Anticipating What Customers Need from Customer Service

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Customer Engagement
Customer Service
This week, I'll be attending Enterprise Connect in Orlando where I expect to have a lot of discussions with people about communications trends involving the contact center and customers. Based on the content in the meeting invites I've received, I also expect a lot of chatter about WebRTC, Unified Communications, and the expanding use of video to strengthen the customer experience. While each of these represent important developments for connecting with today's omnichannel customer, consumer sentiment suggests that many companies still have a long way to go in improving a popular customer touchpoint: voice.

This week, I'll be attending Enterprise Connect in Orlando where I expect to have a lot of discussions with people about communications trends involving the contact center and customers. Based on the content in the meeting invites I've received, I also expect a lot of chatter about WebRTC, Unified Communications, and the expanding use of video to strengthen the customer experience. While each of these represent important developments for connecting with today's omnichannel customer, consumer sentiment suggests that many companies still have a long way to go in improving a popular customer touchpoint: voice.Countless studies conducted on this topic underscore the frustration that customers have with traditional call center support. For instance, a 2015 study conducted by Consumer Reports found that 57 percent of consumers were so frustrated with their customer service experiences that they hung up the phone before without a resolution.

Part of the problem is that too many contact centers are focused on efficiency (i.e. calls handled per agent per hour) instead of being better prepared to resolve the issues customers are most likely calling about. As a result, this places undue pressure on contact center agents to "handle" each call quickly, even if the customer's issue hasn't been adequately resolved.

Think about your recent experiences with companies where you received satisfactory or even great phone support. Chances are, you weren't placed on hold for an inordinate amount of time if at all. Moreover, you almost certainly weren't transferred repeatedly between departments to resolve whatever issue you were trying to resolve. Whatever issue you had was likely handled quickly and directly by the agent. One knowledgeable, empowered agent.

One of the trends that's continuing to evolve in customer service is that as customers increase their use self-service channels to resolve problems or issues on their own, they're typically reaching out to a human agent to assist with more complex issues. Smart companies get this and they're training their agents to handle these issues for customers. Forward-thinking companies are also empowering agents to resolve more issues for customers themselves without having to check with their supervisor for sign off.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION