Call centers are undoubtedly the front line when it comes to customer engagement, and customers today use far more channels than just voice when contacting a center. This means that it is now imperative for organizations to undertake a digital transformation of their contact center, in order to ensure that they are able to deliver more personalized customer interactions. Not only will such a digital transformation open up new channels for customers to use, but it will also provide new opportunities for improved customer engagement and increased revenue.
Sure, voice clearly remains the most widely used channel in contact center interactions, as many customers still prefer the ‘human’ aspect that comes with talking to a real person about their problem. However, it should be noted that the voice channel is also on average around five times more expensive to the company than other digital channels.
This, of course, is just one of many good reasons to go digital. More channels can only create a more positive customer experience; it should go a long way towards enhancing your brand reputation, and you need to remember that smart mobile devices are starting to increase instant interactions with the contact center
Furthermore, the immediacy offered by these devices means that most customers today seek 24/7/365 support, and they expect to be able to get it anywhere and on any device. In addition, the millennial generation is practically born using digital channels.
It is the growing demand from segments of the customer base for self-service that is perhaps the biggest driver of all in pushing contact centers down the digital transformation route. An increasing number of people do prefer the idea of ‘doing it themselves,' rather than holding for however long it takes an agent to answer their call.
But, I hear you say, I already have self-service channels. My website, for one, which provides information to clients. Then, of course, there is my interactive voice response (IVR) solution, which is designed to allow users to handle basic requests, without needing to call an agent, so I’m digital already.
You may have an IVR, but have you noticed that most customers generally dislike using this technology? Standard IVR generally does little more than increase client frustration, as they either fail to understand how to navigate the IVR menu properly or have a problem the IVR is simply not equipped to solve.
So instead of solving their problem, they end up having to ultimately join a voice queue to wait for an agent, all the time seething with frustration about the failure of the solution they already tried. Then, when they finally get through to said agent, they have to start at the beginning again, explaining who they are and what their particular challenge is. Making customers jump through this kind of hoops is the very opposite of good service.
And yes, having a website that offers a Web chat option is a step in the right digital direction, but the true value of digital transformation is the ability to gather customer data and have that available in context, for those instances where a customer does transition to a voice call. If you are able to ensure your agent is fully aware of who they are talking to, what their problem is and which steps they have already taken in attempting to resolve it, the customer’s earlier frustration is immediately smoothed over, and your agent is able to set about delivering the kind of customer service that sets you apart from the competition.
So then, how do you facilitate digital transformation and ensure that context is available to agents, should the customer leave the self-service platform and seek out an agent instead?
That’s easy: what you need to do is implement a visual IVR solution. This offers all the benefits of a standard IVR, without any of the drawbacks. As long as your customer is calling from a smartphone (and the greater portion of today’s callers do) a visual IVR can take advantage of this fact, supplying the customer with a menu that they can see for themselves – so no more struggling to hear the options being read out to you, or finding the menus to be too long and involved.
Instead, the customer can see the various options available to them and simply touch their way through the IVR. This increases their ability to both absorb and enter complex data, as well as making it simple to scroll back in order to choose a different option. Making life easier for your clients should be high on your priority list at all times, and a visual IVR also means you can offer slightly more complex resolutions than you would be able to with one that was purely voice-based.
Visual IVR, in fact, offers enterprises the best of both worlds. Not only is it the ideal support platform to guide inbound callers to a web-based support experience, allowing them to easily transition from a voice call into a digital session, it can also seamlessly connect customers to other self-service options and/or an agent support resource.
And as we have already mentioned, if they do transition back from the digital channel to an agent, this person will be well positioned – thanks to the context visual IVR provides – to solve their problem or inquiry at first contact. This should result in significantly reduced handle times and increased customer satisfaction.
But, I hear you say, times are tough, and with the economy as tight as it is, we simply don’t have the budget to purchase a visual IVR solution. That, unfortunately, is short-term thinking at its worst. Sure, you may have to spend a little more upfront, but the long-term benefits far outweigh the short-term costs.
In fact, every minute where you don’t have an easy-to-use, effective digital option that is perfectly positioned to serve as a gateway to draw customers into an ever-deepening digital world, is one where you are losing money.
I have already pointed out that voice calls cost significantly more than digital self-service channels, so every call that is avoided by having the customer do it themselves instead is money in the bank. And yes, you could opt for the standard IVR, but we already know that this is more likely to frustrate and anger a customer, which is the opposite of what you wish to achieve.
On the other hand, offering customers a simple, easy-to-use tool that is visual in nature and allows them to get on with the task of solving their particular issue, without having to hold for an agent, is something most customers will find pretty attractive.
If they don’t find that attractive, they will surely be overjoyed to find that – even when transitioning to an agent – the person on the other end of the line is already aware of their woes and quite possibly already has a solution in hand.
This is what customer service is all about – it is the stuff that money can’t buy, and you can’t really quantify. What I can guarantee you is that in the modern world, loyalty no longer exists and the only way to truly differentiate yourself is through exceptional customer service. If you deliver on this promise, you will get return business from the customer, and you may even attract new ones, thanks to effective word of mouth - which today may also include great reviews on widely read platforms like social media.
So instead of wondering whether you can afford to invest in a new customer service channel, the real question you should be asking yourself is: how soon can I implement visual IVR?