What’s up with call centers?
With so many retailers needing call centers for customer service issues, the technology should at this point be easy for consumers to deal with. Yet, I often find call center interactions are like walking through one of those cornfield mazes in Iowa — no easy way out and no easy way to get help.
Part of the problem, according to Advertising Age, is that interactive voice response systems (IVR’s) were designed to be functional to help the business, and not necessarily to help the consumer. Consumer frustrations have increased as call center menus evolved over time to ask for more and more information via more and more prompts.
IVR’s have also been set up to fill dead air with the sound of typing, or something similar, which supposedly makes the wait time go by faster for the customer. The president of On Hold Marketing & Communications says that people get impatient after 30 seconds of hold silence, vs. 45 seconds for music, and 80 seconds with music and a decent hold message.
To offer alternatives, companies like Aspect are provide call center systems that can also handle texts, as well as Facebook and Twitter messages, which theoretically will make things better.
Another option is scheduling a callback for a time when the company is ready to talk and when it is convenient for the customer.
Source: Nexogy – Cloud-based call center
Praful Shah, SVP of RingCentral, told AdAge that consumers now want to be able to go to the internet and get things done quickly. That, theoretically, matches what companies want because they are looking to control cost by reducing human capital and live operators. But my experience with web chat says that the chat employees often don’t have access to the information they need and are juggling multiple chats at one time, causing delays. Often, one uses web chat and ultimately has to call the contact center anyway.
This week, ShorTel announced a new contact center solution that enables up to 1,000 contact center agents to engage with customers through a variety of channels, and provides them with a lot of information via a single screen. However, haven’t we all had experiences in which information is lost just in transferring from one operator to another? It’s hard to imagine a call center being able to connect the dots between phone calls, text and social media.
Nexogy says the top four customer complaints about call centers are:
- Being stuck on hold — because the wait time is open-ended;
- Boring hold music or announcements — both of which can be customized;
- Being transferred multiple times — due to poor routing operations;
- Having to repeat information when transferred — better automation can help.
- Please continue to hold and hold……. – Advertising Age
- Shortel launches new contact center solution – ShoreTel
- Top 4 customer complaints about call centers – Nexogy
What suggestions do you have for making call centers as customer-friendly and efficient as possible? Which technology options (texts, scheduled callbacks, web chat, e-mail, etc.) offer the most promise to improve the call center experience for consumers?