Mike Palmer at Spearline explores how in addition to the traditional voice call, customers now have a range of ways to engage with contact centres. These include email, instant messaging, apps, and social media. Despite having so many choices, customers still find it easier to talk.
Surveys consistently find that customers are content to use automated systems or chat for simple interactions.
However, when they have a problem or a complex question, they prefer to talk. Alternative communication channels are growing in popularity. Even so, customers still call more than they use any other channel, and it is likely to remain so in the future.
This is good news. Person-to-person interactions are a real opportunity to provide a great customer experience. They can build confidence in your brand. Research by BearingPoint found that out of the various communication channels, “voice calls have the strongest impact on sales and customer satisfaction.”
Why Is It Easier to Talk?
The average typing speed is about 40 words per minute, while the average conversation rate for English speakers in the United States is about 150 words per minute. So when time is short, it makes more sense to talk on a voice call than to type.
Of course, there is much more to communication than words. With video calls, we have facial expressions and gestures, and with audio calls, we have tone, intonation, rate, and pauses. These all contribute to a much richer interaction.
Misinterpretation of text messages can cause confusion. This can lead to frustration and even irritation on both sides of the interaction. When two people are talking, misunderstandings are less common. If they do happen, they become apparent quickly and are easier to resolve.
When customers have more complex questions or a problem they feel anxious about, it’s simply easier to explain the context in a call and have a two-way conversation.
The Future of Customer Interactions
The best contact centres offer a range of communication methods to suit personal preferences and the purpose of the interaction.
Automated systems, chatbots, and interactive voice response (IVR) are ideally suited to simple interactions. These can increase customer satisfaction by resolving minor queries quickly and efficiently.
IVR systems are becoming more sophisticated. Some systems can even replicate human-like conversations between a voicebot and a customer. Soon, customer interactions may begin with a voicebot and then be smoothly transferred to a real agent when necessary.
Certain types of customer interactions will always require the type of assistance that a conversation with another human provides.
To function properly, IVR systems, voicebots, voice user interfaces (VUI), and person-to-person conversations all rely on good audio quality. The voice channel, in one form or another, is here to stay. Therefore, it’s critical to consider it in your overall customer engagement strategy.