Technology has done so much to make the customer service industry better, but it has still not made it perfect. With better websites, better social network connections and all of the other things that come along with our newer technology, this service industry now has so many new ways to better assist customers. However, while these new ways are great, helpful and usually more cost effective, companies have to be careful not to close the door on the real conversation of service by discontinuing the telephone option.
Having the option to still call a company if a need arises is an option that must not be phased out or made much more difficult in an effort to push people to interact solely online. Just because someone may be shopping online, it does not mean that they want to do all interactions online. More and more stories are told every day of the service interaction on places like Twitter and Facebook, yet it is still a small percentage of the people when considering the whole scheme of things. Some people may be just fine shopping online and have no desire to reach out and contact a company via email, Twitter, chat, etc. It comes down to taking into account the customer’s comfort zone. Technology is great, but it is a long way from replacing human interaction.
According to Flavio Martins’ article as Business 2 Community, “A recent survey by IMShopping has shown just that. 77% of online shoppers said that they want to talk to a ‘real’ person before buying. The research also shows that 43% of all ecommerce transactions begin with the customer searching the web, and yet end with them picking up the phone.” In the recent past, studies have been done on the topic and show that 69% of customers are more satisfied by using telephone service options over that of email or web FAQ sections.
Companies that are pushing customers more to the web based option are limiting the contact ability in an effort to save additional money, which is understandable from their viewpoint. However, if a customer goes to a site to order, but then has a question before placing the order, there needs to be a quick way to reach someone or the order and customer will go away. Having a “Contact Us” form that simply allows the customer to email is often not enough. This is only a viable option if on the other end there is a group standing ready to respond to these emails in a lightning fast turn-around time. Instead, the IMShopping study found that “55.3% of top companies don’t respond to web leads. So when customers have questions that they need answered before they purchase, what happens to your lead? Honestly, they’re disappearing into the trash.”
It is understandable that having and maintaining a call center for customer support can be quite costly, and so phasing it out for a more techy approach may be desired, but in the long run, at least at this time, it alienates a large amount of the population more than not. With the study showing that 77% of shoppers want to speak to a real person before buying, and that 43% of online shoppers end up picking up the phone, not having this option available can be causing the loss of who knows how much additional business. Ask the website team to check and see just how many abandoned shopping carts take place on the site and consider that these people may have wanted to talk, but when no option was found, they moved on.
The article by Martins gives these examples on ways to best serve the customer:
- Add your businesses phone number to the checkout page. This will enable customers to ring with a quick query before making a purchase.
- Add a ‘request call back’ option to the checkout page, so that an agent can help an online customer as they checkout – this can help to avoid abandoned shopping carts.
- Implement intelligent call routing so that their call goes to the department they are likely to need (based on previous purchase/phone calls).
- Use an IVR (interactive voice response system) menu to ensure customers get through to the right department.
These types of service philosophies and ideas are great to know for anyone seeking to fill a CSR position. Knowing your customer base better will always help a company to better focus their service options so as to offer the quickest and smoothest means available.
Image courtesy of Imagery Majestic, at FreeDigitialPhotos.net