Digital Channels are Increasing the Demands on Contact Centers
Web self-service is popular today, and for good reason. Customers like finding their own answers, and companies are making it increasingly easy to do so thanks to digital technologies like chatbots and mobile apps. The belief in the contact center industry was that as the popularity of self-service channels rises, the number of customers reaching out to live agents would drop. As it turns out, this is not the case.
In a recent blog post, Nuance’s (News - Alert) Konstantin Khitrik wrote that in a perfect world, emerging digital channels should be deflecting customers away from more expensive, traditional channels like the phone, allowing agents to focus on important customer issues that truly require a human touch.
“Unfortunately, many of the organizations we work with aren’t experiencing a drop in call volume,” he wrote. “Calls are still pouring in, with customers turning to the call center as their primary escalation channel when they aren’t able to solve their problem elsewhere.”
There are many reasons for this phenomenon, including self-service programs that aren’t very effective (or have long response times), and the fact that customers are using multiple channels all for the same transaction. Additionally, customers are retaining live voice as an option for only the most complex transactions, so the contact center has exchanged a thousand easy, rote transactions a day for 100 highly complicated, headache-inducing transactions.
In other words, if you’re hoping digitalization will let you scale back your contact center workforce to a large degree, you’re in for disappointment. Running a tight call center with the help of workforce management solutions is more important than ever, since customers’ calls are becoming more difficult to navigate and customers themselves are becoming more demanding.
“The phone isn’t going anywhere any time soon and can’t be ignored in lieu of any other channels,” wrote Khitrik. “It has to be a central part of the customer care strategy and can’t be overshadowed by the buzz surrounding other channels. Nor can other channels be ignored – website FAQs and difficult to navigate mobile apps must become a thing of the past.”
Digitalization means that calls will still happen, but they will happen in a broader context of other media. This will mandate a significant transformation of how contact centers provide customer service, including operational changes, changes to metrics, and how the customer journey to receive service is handled, according to Nuance’s James Mastan.
“As the number of digital touchpoints increases, the ability of a contact center to effectively address customer interactions will need to be even more closely managed to assure high satisfaction and resolution on whatever channel the customer chooses,” he wrote.
Going forward, contact centers will need to be better staffed and more tightly managed with twenty-first century workforce management processes than ever before.
Edited by Alicia Young