While the number of digital media channels continue to proliferate in customer support scenarios, it’s conventional wisdom that customers still prefer the telephone, at least for now. This, however, shouldn’t be an excuse for companies to skip effective integration of their offline and online (and mobile) channels.
According to a new study by customer experience services provider CX Act Inc., customer support via telephone phone is still considered the most effective channel for resolving issues, with little difference by industry: 52 percent of respondents said they choose the phone, with 23 percent preferring e-mail, 17 percent via in-person contact, and only one percent via social media or mobile app. The study polled 3,000 respondents to arrive at these conclusions. (A stratification of preferences by customer age, however, might have revealed very different results.)
Customers may not be initiating contact with companies via social media, but they are certainly complaining via social media, which is why contact centers simply can’t afford to skip the monitoring of these channels.
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The study also revealed that customers that reported being satisfied with how their [telephone] contact was handled say they are more likely to remain a customer than those who were dissatisfied with their contact handling, by a ratio of 74 percent to 17 percent. This tells us how important it is to get each and every telephone interaction right, with particular emphasis on the first call. Additionally, the study found a direct link between decreasing customer satisfaction and the number of contacts required to solve a problem: customer satisfaction scores drop by over 50 percentage points among customers that have to make contact multiple times to resolve the same issue.
None of these facts are ground-shaking; conventional wisdom has been telling us all these things for a long time. They do emphasize how important it is to have a robust multichannel contact center in place (with social media monitoring firmly in place) and to chase first-call resolution as the most critical metric rather than metrics of convenience such as average handle time. For companies using the services of contact center outsourcing partner, the stakes are very high when it comes to choosing a service. Remember that a BPO company exists to make money, and not all of them will put the quality of service for your customers at the top of their list.
"Despite the rise of customer contact channels, including Web and digital touchpoints, customers still prefer personal, offline interactions," said Rick Johnson, acting president of BPO company 3C Contact Services while weighing in on the results of the study. "Brands that fail to provide an effective and efficient customer service experience risk losing clients and damaging their reputation."
According to Johnson, companies should take extra care when choosing a contact center services partner, ensuring that their goals are aligned with those of their BPO partner.
Edited by Alisen Downey