Is Omni-channel Support the way to go?
Customer support has taken many forms throughout the years. Call centres primarily provide call support, but the demand for email and live chat is something that cannot be ignored. Depending on the size and vertical of the company, different types of communication is required.
Some customers prefer phone calls for immediate conversations, while others prefer to send an email and deal with it later. Omni-channel customer support has become more and more common in the call centre world, but is there such thing as opening too many channels? The answer is different for everyone, but there are pros and cons for each channel.
Phones are the backbone of the call centre world and probably still the most popular way to get in touch with companies. They allow for immediate contact and back-and-forth between customers and your support team, solving issues effectively. The downside is that customers can get frustrated when waiting in line for too long, or being put on hold too often. Complex IVRs can also frustrate customers when navigating through a long menu, especially when they’ve called before.
- One of the best benefits of phone calls is its ability to convey emotion and empathy through tone. This is very hard to do in written communication. Hearing the customer’s tone helps the agent adjust their communication style, and allowing the customer to hear the agent’s tone can help with customer satisfaction as well. However, this is a double-edged sword as it can be hard for the agents when the customers are angry, and it’s also harder for agents to hide their own sentiments.
- While agents can handle multiple chat sessions at a time, phone calls can still be faster on a one-to-one basis. The bottom-line is that people speak faster than they can type. With tools like deepPiXEL’s Smart Response, this difference is getting smaller and smaller.
- Phone calls are best for conversations that require thorough discussion and immediate support, such as troubleshooting technical issues. Customers and agents can ask questions and provide/follow step-by-step instructions, and depending on if the issue is resolved, the customer can provide feedback to the agent and receive a different solution. This leads to higher First Contact Resolution.
- Today’s generation prefers messaging over phone calls. This trend is likely to continue and the popularity of phone calls will inevitably drop. Call centres need to future-proof themselves by providing new channels that customers are moving towards.
- There’s no good way to put customers on hold. They become frustrated by the hold music or informational messages that play on repeat as they hold. They can’t turn the volume off because they need to know when the agent is back. On chat, the customer can go do other things while the agent looks up the information.
- Phone calls, especially on mobile devices can be unreliable and sound quality is very important in understanding the other person on the line. External noise is another issue that affects the communication between customer and agent. Also, when customers disconnect, they may have to go through the whole IVR and wait in line to get reconnected to the agent.
Email gives the opportunity for customers to sit down and focus on writing about their issues in their own pace. They can send an email and then do other things while the agent is working on a response, and then the customer can deal with the response at their own leisure. It’s useful for customers who want to address things in their limited free time and then pick it back up when they have time again.
- Neither the customer nor the agent has to respond immediately. It gives them more time to think about what to write or how to address an issue, as long as the agent responds within the SLA.
- Both agent and customer gets a copy of the whole conversation, which can be hard for customers to do on phone. Keeping a copy of the chat transcript requires the customer to remember to do so, but emails are automatically kept as part of the process.
- Emails do not require the call centre to be open or the agent to be there. A customer can send an email at any time and the agent can respond when they get in next. This is especially true when the call centre serves customers in different time zones.
- Emails can come in any time, even when the call centre is closed. This means that emails accumulate over time and slow the agents down. Opening your inbox to find hundreds of emails could be overwhelming for the agents. When customers wait a long time for a reply, they will expect it to be a well-written and concise response that solves their issue.
- Agents cannot immediately ask the customer for more details. If there’s any missing information or need for clarification, this means another email back-and-forth just to clear up something, and that could take days.
- Unlike phones, it is hard for agents and customers to convey emotions over email. Agents may overlook or misinterpret the customer’s frustration. If the agent is not able to read the customer’s emotion, they could accidentally damage the relationship between the customer and the company.
Chat is steadily gaining space in the call centre world. More and more websites are starting to have a live chat window. Messaging is especially popular amongst the younger generation, who seem to prefer texting much more than a traditional voice call. When used effectively, chat can even help boost sales.
- Instant messaging tends to have shorter wait time for customers. This is because while agents can only handle one voice call at a time, the industry average for chats is three at a time.
- Chat allows companies to reach out and engage customers proactively. While calls and emails require the customer to initiate the conversation, chat agents can actively engage customers who are browsing on the company’s website. By assisting with online customers, helping them find what they’re looking for, or providing information such as sales and promotions, chat can be used to boost sales.
- Chat agents can look up information for the customer as they are chatting without having to put the customer on hold. This means no awkward silences or irritating hold music. At the same time, the customer doesn’t need to have the phone up to their ear while they wait.
- Like emails, it is hard to convey or perceive emotions through text. Although there are tools to detect customer sentiment, it is still dangerous to misread a customer’s emotions.
- Typing is still slower than speaking. However, tools like deepPiXEL’s Smart Response cuts agent response times down to seconds by autocompleting phrases for agents. Chat agents can also copy and paste things like serial numbers, confirmation numbers or forms to speed up the process, which cannot be done on calls.
- Chat makes it too easy for agents to copy and paste responses or use message templates. This can cause customers to react badly and feel the responses are too generic. Tools like deepPiXEL’s Smart Response learns directly from the agents, meaning the responses that it suggests to the agents will sound like them.
With all the different types of communication channels, there are many ways to serve your customers. There is no ultimate solution that works for everyone, picking the right channels will take thought and experimentation. Some companies are fine with one or two channels, while others require several. At the end of the day, it is up to you to decide how you want to serve your customers.
Book a demo with us now and see how CARA Smart Response can help you leverage live chat to better serve your customers!