by Gary Audin
I was reading “5 Trends in Customer Experience for 2020” from British Telecom (BT) and discovered some interesting global customer responses published in their Autonomous Customer 2020 Report. This report is based on research of 6,000 online customers across 12 countries looking at how consumers want to contact businesses throughout their customer journey.
Is the Voice Contact Center Dying?
Many pundits have predicted the demise of the voice call with the contact center. I disagree. There are two voices, the customer’s, and the agent’s. I think some the agents will slowly be replaced with voice enabled IVR and voice enabled AI systems.
But not all agents will disappear. We will need well trained agents to handle the high value and complex calls. Some customers cannot or will not work with the self-service website. Only a live agent will suffice. There some customers like senior citizens who like to speak to a person.
The customer voice call will continue to be important. The customer’s voice will be communicating with automated response systems. Therefore the customer voice will continue to be active.
The BT survey reported:
- The number of respondents who called a contact center in 2019 (74%) increased from 64% in 2015.
- Agent knowledge of their website was reported at 53% in 2019, down from 59% in 2017.
- Customers want agents (81%) to perform the more complicated chatbot responses, up from 74% in 2017.
- Customers (80%) expect organizations to employ AI and automated voice services, up from 67% in 2017.
How Does Messaging Fit in the Contact Center?
I have used webchat. It has not always been successful. One time I was forgotten and waited 10 minutes and finely gave up. So I am cautious of the use of webchat because of some frustrating experiences. The BT survey looked into messaging and how well it is applied by customers.
Two of my preferences for webchats are that I can see the conversations on my screen and have a written record of the webchat. The BT survey reported that 55% of the respondents liked this capability in 2019. This is an increase from 49% in 2015.
The younger the customer (16 to 43 years old), the more likely they prefer webchat. This includes making secure payments over webchat or messaging. Forty seven percent of this age group were positive about making these payments.
The BT survey also reported that 48% of the respondents would rather use webchat than a voice call when they are on the website. This means that 52% still prefer the voice call to an agent.
Does the Customer Believe in the Technology?
I have worked with computers and networks a long time. So when I see the positive marketing hype on TV, I am skeptical. I wonder what the marketing message is leaving out. This skepticism can reduce the customer use of technological advances. Technology can improve the contact center interaction but not everyone has a positive experience. A very frustrating experience is restating the customer account details as they pass though the contact center interaction, a problem reported by 67% of the BT respondents.
A positive reason why voice is going to continue is use is the possibility of increasing the sale of the product or service. If the payment was secure, then 50% of the customers would have purchased more as reported by the BT survey.
When asked about the customer experience with technology, the BT survey reported that:
- Customers do not like the long waits for their verification when they call into the contact center (60%).
- To reduce the wait time, customers would like accurate voice biometrics to be employed (81%).
Do Outbound Calls Work?
The huge number of robocalls has created a situation where most people do not answer calls from phone numbers they do not know. My robocall solution in my home phone allows me to block these calls after the first ring. Yet I still get calls as the robocallers change their phone number identification. Legitimate outbound calls are frequently ignored. Some surveys have reported 20 to 44% of outbound calls are unsuccessful.
Outbound are still valuable. The BT survey learned that 87% of the respondents want to be notified if there is problem with the product or service they are using.
Although the customer behaviors are changing, technology solutions can only go so far. There will still be a need for voice communications. It will be a while, probably a year or more for the carrier solutions to robocalls to be trusted and therefore the outbound calls will still have delivery issues.
A variation of this blog was posted at www.nojitter.com.