the attention and diligence the caller receives.
Missed Calls and Voice Quality Issues
If a business misses a call from a customer or prospect, it can have serious implications for the organization. Firstly, there are the dreaded missed business opportunities – research in the United Kingdom suggests that, on average, 45% of all inbound calls result in a new inquiry – generating US $393 billion of new revenue within the UK.
However, the chance to create or build on an existing relationship with the customer can also be lost. In the event of a business being unreachable by phone, it is believed that the costs can be as high as US $26000 for a single day.
Equally important is the audio quality of the phone lines that the customer is calling. Poor voice quality can significantly impact the rapport between the caller and the agent, leading to a poor customer experience and potentially a significant loss in revenue. This may be due to significant time lags, latency, jitter, excessive background noise, or echo.
Each of these leads to frustrations on the part of both the organization’s agents and their callers. Subsequently, negative word of mouth may be created as customers voice their dissatisfaction. This can further erode a business’s brand reputation.
If an organization ensures that their customers have a smooth, high-quality interaction with low waiting times, they will increase the loyalty and affinity towards their brand. If not, businesses are effectively handing these consumers over to their competitors.
67% of customers cite poor customer service as their reason for leaving a company. Additionally, Zendesk details that after just one negative experience with an organization 4 out of 5 consumers would rather do business with a competitor.
The Value of Number Monitoring
Most customer-centric organizations invest in monitoring their internal telecommunication infrastructure and have stringent SLAs (service level agreements) with their providers in the hope that this will ensure high-performing lines for their customers.
However, this leaves businesses blind to occurrences external to their own network. Often, calls are routed through multiple destinations and providers prior to reaching their end destination. If audio quality deteriorates at any of these points, this poor quality will continue to be passed on at each stage and will ultimately be experienced by the caller.
Through number monitoring, organizations can ensure that their numbers function effectively and deliver optimal quality to customers. Teams are also enabled to reduce the number of ticket escalations they need to make. Such escalations can often be very costly.
Research by the Help Desk Institute indicates that the cost of investigating and addressing problems can be as high as US $500 per ticket. Labour is the largest percentage of these costs, with highly-trained staff having to work reactively to troubleshoot issues after they occur. These employees have a reduced capacity to advance other work, which could be central to advancing the business.
The Spearline Platform provides organizations with an end-to-end overview of their network. It replicates the call experience of customers across the world, to provide a thorough understanding of what the customer is encountering when they ring the business.
Each test call is also recorded, CDR (call details records) documented and analytics provided to ensure prompt issue identification. With such insights, decisions and corrective actions can occur much more quickly, before customers are negatively impacted.