Customer service in organisations can absorb a large part of the company’s budget and particularly in start-ups or during periods of rapid growth, it is essential to avoid building contact centre resources into the business which may not be needed as the organisation stabilises or matures. For any service oriented company putting ‘bums on seats’ is rarely the most cost effective approach and, even more importantly, isn’t always what customers want. Nowadays customers expect choice in terms of how they interact with companies. This not only enhances the customer experience but can provide forward thinking companies with differentiation over their competitors. We’ve all had bad experiences of automated services via IVRs (call routers) but likewise we’ve had equally awful interactions with contact centres where we are left holding, given incorrect advice, stuck in a ‘conversation’ that is frankly taking too long due to slow systems or lack of trained contact centre staff. I won’t bore you with my experience of an unnamed organisation that took six (yes, that’s six) hours of continuous live interaction with a contact centre to completely strip my PC of functionality. Several more hours on the phone, 3 broadband boxes and an engineer visit finally fixed what should have been a simple problem to resolve. A good self-help, online guide would have resolved the problem in minutes.
In short, a well developed and delivered customer self-serve experience is quicker and more consistent with the added advantage to the organisation of reduced cost and better reporting on types and reasons for customer contact, providing clear messages on what products, policies and processes may need attention and development. It’s the difference between trying to avoid speaking to your customers via ‘bottomless’ IVRs and charging for calls and, even worse, those companies who charge you for the privilege of wading your way through their IVR, eventually thinking you’ve found a ‘live’ agent only to be told they are all busy and you’re in a queue (we all know of lots of organisations guilty of this!) versus creating an exciting range of options for them to interact with you in their chosen way.
So come on businesses out there; listen to the voice of the customer to ensure you deliver the channels and services to enable them to choose how they resolve their queries and upsell to themselves.