Conversation Matters: CC Demo 2013 Buzz

Great conversations at CC Demo 2013 were kicked off by keynote speaker, Lisa Ford. She underscored our reality: Customers who contact us today via phones are already escalated calls. In follow-up discussions with contact center attendees there was strong agreement and a little frustration with this reality.

Lisa Ford is astutely correct. If the web page, mobile app, google or other self-help feature did not provide the answer, the caller has identified that the issue requires expertise in resolving. Callers who have already tried to remedy the issue do not want an endless barrage of “please go to our webpage” announcements.

Additionally, we have a group of customers who will always prefer to call. IVRs annoy them, websites are a backup plan when a live person cannot be found. Companies will do little to influence their preference to talk. And companies which try too hard to point these customers

My opinion? No! Over the past 2 years, I have asked every group of attendees at functions where I’ve presented (by my estimate this is easily over 500 contact center professionals), “Is anyone receiving fewer calls than they were?” A large majority admit that they are not. A small group respond with, “Well, we are getting a lower volume but the calls we do receive are longer so our workload is about the same”. Exactly two have agreed that workload is down after intensive self-help implementation efforts. This is a direct contradiction to what pundits were predicting 15 years ago when they were proclaiming the demise of customer service centers in the next 10 years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the number of employees working in contact centers has increased over the last 10 years in the United States in spite of the number of jobs that have moved off shore.

My advice? Keep offering self-help, continue building mobile apps and be diligent about what drives a customer to want to talk to the organization. Recognize that many of those conversations support long-term relationships with customers and generate positive word-of-mouth for new customers. Learn from the conversations and determine what the next generation of automation should be for customers. And NEVER let senior management believe that conversations with customers should ever cease and if you cannot convince your senior managers  of the importance of a conversation with a client, find a company that understands this.

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