Efficient contact centers can have a significant impact on brand NPS. Read on to know how it can stay relevant in the digital era.
The telecom industry is abuzz with discussions about the end of the contact center. Giffgaff, a British mobile virtual network operator, that runs without one of these centers is often quoted as a model example. Instead of voice, Giffgaff routes its customers to digital channels or community forums to resolve issues. The hype seems justified – digital is cheaper and preferred to voice, yielding a higher Net Promoter Score (NPS).
While this approach works for Giffgaff’s digital-native target and its simple proposition, it is a different story for brands with complex services and a larger demographic. Retrofitting digital tools onto established operations is challenging and often counterproductive.The digital journeys so mapped out for the customers, are often disappointing since their first instinct is to pick up the phone.
THE PROBLEM WITH DIGITAL
While the adoption of digital has long been on the rise, research shows that voice is still the most popular type of customer service. Despite massive investment in digital, many communications service providers (CSPs) have witnessed a stable frequency of calls vis-à-vis the pre-digital age.
It is important to deploy correct channels depending upon the complexity of the issue. Consumers prefer digital touch-points for simple requests, such as asking for more information. But for complex problems like troubleshooting or requesting a rebate, a phone call is the clear winner.
While serving customers, time is of the essence. Slow responses provoke 85% of customers to jump from one channel to another, while over 50% will switch within an hour and 10% will wait for less than five minutes.
Poorly executed digital channels increase a customer’s frustration and cause duplication of work with the same inquiry coming in on multiple channels. Operators must be wary of the impact of poor service on customer retention, with 97% say they would consider a change in the operator if they do not receive a response in time. A Harvard Business Review research confirms that overall levels of satisfaction are reduced without personal service.
A well-trained and motivated contact center agent can influence purchase decisions and can pay dividends by resolving complex issues in time.
MITIGATING THE IRRITANTS, MAXIMIZING VALUE
Customers wish to get in touch with their CSPs for many reasons. It is important that their journeys are designed with their intent in mind. A way of doing this is to segment the customer intent using tools like the ‘Value/Irritant matrix’.
Analysis of the inbound contacts made with the CSPs shows that the majority of the contacts, and therefore the costs incurred are irritating to one, or both the parties. Systematically identifying and eliminating these ‘irritants’ has a significant impact on ROI and NPS.
THE RENAISSANCE OF THE CONTACT CENTER
The contact center adds tangible value to the overall customer experience by increasing loyalty and therefore the NPS. It also provides opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling, gathering meaningful customer feedback and insights that new digital channels may not.
It is certain that the future belongs to a digital center operating with technologies like automation and bots, but humans need to be at the heart of these innovations. The role of the contact center agent will evolve to a highly sought-after, tech-savvy, motivated brand ambassador of the CSP.
The increased cost of a fully-integrated omni-channel sales and service is justified by the one-on-one interaction with the customer and the differentiation and higher profit margins it can achieve. It is time that the industry starts warming up to the idea of reinventing the contact center, instead of doing away with it.
Partner, Infosys Consulting
Ian is a strategy and transformation professional with 25 years of experience in the utilities and telecom sectors. He is an expert in defining and delivering technology-led transformation programs in complex, multi-vendor environments. Ian joined Infosys Consulting as a partner last year and manages some of our key accounts in the region.