Are Call Centers Losing Relevance?
Over the past decade the distinction between the virtual world and the brick-and-mortar world has blurred. This convergence has impacted how we choose, decide, and influence. The advent of mobility and social media has significantly changed business and consumer dynamics. This has bred a new species of consumers that seek instant gratification at the time, place, and channel of their choice.
Recent survey shows 78 percent of consumers do extensive online research evaluating each and every aspect of a product before picking up the phone. Phone calls come in at a crucial juncture of the buying cycle, providing a single window of opportunity to businesses to influence consumer decision. A person's experience on the phone is going to dictate your relationship, not just with one customer, but a much larger customer base. With the advent of social media word spreads faster and wider.
Multiple Contact Channels
Smartphones are radically transforming consumer behavior. Due to 24-hour connectivity consumers are embracing newer contact channels such as live chats, virtual agents, and FAQs, besides voice interactions. However this doesn’t mean customers are choosing these new channels instead of voice. Despite technological advancement virtual assistance has several glitches with accuracy in interactive voice response; Siri being a case in point ("Did you say Renton?" "No! I said Redmond.").
Click-to-Call Promotes Live Interaction
Far from killing call centers, technological advancement promotes live interactions. With the advent of smartphones, click-to-call has become more accessible, directly connecting the customer to the business. Why visit multiple website pages to see how late the store is open or when the sale is ending? It’s easier to simply click the hyperlink to call the business and get your questions answered.
You can also track what a customer was looking at in your FAQs before they called your 1-800 numbers. A unique click-call-number after each FAQ can directly connect the customer to the right people in the right department. This can save consumers lengthy hold time, voicemail, and multiple transfers, offering great customer experience.
How Organizations Respond?
Technological innovations are not only empowering customers, but businesses too. Customers expect consistent experience across all channels and organizations that can deliver across these multiple platforms will succeed. Online communication is impersonal but a phone conversation gives you a better chance of closing. Technological advancement will help innovate but never eliminate the need for skilled agents. Technology will in fact enable customer service to be better, faster, and more efficient.