Surprise! Customers Still Call

Hollis Chin | February 06, 2014

It’s 2014 and the phones are still ringing in contact centers worldwide. For the last 10 years, there has been a significant effort by companies to move customers to self-serve on the web. While many consumers go to company websites, the numbers still show that consumers like to call companies on the phone.

[24] recently sponsored a customer service survey, asking credit card users how they interact with their credit card providers. Surprise! Despite businesses’ best efforts, 50% of customers still start their journey with a phone call on a smartphone or landline. And, while 41% of credit card users now start their journey on the web, 60% of them go to the phone (smartphone or landline) next. In a world where consumers “talk less and text more,” these are interesting findings.

Forrester Research is seeing similar results. The firm conducted a study and compared communication channels in 2009 and 2012. The channel with the highest percentage of usage in both years, 73%, was “telephone calls to a company.”

While enterprise call volume has remained the same, the consumer’s world has dramatically changed. Connected consumers frequently start tasks in one channel and device and finish them in another. When they interact on the phone and then go to the web, they expect companies to know their history regardless of channel. And regardless of channel, they expect an intelligent and personalized experience.

Companies need to take a closer look at their customer’s phone experience. The first touchpoint is most likely an Interactive Voice Response (IVR). Is the IVR intelligent enough to know what the customer wants? Does the IVR understand what the customer did in previous interactions in other channels? If the customer is passed to a live agent, does the agent have access to the same history and analytics to complete the customer’s task?

When it comes to customer experience, companies have many complex issues to address so knowing where to start is critical because channels need to be integrated, customer data has to be analyzed, and a bevy of devices need to be supported. The survey data indicates that the first step must be mastering and managing the phone experience because customers continue to call.

The survey data provides some interesting perspectives. You can find more details on the survey here.