Tony Iero

Why Your Customers Are Still Calling Your Contact Center

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Here we are, three months into 2019, and the twin innovations of artificial intelligence and automation haven’t meaningfully disrupted the voice channel for customer service.

We were all concerned about that not too long ago, remember? AI tools like chatbots and digital or IVR self-service were destined to help your customers handle basic issues at their own convenience, drastically cutting down on the transactional calls made to contact centers. Theoretically this was going to free your customer service agents to work on more complex, meaningful interactions with your customers. And so businesses rushed to implement some form of AI before they were left behind.

But the latest statistics show that, not only are customers internationally still calling contact centers, they still prefer voice over digital channels. As noted in CCW’s recent special report titled “Augmenting Contact Center Automation”:

  • Nearly 55 percent of customers say they are comfortable receiving support from bots; however,
  • More than 71 percent of customers, across all age demographics, prefer phone/voice for customer service.

Why?

The report lays it out pretty clearly:  “Eighty-five percent of customers call voice agents not for a different type of experience but because they believe it is their best shot at a fast, simple, resolute conversation.”

Fast, Simple, Resolute

Those three little words perfectly sum up what your customers want most: Their issues handled with as little time and effort on their part as possible. This isn’t unreasonable or extravagant, and your customers know it. That’s why they they’ll head to your competitors as soon as their expectations aren’t met.

Surely adding to customer frustration is the fact that they’ve been very clear about what annoys them, yet these frustrations haven’t been eliminated. According to CCW’s 2018 Market Study on Performance & Metrics, these grievances are:

  • Long wait times
  • Having to repeat information when moving between channels or even between agents

However, here’s what the performance report found about organizations:

  • 37 percent frequently hear these complaints from their customers
  • Nearly 55 percent admit their customers never can move between channels without repeating information.

Yet when asked what actions they’re going to take to reduce customer effort, only 29 percent plan to build a universal profile for each customer.

Your Agent Effort

Let’s examine the other half of the customer service equation and see if automation has made life any easier or more productive for agents. According to the CCW reports quoted above, technologies that are disconnected, slow and/or difficult to use are the greatest sources of agent frustration today:

  • More than 81 percent of agents typically access multiple screens or systems while supporting customers
  • The amount of time agents spend on repetitive tasks is the #2 performance challenge in contact centers
  • Nearly 40 percent of organizations say their agents can’t “recognize” customers as they escalate from digital channels

No wonder customers would rather just cut to the chase and call first!

2019: The Year of Fixing It

It seems clear that, for many contact centers, implementing AI didn’t solve problems as expected and may have caused a few more. In the CCW performance report, 52 percent of organizations said fixing disintegrated systems will be a top priority, and 53 percent plan to improve customer routing to reduce customer effort. In CCW’s market study “The Future of the Contact Center in 2019,” the percentage of organizations raising implementation of a virtual queuing or callback solution to “urgent investment” status rose to 43 percent (up from 36 percent the year before).

AI does have great potential for improving contact center operations; a well-attuned mix of agent and automation is not only better for customers, it’s also more efficient, which maximizes profit. The goal should be to leverage AI and automation to provide your customers and agents exactly what they need, at the exact moment they need it. Fast, simple and resolute — not just for your customers as they’re making decisions during their journey, but also for your agents as they’re trying to solve customer problems. Agents really can have the information at their fingertips to make personalized suggestions to each customer based on their recent channel activities and even past purchases. And we’re not talking about some complicated capital expenditure that you’ll have to work into your budget for next year. We can help you do it now.

The roots of VHT Digital go back 20 years, when we first started patenting our virtual queuing solutions for contact centers. In that time we’ve expanded our products beyond voice callback and into all digital channels, even social and mobile (and how much will your mobile customers appreciate not having to waste minutes and battery life on hold while they’re on the go?). We’ve intentionally designed our solutions to ride easily over the top of all your existing infrastructure, eliminating expensive and time-consuming installation periods. So even your solution can be fast, simple and resolute. Give us a chance to show you; contact us today.

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