Asynchronous communication has changed how we communicate in fundamental ways, but our call centers have not caught up in many cases.
With there being about six million cell phone subscribers around the world according to a U.N. Telecom Agency report last October, it seems safe to say that we will always have an option to leave a voicemail on a friend or family member’s phone if they don’t pick up. We are long accustomed to no longer having to expect a hit-or-miss calling experience, rather, becoming more than familiar with quick call backs and immediate responses.
This same basic premise operates with our other modes of communication, whether they be SMS, e-mail or chat.
Yet for me (and I’m sure you, too) call center interactions usually don’t work this way. In other words, they still operate on the hit-or-miss principle. Even if I call a business at the right time, I am often subjected to long hold times until an agent is actually able to get on the phone. I don’t know about you, but this customer experience is archaic and out of synch with my lifestyle and most of those around me.
Thankfully, callback services and virtual queuing are changing that with enough promise to rectify this commonly-faced issue once and for all, fixing the disconnect between customer service practices and the practices of actual customers.
“Call-backs are a win-win, benefiting both company and consumer,” noted Adam Goldkamp in a recent article, chief operations officer with GetHuman.com. “From the consumer standpoint, they don't have to waste time waiting on hold as someone will call them when they are ready to speak to them,” he said. “From the company standpoint, we've found that customers that use call backs aren't as angry as those that are subjected to long wait times.”
The business case is stronger than just happy customers; however, there’s also resource savings. “You're not tying up phone lines and infrastructure,” explained Robert Townsend in the same article, senior product manager for virtual contact centers with 8x8.
Further, agents can be more efficient when using callback technology. “You have a much richer understanding of who's trying to reach you and who that customer is, and you've authenticated who they are,” Townsend noted.
Last October, 8x8 (News - Alert) partnered with TMC to hold a webinar titled, “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You: How Web Callback Changes Everything for Inbound Call Centers,” where the company explained how the technology can benefit call centers as well as how it works in more detail. 8x8 has seen such a tremendous growth and desire for this method that it recently introduced Web callback at an affordable, rent-per-month fee basis.
Callbacks can be scheduled through a voice menu, or they can be arranged by virtual queuing through a website or mobile app. This largely eliminates the need for interactive voice response (IVR), a technology used but rarely preferred.
“Once you have a screen and keyboard in front of you, why would you ever want to go through a voice menu?" Townsend suggests. “If you've logged in, you don't even have to put in your phone number again.”
Callbacks and virtual queuing is a win both for the business and its customers. When customers request a callback instead of waiting on hold, call center agents also get the time to prepare for the call in a way they usually wouldn’t when a beep comes through their headset and they’re connected randomly to a caller. Callbacks and virtual queuing give agents the opportunity to come into a call already tipped off on what the customer may need, driving a better, more efficient customer service experience.
It all adds up to a new era for the call center, and one that finally will be in synch with the way customers actually live their lives – finally!