Why people avoid the contact center
If you’re like me, you probably hate calling contact centers. You know those times where you’ve been on hold for what seems like forever, only to get disconnected with the agent or be told that the problem you’re trying to solve can’t be resolved over the phone.
But, even in today’s digital age where customers expect personalized, on-demand interactions, contact centers are still a default customer service channel. And while many organizations have adopted tools like chatbots to help with customer issues, customers almost always end up back in the contact center queue.
Let’s dive into why customers avoid calling contact centers and why organizations who provide seamless digital self-service experiences can improve the customer experience and the employee experience, too.
What’s the issue?
Since COVID-19, contact centers have been overwhelmed. The pandemic made people more reliant on them due to the unexpected need for self-service, which increased call volumes when organizations weren’t prepared.
And while it’s usually more efficient and desired to speak with a real person (88% of people prefer speaking to human customer service agents more than a phone menu1) contact centers still struggle to provide efficient customer service.
Here’s why customers avoid calling contact centers:
- The dreaded phone menu – This is one of the first problems customers face when they call the contact center. Instead of speaking to a real person, they’re often introduced to a long and confusing IVR system. After listening to the hold music for minutes on end, they end up realizing they’ve chosen the wrong department to speak with and they’re back to square one.
- Repeating information – Often customers have to move from agent to agent and their data and information doesn’t seem to move with them. They have to repeat/reshare their issue again, leading to longer call times and frustrated customers.
- Skilled-based routing is missing – A customer who has called in many times and has experienced previous issues is connected to a less experienced agent who doesn’t know anything about their situation. With skill-based routing, an agent trained in credit card-related inquiries will always be given calls where customers have questions about a credit card.
What’s the answer?
While many challenges exist regarding contact centers, contact centers themselves aren’t the problem. And, it’s not only customers who are affected by the issues they cause. Due to the outdated systems and processes in contact centers, agents are left to do the heavy lifting–they often have to juggle several applications to take customer calls, and because of that, they can come across as inefficient or incapable.
If organizations focused on offering self-service solutions for complex, rules-based processes, many calls could be deflected from the contact center, data could be captured correctly, and it could be sent automatically to other core systems within the organization.
For example, a large bank had no online offering for its small business credit card. When a small business customer called the contact center, they were directed to go to their closest branch and meet with an advisor to fill out paper forms. The process would sometimes take more than a week to complete, was disappointing for customers, and wasted time for contact center agents.
With the proper digital solution, the process now looks like this:
While delivering a perfect customer experience may not be possible every time, allowing the customer to self-serve through a channel like this allows the contact center agent to provide customers with a resolution right away and spend more time on high-priority calls, like saving/upselling a sale or managing unhappy customers.
Involve agents in the process
It sounds like a no-brainer, but when it comes to updating technology and solutions, organizations often forget to involve those who use it on a daily basis.
By involving agents in the process of improving the contact center experience, they can provide feedback and insights through:
- Continuous feedback loops with leadership about which processes are the most difficult to navigate.
- Taking part in user testing of new solutions.
- Brainstorming new solutions for problems like long average queue time, high call abandonment rates, and high handle times.
And, with the right solution, they can build new processes themselves that will guide them step-by step, resolve calls more efficiently, and improve CSAT scores.
3 ways to make the contact center more appealing
One of the main issues facing the contact center is that agents are dealing with multiple applications and customer data is scattered throughout systems that aren’t easy to access.
And while nobody wants to mess with legacy systems or data, these three steps can help make the contact center experience better for everyone.
1. Map the customer journey based on common inquiries/issues
Whether customers are calling to purchase a product or resolve a billing issue, it’s important to identify the most common inquiries the contact center is getting so that they can be addressed first. For example, are customers coming from a chatbot that ultimately couldn’t help them, and getting to the contact center only to repeat the same information they’ve already provided?
2. Focus on accurate data collection
Identify which processes are still requiring manual input or which systems aren’t speaking to one another and use a digital solution that can take each step of the rules-based process, map a decision tree and only present relevant questions to customers.
3. Digitize and automate processes
After accurate data collection is accomplished, organizations can focus on digitizing and automating processes that are manual or require human intervention. Now that the data is flowing across different systems, the information that was submitted through the chatbot is now displayed at the contact agent’s fingertips.
With these changes, contact centers will see faster call times and more accurate results, improved productivity, and confident, well-trained agents who can quickly access the information they’re looking for. And, best of all, organizations will have a channel that customers no longer dread using.
Sources and credits
1How Businesses Should Set up Their IVR Menu | Clutch.co., April 2019
26 Undeniable Reasons People Hate Calling Your Contact Center, Fonolo, November 2020
3How to Run a Call Center in 2022, HubSpot Blog. HubSpot, July 2022