Neil Hammerton, CEO of Natterbox, gives a seasonal take on “nightmares” that contact centre customers may have to deal with.
Halloween falls but just one night a year, giving us the opportunity to truly face our fears. The ghosts, ghouls and witches come out to roam the streets, but are they really what we’re afraid of? What about the nightmares we face all year round?
To me the real stuff of nightmares are the calls we make to contact centres. But what do we fear most when we make that dreaded phone call? Is it the abundance of options to choose from, the scripted voice at the end of the line, finding there is no one to help – or maybe it’s them all!
The Haunted Contact Centre
In an age ruled by social media platforms like WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, the younger generation are becoming increasingly reliant on the ability to hold conversations without the need for face-to-face contact. As such, it’s no surprise that the generation in question, also known as ‘generation mute’, are finding it more and more difficult to pick up the phone and actually speak to another human being at the other end of the line.
So, it can be quite disheartening to find that, when you do finally work up the courage to phone a customer service line or another form of contact centre, there is no one suitable available to help. You speak to what feels like hundreds of different people who aren’t trained in a relevant area of the business, only to eventually be told that you are going to need to try calling another time in order to be able to speak to the person that you really need.
Trick or Treat? The Risk of Giving Away Financial Data
Consumers now hear almost every week on the news about a new data breach impacting them and putting their personal data at risk. They hear about those stories and know they might be next on the list of victims – making them increasingly worried about what happens to their financial data when they pass it on to companies to make payments over the phone. Consumer trust is now the hardest thing for companies to gain and retain, in the wake of such high-profile data breaches.
As a result, companies are becoming increasingly concerned about compliance – as they know that they can’t afford the financial and reputational loss a hack or data breach could cause in the GDPR era. On top of the heavy fines they would be subjected to, their turnover could be seriously affected by customers deciding to switch to rival businesses. Financial information is one of the most sensitive sources of data for companies to handle, and it is now imperative for them to put in place the strategies that will reassure customers that their information will never be put at risk.
It’s no surprise that the handling of financial data over the phone is a year-round nightmare for not only the caller but the organisation on the other end of the line as well.
Hearing Voices in the Night
When we dial that number, chances are, we have something specific that we want to discuss. If it was a simple request for help or information, the likelihood is we could have found our answers using an online portal.
For this reason, it can be incredibly frustrating to be met with an abundance of automated options, none of which match the topic we are calling to discuss. Often, we choose the one that seems most suitable, as it’s the only thing we can do, but what we really want is a human being who can help us, not only quickly and efficiently, but in direct relation to our reason for calling.
The Faceless Villain
Personalisation is often the key to forming a good customer relationship, and it’s what we expect from a company that we feel we have been loyal to.
So why is it that we are so often confronted with a scripted customer service agent that leaves us hanging up the phone with a sour after taste? After all, all we want is an empathetic, or simply understanding, ear to understand our reasons for calling, so that we can find a solution and feel our time hasn’t just been wasted.
So this Halloween, when the ghosts come calling and the witches fly past, remember that we face much bigger nightmares throughout the rest of the year. But rest assured that help is coming in the form of emerging technologies. We are now seeing an increasing adoption of truly helpful tech such as the likes of artificial intelligence and machine learning. As such, the future of the contact centre may not be so bleak, and this time next year, our calls will likely be much more personalised to our specific needs, and real-time translation may even be on the tarot cards.