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Good customer service is rewarded, but not as much as poor customer service hurts.

Edward Gately

August 3, 2021

3 Min Read
Call Center
Customers today expect to be able to contact a company according to their own preferences. Organizations that don’t offer an omnichannel customer support strategy are behind the curve. They have to be prepared to service customers via phone, email or live chat. They must be available at any time of day and have the answers to any customer question or complaint at their fingertips. This kind of pressure can lead to large, sprawling customer service pools, and if a business doesn’t have the right tools in place to automate the process and make it more efficient, the help desk can become a major source of wasted revenue. SWC Technology’s Cummings says it’s leading to more and more customers turning to MSPs to handle their helpdesk operations. “We’ve seen an increased demand for outsourced service desk and expect that to continue in 2019,” she says. “It’s challenging for an internal team to support users as they navigate the change — on a 24/7/365 basis, from anywhere, on any device. Additionally, this distraction takes internal resources away from identifying and implementing higher-priority projects that drives greater value to the business.”Shutterstock

A new consumer survey shows human interaction is more important than ever in customer service despite the influx of new communication channels in contact centers.

That’s according to a national survey by TCN, the global provider of a cloud-based call center platform for enterprises, contact centers, BPOs and collection agencies. OnePoll conducted the consumer survey and TCN commissioned it. OnePoll surveyed 1,000 adults about preferences and expectations when interacting with contact centers, call centers and customer service.

Consumer Insights

Key findings from the consumer survey include:

  • Human interaction in customer service is more important than ever.

  • Americans are patient, but are still waiting too long on hold — about three times as long as they are typically willing to wait. They are willing to wait, on average, six minutes, but the actual wait time is almost 17-and-a-half minutes.

  • Good customer service is rewarded, but not as much as poor customer service hurts. One in three (33%) respondents said they post an online review after a positive experience, but 42% said they post a review after a poor experience.

  • Accessibility is key. When asked the most important features when contacting a customer service team, 55% chose “easy to get through to a live agent.” and 52% said “available 24 hours a day.”

  • If there is a long wait time when calling, callers preferred callbacks from a queue. More than one-third (37%) said they would prefer to be in a queue and get a call back when an agent is available. One in four (24%) would continue to wait on hold, and one in five (20%) would hang up and try another time.

  • Health care and finance win the day. More than 64% said they were extremely or somewhat satisfied when contacting health care organizations, and nearly 68% responded the same for financial institutions.

  • When asked which company is the worst to get a hold of for customer service, 43% named cable and wireless companies or organizations.

No Substitute for Human Interaction

McKay Bird is TCN‘s chief marketing officer.

Bird-McKay_TCN.jpg

TCN’s McKay Bird

“We learned there is no substitute for human interaction,” he said. “We also saw that automation for customer support is being used to alleviate costs. However, it has a direct correlation to the quality of customer service.”

The survey showed an increase in hold times and consumers moving to communication channels (email, SMS, chat, social) they previously had not used before, McKay said.

“Some businesses were quick to adopt a work-from-home (WFH) agent workforce with video chat capabilities (think telehealth),” he said. “We also saw an increase in empathy toward consumers and agents alike, knowing that we are all in the same boat.”

Call centers and businesses should find a balance between automation and human interaction, McKay said.

“Know who your customer is and recognize that demographic preferences can change based on your audience,” he said.

Technology can make the agent experience easier, including screen pops (CRM integrations) for caller context, account information and history, Bird said.

“It can even shorten the agent’s time spent doing post-call work, connecting agents to live calls sooner,” he said. “On the customer experience side, simple automation like account balance lookup, payments and scheduled appointments can all happen in real time via interactive voice response (IVR).”

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Edward Gately or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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