How Digital Customer Care Is Key To Making Call Centers More Human

Here’s a philisophical question: do better call centers make digital customer care more complete, or does digital customer care make call centers better and more human?  It’s one first posed by Aeschylus in an early draft of Agamemnon (note: you may want to double-check this), but I think we have an answer: it’s neither. Or, more accurately, both.

Digital customer care is all about making sure that the consumer is at the front and center of everything you do, that their needs and anticipated and catered to, and that every channel they use to contact your company has a consistent message and narrative flow. All this comes to fruition in your call center, whether that is focused on customer service or sales and marketing. So the call center is the heart of digital customer care, digital customer care works toward making the call center faster, more efficient, and personal.

That’s the key: for too long, CSRs have worried about sounding too robotic, too programmed, and too scripted. Because there were so many avenues for customers to reach the company, and so many places to get information, CSRs could easily be thrown off-guard by inconsistencies and unexpected questions. When that happened, the script was the safe place.

Comprehensive digital customer care can change that. It uses a flow of information to make sure that CSRs have all the data and background they need to provide the right information and the right answers to your customers. In the end, I suppose, Aeschylus wouldn’t have written about digital customer care and call centers: not just because he was a little before it’s time, but because it isn’t a tragedy. It’s a triumph of customer service.

Say Farewell to “Hold On”

Let’s look at a couple of pain points for customers when talking to a call center.

  • Being left on hold. No one likes to be on hold, and 40% of customers say that’s what irritates them the most. Some of being on hold is supply/demand, of course: how many people your center has vs. how many people are calling. But the worst part for a customer is when they are put on hold after they’ve started talking to a person, and explained their issue. A long wait here is maddening; they just waited after all. It’s like sitting in an examining room for a half-hour and then the doctor peeking her head in just to say “Thanks for waiting. Now tell me what’s wrong and I’ll disappear again.” It’s estimated that hang-up from frustrated customers cost businesses $130 billion annually.
  • No quick answer. Customers don’t call a center to have a long discourse on the problem and all its manifestations. They want a quick answer without having to repeat themselves. They want to be directed to the right information. A lot of time, this can be handled through the website. But if it gets to the point where a call is needed, then they’ve already spent a lot of time trying to solve it. They want you to solve it quickly. 55% of adult consumers will just give up on a purchase if they can’t get a quick answer to their questions.
  • No answer at all. 50%. That’s the percentage of times CSRs haven’t provided an answer, as reported by consumers. Optimistically, you could say that means questions ARE answered 50% of the time, but that’s not even close to good enough. Part of the problem could be that you perceive you are answering the question, but your customer doesn’t think so. They may not be articulating what they need, and there might be a huge disconnect between the question and the answer.

That comes from information. When CSRs don’t have all the information on the customer they need to solve a problem, they won’t be able to answer a question satisfactorily. That means every aspect of your digital customer care has to flow to the CSR.

How Data Becomes Human

When a computer starts to learn, we call it “Artificial Intelligence”, which is actually fancy way of saying “mimicry”.  AI mimics the way that humans learn: interpreting information based on what has come before. We upload data to computers to make them smarter, but forget that our people will benefit even more. There’s no computer as fast or as complex as the human brain, so isn’t it time to send all the data collected on consumers to your people?

The data you have on your customers comes from every avenue of your omni-channel approach to customer care. You will be gathering information from social media accounts, from time spent on your website, time spent chatting with bots, requesting white papers, and emailing questions. You’ll know if customers are asking questions on Twitter, going to forums about your product and service, and any concerns they may raise.

You’ll certainly do enormous amounts of data analysis on all of this to build models of what customers are looking for, and tailor your sales and marketing to that. Salespeople will use the information, both for individuals and in the aggregate, to create a personalized approach. But that information also has to go to your CSRs.

That’s how data becomes human. We take information from customers and it turns into data, through the magic of algorithms, but then it has to turn back. It has to go from carriage to pumpkin and back to pumpkin.

When your CSRs are able to quickly access all the information that was collected from digital customer care, and apply that you the issue, they’ll be able to answer questions quicker, and with a more personal approach.  Let’s take a look at how a good and bad call can go by using, or not using, the collected information.

Good Call, Bad Call

Bad: Hi, thank you for calling Amalgamated Tractor, how can I help you?

Good: Hi Michael, thanks for calling Amalgamated Tractor today. I see that you’ve been having changing the blades on the tractor you bought last year. Is this still a concern for you?


 

Bad: Tractor blades, eh? Well, what model do you have? When did you buy it? What exactly is the issue?

Good: Well, I see that when you were chatting with another representative you mentioned that the bolts wouldn’t thread back on correctly. They sent you a white paper about replacement. Did that not do the trick?


Bad: OK, let me put you on hold.

Good: OK, we’ve had some customers who have the same model as you who have had problems. So I’ve had engineering work up a schematic for your specific model that I can send over to you. Here’s what it says. (Explains how to fix). If you’d like, we can set up a video conference with one of our experts to walk you through it.


Bad: (Hold music continues. It’s tinny, and the tune is one that can almost be made out, but not quite. It’s too vague. Beethoven? Menudo? It’s on the tip of my brain…)

Good: Now, one interesting thing about that model is that there are actually ways to conserve gas while still using almost all your power. We actually just wrote a paper on that. Would you like me to send it to you? You’ve told our salesperson how you thought you’d probably get roped into mowing the neighbor’s property. No good deed goes unpunished, right? If that turned out to be the case, I think this could be really helpful.  


Bad: (Music continues. What is it? It sounds like the soundscape of a restless dream)

Good: Great- thank you Michael. You have a great day.


Bad: (customer hangs up)

As you can see, one is more human. It’s more personal. It uses all the information that has been gathered during the customer’s journey and employed it to solve their problem quickly and easily. It shows the incredible importance of product knowledge. It could even be done proactively, as we discussed in our last article. Calling a customer and saying “Hey, Michael, a few customers are having trouble with the threading on bolts: would you like a trouble-shooting guide?”

In one, the person is a transaction. In the other, the customer is a person.

A Better Customer Experience Platform

Your call centers, and indeed all of your digital customer care, should be built around a User-Centered Design Process. Everything should be geared around making the best possible experience, and that means flowing information toward the call center. It gives them the power to be truly helpful by anticipating needs, understanding concerns, and lowering potential frustrations.

No one calls for help when they are happy. Waiting and being transferred around makes people less happy. Having an experience with someone who actually treats them like a person, and with whom they can develop a connection, is almost as important as having the problem solved. And being able to solve the problem builds true loyalty.

There’s one thing Aeschylus would understand about customer service: humbly taking care of someone, and treating them like a person, rather than a problem to be solved, is the best way to avoid tragedy. Let digital customer care bring your call center back into the human age.

 

At RDI-Connect, we use the full buyer’s journey to make sure every prospect and customer is treated to the most meaningful experience across all channels, so that your business attracts sales and creates satisfied customers. For more information, please download our white paper Digital Customer Care in 2017: Many Channels, One Focus. Connect with us today to learn more about the services we can provide your business.

 

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Better Together: How to Align Sales and Service With the Customer Experience

ABOUT RDI

RDI Corporation was founded in 1978 and is headquartered in Blue Ash, Ohio. We provide precise business solutions through a fully integrated outsourcing model and our clients ranged from mid-sized corporations to distinguished Fortune 500 companies.