“Have you called the cell phone company yet?” asks my husband for the 50th time in the past two days. I pretend that I can’t hear him from upstairs and ignore what will be inevitable. The dreaded customer service call. I try to hide, but eventually know I will have to do it.
I am not alone in that sentiment. According to our recent survey, only 7% of people say they actually enjoy contacting customer service (and by the way, who are these people?). Others simply view it as a task that needs to get done (42%).
I fall into a different category– the 52% who say that they either “dread it and put it off until I have to deal with it” or “If I never had to do it again, it would be too soon” (34% and 18% respectively).
So, why has “dread” become synonymous with “customer service”?
Our survey uncovered the usual culprits: long wait times, the need to repeat information, unknowledgeable or rude agents, and multiple transfers.
However, to take a deeper dive, respondents were also asked in an open-ended question to tell us anything they wanted to about customer service today. Here’s what some had to say.
“It’s a gamble to get good results.”
Contacting customer service is risky. Will you get good service? Bad service? Spend an hour on hold or complete the task in three minutes? Who knows!
The reason is that there are so many pieces in the customer service equation, such as technology, live agents, and back-end systems. The odds that together they can orchestrate a flawless customer experience is pretty low.
For example, the technology could be outdated, agents have bad days, and there could be integration issues. Just one piece of the equation can throw the entire experience off and take it from terrific to terrible.
Tip: Many brands are turning to new technologies like Conversational AI to improve their customer experience. These applications not only offer the most advanced technology available today, but they can also support both customers and agents, easily be integrated into back-end systems, and scale across channels to deliver a consistent experience every time.
“My experiences have been many and just as varied, ranging from pleasant and productive to toothache painful. I would like consistency in the way questions and concerns are handled.”
Many of us can probably relate to this statement. We have all called a company and had our issues resolved quickly and with the outcome we expected (and sometimes even more).
But, other times when we have contacted the same company, we’ve had a completely different experience.
Customers want to know what to expect and how they will be treated when they contact a brand–and they don’t want (bad) surprises. Therefore, ensuring consistency across all your communications with customers is key to keeping them loyal and coming back.
Tip: Conversational AI applications like virtual assistants follow business rules so there’s always consistency around how issues or questions are handled. Virtual assistants never have a bad day because they got a flat tire or because their neighbor was playing the tuba into the wee hours of night. Therefore you can always count on them to be pleasant and consistent when it comes to representing your brand.
“I find it to be an inefficient process.”
There can be many factors that can contribute to an inefficient customer service interaction. These can include agents having difficulty accessing information, contact centers being short staffed during high volume times, and the need to transfer customers to different departments, sometimes multiple times.
Tip: Automating common transactions with a Conversational AI solution can help streamline processes and provide a more efficient interaction for customers.
“It’s always a long phone call so I always put it off.”
Time is a rare commodity. People are busy and don’t want to waste time doing something they do not enjoy. And for many, the only time to get things done is after business hours.
Tip: Conversational AI solutions enable customers to self-service whenever and however they want. This increases a brand’s availability to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year–without worrying about costs associated with staffing.
“The best customer service interactions are with those that are empathetic and knowledgeable”
People want to be treated with respect. It’s no different when they contact customer service.
Oftentimes people are contacting a business to resolve issues that are due to stressful situations or unfortunate circumstances (think insurance, finances, and healthcare). The ability to show empathy throughout the entire customer journey can go a long way.
However, empathy in customer service is not only about being kind, but also being respectful about people’s time and how they prefer to communicate.
Tip: Empathy is the new kid on the block at the contact center. Automating tasks using Conversational AI and enabling people to self-service can help remove long wait times. Conversational AI solutions like virtual assistants can also scale easily to other channels so brands can meet their customers where they are while delivering a consistent experience. And, finally with Conversational AI solutions, people can talk or type in their own words and be understood–no more asking customers to conform to technology that is robotic and unnatural.
Want to learn more about consumer preferences? Check out our eBook here.