Finding: Contact Center Needs to Keep Lines Open
January 26, 2016
We’ve all seen the reports and heard the word: ‘Omnichannel’ is the new way to go in the call center. Yet there seems to be one important point that everyone, in their rush to embrace the latest and greatest, is missing: Customers LIKE using the phone.
That’s the position of Joshua Feast, CEO and co-founder of Cogito Corp., manufacturers of software that empowers phone professionals to deliver a more engaging and caring customer experience. In a recent piece posted on CustomerThink.com, Feast spelled out his case as to why the telephone should still hold a prominent place in a company’s efforts to make the customer experience the best it can be.
“Companies are looking to text, Web self-service, instant messaging and just about any other method they can find to deliver a better customer experience,” Feast noted. “But while all of those channels can be useful in retaining customers and building loyalty, too many brands are not paying enough attention to the most important customer channel they have: the telephone.”
He goes on to cite research from Forrester (News – Alert) that said the phone is still the most widely used customer contact tool. Among the Forrester findings was the revelation that customers want companies to value their time, with some 71 percent of consumers saying that doing so “is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service.”
Companies that fail in this area do so at their peril. Feast points to an Arizona State University study that said “Despite the rise of the Internet, people are still 11 times more likely to complain via phone than Web.” And if they’re going to complain, wouldn’t you like the chance to respond directly and immediately?
“Omni-channel strategies can produce results to a point, but there is still no replacement for a call center that provides superior customer service,” Feast adds. “Agents with excellent communications skills, who can build genuine connections with customers, are more valuable than ever in what Accenture (News – Alert) calls the ‘switching economy’.”
So what’s holding them back?
“Call-center agents become disengaged over time and often feel powerless to help customers,” Feast says. “They fail to build the kind of strong rapport with customers that will ultimately provide a more rewarding experience for the customer and the agent alike.” Further, “Supervisors and call center executives face significant measurement challenges. They currently lack an objective, automated and comprehensive means by which to measure and teach the communication skills that are at the heart of a phone call,” he believes.
Still, all is not lost. The biggest takeaway from Feast’s observation is that the problem is solvable; it just takes savvy management to recognize the issue and do something about it.