Call centers, perhaps they should more aptly be named "discover your inner hulk centers." Arguably the most frustrating part about call centers is that no one seems to pick up the phone, leaving customers stuck on the eternal loop of listening to terrible automated messages or music that is worse than elevator tunes. In a move that is fitting of the Comcast renaming branding fiasco of 2010, call centers are now being renamed contact centers. The question that remains is, "does the name change really mean anything for the future of phone support?"
Does Phone Support Still Have A Cross-Generational Appeal?
The phone support industry might not be growing, but it isn't declining as rapidly as some reports might have you believe. In fact, over the past year, an estimated 80% of customers have contacted customer support centers. The reason for so many calls? Frustration (which is actually ironic when you consider how hard it is to reach the right department or an actual person when dealing with archaic call centers).
While younger generations may prefer texting or social media, the statistics show that phone support still has cross generational appeal.
- • An estimated 83% of people ages 55 and older believe that phone numbers need to be clearly displayed on web pages and within mobile apps.
- • An estimated 77% of people ages 16 - 34 believe that contact phone numbers should be prominently displayed.
- • The average call time has gone up in many industries, with the financial sector seeing a 40% increase over the past few years.
- •85% of customers report issues with apps (with the majority of customers being forced to follow up with calls to customer support).
- •When directed to websites to resolve customer support issues, an estimated 92% of customers report problems (once again leading to the need to place customer support phone calls).
- •61% of customers report that they often know more about the product or service in question than the person on the other end of the customer support phone, email, or chat service.
With these statistics in mind, one thing is certain -- customer service is in need of a 360-degree review that takes into the account the changing communication preferences, as well as the growing needs of today's customers.
So what should customer support look like in 2018? Click here to find out.
What Are The Digital Alternatives Available To Contact Center Teams?
A recent cross-industry study estimated that by 2020 up to 85% of all customer service interactions won't need the intervention of a human advisor. In other words, the rise in customer service omni-channel technologies means that digital alternatives will continue to grow and play increasingly critical roles for contact center teams. The following technologies are expected to greatly influence the way companies deliver customer support services.
- Automate Simple Tasks With AI. -- A traditional contact center relies on the frontline agents. These individuals are often responsible for handling simple and typically repetitive tasks. Unfortunately, these mundane tasks often take away time that could be sent effectively providing top-notch services to customers. Fortunately, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is set to take over these simple tasks through automated services. AI could be used to tag and categorize emails, respond to basic inquiries, and reroute calls. The beauty of AI technologies is that they can also improve job satisfaction ratings amongst call center employees.
- Face-to-face Video Communications Will Continue To Grow. -- Any sales representative will tell you that eye contact is especially important when dealing with dissatisfied individuals. As a result, experts predict that video communications will start to be used within customer support centers. Research shows that the videos should improve relationships, facilitate a sense of openness, put customers at ease that they are speaking with an actual human who understands how emotional needs, and increase brand trustworthiness.
- Social Media And Messaging Will Continue Proliferating Complaints. -- It's no secret that we live in a mobile-friendly world that promotes instantaneous connections across the globe. In day's gone by, customers had to wait until they got home to post a negative Yelp review. Now, they can immediately post a Yelp, Google+, Facebook, and any other social media review that they want in a matter of seconds. The latter scenario is the beauty and the curse of social media. It allows brands to readily connect with their customers, but it also puts them at a significantly higher risk for publicly displayed and widely shared poor customer service experiences. Fortunately, as social media continues to evolve, customer support contact centers can now dedicate entire divisions to handling negative and positive reviews. The latter strategy opens the doors for seamless connectivity and an immediate response time to customer feedback, comments, questions, or concerns. By removing the lag time between customer reviews and a company response, brands can more readily turn bad press into good press as they actively seek to repair damaged customer relationships. It also creates the opportunity for customer service agents to direct customers to call or email specific agents to further expedite the solution. This multi-channel approach gives customers the personal touch that they expect from businesses.
The goal of the above three technologies is to give customer support contact centers the flexibility and tools they need to effectively move beyond just a simple phone call. By adopting the right digital technologies, contact centers can create positive customer experiences that lead to brand loyalty and deliver the competitive edge needed for business success.
The Future Of Phone Support Is Looking Bright
The call center might have been renamed the contact center (or the customer support contact center), but its future is anything but precarious. Going forward, phone support will continue to play a vital role. There will always be people who prefer to pick up the phone and speak with a customer representative, rather than trying to resolve things via email, chat, or social media. However, the manner with which phone support is delivered will need to evolve so it becomes a cohesive part of the entire customer support experience.
Customer support contact centers will need to leverage the right technologies, so that they can more effectively respond to the individual needs of every customer. Responding to these needs means focusing on customer success. By focusing on the customer's success, contact centers can not only deliver the needed support, but they can also play a critical role in increasing customer satisfaction levels. If contact centers learn how to cater to the customer's success via phone support, email, chats, social media, AI, and video calls, then the future is indeed looking bright.