Gone are the days when customers would ring in to a contact center for every query they had. Now the first action a customer often takes is an attempt to ‘self-serve’. The way customers try to track down answers for their queries varies and may depend on where the customer is, what method of communication they have to hand, how much time they have and the urgency of the query.
The vast majority of people now have a smartphone to hand at all times, which serves as their window on the world, so your company’s website is most likely to be the first place they look. Customers expect this to be an easy to use source of information, providing clear answers for frequently asked questions. However, if the answer cannot be found, it should be obvious what the customer’s next action should be to resolve their query; if there are different numbers to call for different types of query then this should be clear along with opening hours. Inviting emails to be sent to specific email addresses can also be helpful but only if you plan to acknowledge the email and follow-up with a timely response.
Some customers might prefer to use chat or SMS whilst multi-tasking with other activities. Virtual agents can be used for such online conversations, providing an effective, cost saving way to quickly handle customer interactions. But, take note, the quality of the automated conversation doesn’t happen by chance; make sure you invest the required time and effort to analyse what the most commonly asked questions are and create suitable answers accordingly.
If the customer’s quest to resolve their query does result in them making an inbound call to the contact center and speaking to a human make sure the agents are ready and able to handle those calls. Having weeded out the high volume of less complicated queries through self-service, the agents must be prepared for more demanding questions and, sometimes potentially, slightly exasperated customers who might feel a sense of annoyance at having failed to resolve the issue themselves. Human agents must therefore up their game in both knowledge and empathy so be sure to give them all the tools that will help them quickly handle customers’ more stretching demands.
So as your customers move to self service, then those contacts that do get through to live agents are going to be more challenging – which is no bad thing!