Contact Centres in the Age of the Internet

Contact centres technology

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 The influential American philosopher Elbert Hubbert once asserted, “one machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.”

In an age of virtual assistants and automated medical advice lines. this is a philosophy us humans should perhaps cherish.

Customer feedback solutions specialists, ServiceTick, concur with Hubbert. A survey conducted by the company pits contact centres against web-based customer management and finds the latter is still lacking. Their 150,000-strong survey discovered that customer satisfaction scores and NPS (Net Promoter Score) were consistently higher at the end of a personal conversation with an agent than with web-based scores. The difference was clear – customer satisfaction scores were 22 points higher and NPS 69% higher.

Thinking laterally, this is hardly surprising. After all, having someone listen to your query or problem and actively strive for a solution or enhance your experience with their product or service, is most consumers idea of excellent customer service.

Choice, convenience, service standards and provision must be key when deciding on the communication channels your company offers. The customer service strategy you employ is dependent on the type of campaign you are running.

Simple services with little need for interaction or risk of procedural error could be suited to web-based applications, but if the campaign is more information-driven or if there is more risk for the customer to become confused by a difficult process or service, a contact centre environment might be more appropriate.

Expertly managed online systems are well demonstrated by Facebook and Google who, when not fighting over world domination, have constructed comprehensive troubleshooting systems that negate, though not replace, the need for “contact” customer service. Their businesses are such that the majority of the problems their users encounter can be solved through the kind of procedural IT troubleshooting that many of us are familiar with from work. We can see that in some contexts this approach is well suited, but if you are hoping to reap the rewards of upselling, cross-selling or simply injecting your brand with a bit of personality, contact centre services can’t be beaten.

Modern consumers create complex personas through their product choices and the way they select, negotiate, manage and communicate these choices.

We allow ourselves to be constantly contactable, both by our peers and marketers alike, and expect the same availability from our service providers. Smart businesses understand that, in order to promote customer acquisition and retention, a more holistic approach to customer service is needed.

While web-based processes are sometimes quicker or more convenient to access, the frustration that can develop from not being able to locate your answer within a FAQ matrix can be a far less preferable process to speaking to a responsive and laterally-minded person, interested in retaining your custom.

Should a customer be thinking of shopping around for a different supplier, a chat with an advisor gives the opportunity to win the customer back over. Social media and forums mean that people are going to be talking about your products and services; good and bad. Both the bane and beauty of social media is that it is so hard to control and moderate, in fact nigh on impossible.

By ensuring the quality standards of your service or product at source, you can be assured that you are doing all you can to prevent negative publicity as well as ensuring that you have a strategy in place if online chat turns negative.

Being able to fully integrate your contact centre and online systems should be the ultimate aim when optimising your customer service provision. It is not a contest between one or the other and, as with many of the facets of business, as long as you are considering the needs of your customer, every step of the way, you can’t go far wrong.

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