As we wrap up our month-long focus on the customer life cycle experience, we’re reminded of how conventional methods of customer service have had to shift their goals, pushed by the convenience of social technologies for customers to ask questions, lodge complaints and seek more information from brands. Take the contact center — live operators are standing by to take your call, but the truth is if you’re calling them, they know there’s going to be an issue.
Don't Call Me, Maybe
Recently we spoke with Ron Strandin, CEO at Envision about the ways customer service has evolved alongside the growth of social media. Previously, we discussed the ways social media could be integrated into call centers and CRM systems with Envision, but we never really considered how the voice of the customer has impacted the call center.
I asked Mr. Strandin if there was a difference between the phone calls of a customer who has previously used social media to contact a company and customer who only uses the phone to make contact. In other words, are they saying the same thing?
No, says Strandin.
To many customers, a phone call is an escalation. In fact, for many companies, the goal is keep customers from calling at all. As such, call centers know if you’re inquiring for the first time or if you've already contacted the company through online channels before picking up the phone.
When you think about it, it makes sense. When was the last time a phone call was your first line of defense? Which isn't to say that we all run to social media to Tweet our frustrations. For some of us, we're more likely to use an online form, live chat or write a bad review before we make a call.
And for good reason — it used to be that getting a real live person to listen to us was hard. There were wait times and it wasn't always convenient to make a phone call. Sometimes it's much easier to post a comment on a Facebook page and be pinged when a response is posted.
Don't Get Disconnected
However, the call center still remains. According to a study (and subsequent infographic) by Five9, 92 percent of customer service interactions still take place over the phone. However, a majority find these experiences unhelpful.
There are many reasons as to why customers are still resorting to phone calls — more than half of companies don't respond to comments on their Facebook page and 71 percent of companies ignored complaints on Twitter.
According to Mr. Strandin, the contact center industry is due for disruption and he welcomes it. As customer data expands, new technologies, from speech and text analytics to customer relationship management tools, can make it easier for call centers to apply it. Those that choose to ignore it or manage it by conventional means, will be setting themselves and their companies up for failure.
It isn't that making phones call will become obsolete. Rather, it's that companies need to ensure that before the customer picks up the phone, they've done all that they can to ensure a quality customer experience. When the customer calls, companies better make sure that they are prepared to solve problems or risk losing customers.