With social media, forums and other online tools, the trend in customer service is moving towards creating more channels where customers have an option for self-service.
It’s a strategy that has served many companies well, helping them to increase automation and reduce staffing and training costs in the longer term. Additionally, many customers seem to prefer self-service, saying that it’s more convenient and efficient.
Some even question if it’s the beginning of the end for call centres. With self-service channels increasing in popularity, will there even be a need for manning telephones with contact centre advisors?
The answer is yes – because there are times where nothing but talking to a live person will do. And to prove the point, here are five examples of when this is the case:
1. The customer is frustrated, angry or upset
Nobody likes to receive the call with an irate customer on the other end of the line. But from another perspective, if the customer is already frustrated, the last thing they want is to have to search through reams of information to find what they’re looking for.
Directing an irate customer to FAQs is more likely to blow their fuse than to resolve a query satisfactorily, even if it is a simple query.
Seasoned contact centre advisors will tell you that an empathetic voice on the other end of the line can get the issue resolved quickly and is more likely to achieve a higher level of customer satisfaction.
2. The query is too complex
Self-service is great for routine queries that have a simple solution. But complex queries need someone who can reason through the various issues and come up with a creative solution to the problem.
Perhaps a customer query requires talking to several different departments or following a detailed process. To expect the customer to do this on his or her own is a big ask and could result in a negative customer experience.
One of the reasons for setting up self-service channels is to free up contact centre agents to deal with more complex queries. Having knowledgeable contact centre advisors who are trained and empowered to help customers is where the true value of voice lies.
3. The customer is too busy
Despite the benefits of self-service, not everyone has the time to browse forums and FAQs to find the answers they’re looking for, and not having voice customer service as an option could frustrate them. A busy customer needs and wants answers now and being able to ask someone rather than search for answers themselves is what they’re really after.
Of course, this will only be an effective solution if the call waiting time is short and they get through to someone who is skilled enough and empowered to resolve their query.
4. The internet access is unreliable
In areas where internet access is intermittent or unreliable, voice is likely to be the customer’s preferred service channel. While the internet is a wonderful tool to access information, without a reliable connection, it can be frustrating trying to find answers.
In this instance, good old voice wins hands down, as it is often the fastest and most efficient solution for the customer.
Never assume that all customers have easy and efficient online access to the information you’re putting out there, as it may be just the reason why they are calling instead of going online.
5. The search is ineffective or not user friendly
It is not enough to have the information customers want available on the website or social media channels. They need to be able to find the information they need easily.
One of the mistakes that companies make when creating self-service channels is not investing enough in creating effective search tools or not organising the information in a search-friendly way. If customers can’t find the information they’re looking for, you can bet they’re going to be calling in for help, which defeats the object of having self-service channels in the first place.
The lesson here is that companies need to decide what resources they want to use and then implement effectively. If you’re only going to make a half-hearted effort at setting up self-service channels, the likelihood is that call volumes will increase and customer satisfaction will decline, because the people calling in will not only have a problem, they’ll also be frustrated with not being able to find a solution.
While multichannel customer service is likely to become the norm and channels offering self-service are likely to increase, the value of voice should not be discounted.
For all the advances in technology, there are many times when a real voice on the other end of the line makes all the difference to the customer experience.
Well-trained, knowledgeable contact centre advisors are assets worth investing in, because when all other channels fail, they are the ones who can save the day.