Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in a Webinar called “Right Channeling Customer Service: A Practical Guide Webinar” sponsored by ATG and IntelliResponse. The Webinar focused on aligning the right customer with the right channel at the right time.
There were a lot of good questions at the end of the Webinar, and one in particular struck my attention. The question was, “What is the cost per contact for click-to-call compared to a call originated by a customer?”
Ryan Hoppe, director of product marketing at ATG, answered the question. I thought his comments were insightful and wanted to share them.
According to Ryan, click-to-call sessions pass context from the session to the telephone rep. As a result, there is less discovery time required. This can reduce interaction time by about 10%.
Ryan also advised that contact resolution time isn’t the only key metric. In fact, click-to-call sessions may take a bit longer depending on the nature of the call. He said ATG has a client that found click-to-call transactions were a bit longer, but the client experienced a significant reduction in subsequent calls. This occurred because click-to-call was employed to help customers manage their accounts online. Having a live rep help customers get started meant they didn’t need repeated calls. Ryan recommended looking at First Contact Resolution (FCR) rates when assessing the value of click-to-call.
Here is a link to the Webinar in case you’d like to listen to the recording or download its slides. I hope you’ll find the content relevant and thought-provoking.
There is a lot of hype around mobile. There is good reason for a lot of this hype: Mobile Internet usage is increasing. At year-end 2007, only 11% of US adult cell phone owners accessed the mobile Web monthly or more. By mid-2009, adoption had risen to 17%. Daily use of the mobile Internet has also been increasing, and by mid-year 2009, daily use of the mobile Web was 10% of adults with mobile phones. For more details, see the July 29, 2010, “Making the Case for the Mobile Internet” Forrester report.
But in all of the conversations about if and when to develop m-commerce and mobile apps, it’s important that another conversation also occurs: What happens when users need customer service from within a mobile Web site or app?
Here are some key questions:
Is it easy for a consumer to find “Contact Us” information on your mobile Web site? It is an ongoing pet peeve of mine that it is typically easier to use mobile Google — showing consumers all of your competitors' contact information as well.
Is your help content optimized for mobile Internet and app users?
Can you extend your existing online customer service channels to the mobile Internet? Don’t just think email. Think virtual agent, chat, click to call . . .
One of the questions I'm frequently asked by clients is if virtual agents are a good idea. Many of us have had frustrating interactive agent experiences over the years (recall Clippy, Microsoft’s animated paperclip that launched a thousand parodies).
Times have changed, and I think virtual agents are worth taking a look at. Today’s virtual agents can guide consumers through your Web site while answering questions effectively and conversationally.
As virtual agent technology continues to become more sophisticated — features such as integrating with enterprise systems like shipping and delivery or CRM availability on mobile devices — virtual agents will continue to take on more complex customer service issues.
One of the benefits that I think is really compelling is that if a consumer escalates to live help, the transcript is pushed to the call rep, reducing call resolution times and sparing customers the annoyance of having to start from the beginning to explain their problem.
These features matter for many reasons. Here are two big ones.
I’ve been asked several times recently if consumers find proactive chat to be intrusive or annoying. It’s true that most consumers prefer to initiate contact with customer service. However, 27% of online consumers agree with the statement, "I like having an instant messaging/online chat box appear and ask if I need help with my online research or purchase." (North American Technographics Customer Experience Online Survey, Q4 2009 [US])
And what about the other 73% of consumers? I don’t believe it is the prospect of chatting that annoys people. It is the interruption. So what can you do to annoy-proof a proactive chat invitation?
First, make sure the invitation design clearly communicates that this is a chat invite and not a pop-up ad. Also make it easy to decline. The layout and design should make declining just as easy as accepting. For me, it is that split second of looking for the “no thanks” that propels a proactive invitation from innocuous to irritating. Respect declines. In a recent transaction on Virgin America’s Web site, I was interrupted several times in as many minutes by a proactive chat invitation. That was annoying. Once a customer has declined, either don’t offer again or set explicit rules in place that incorporate the previous decline.
If you’d like more information on how to implement proactive chat, I’ve recently published “Making Proactive Chat Work," which I hope will be helpful.
Right-channeling often gets a bad rap. Many eBusiness professionals interpret right-channeling to mean railroading customers into the lowest-cost customer service channel. But that is only half the picture. Cost savings are certainly an objective — but not at the expense of customer satisfaction. Right-channeling means providing customers with a satisfying service experience through the most cost-appropriate channel.
Today, effective customer service right-channeling is challenged by limited channels. Mediocre site search and static FAQs result in unsatisfactory self-service with little option but slow motion email or the most costly channel: the telephone. Luckily, there are many variable cost-per-contact online customer service channels to consider: virtual agents, click to chat, mobile, and social. eBusiness professionals face the challenge of determining what customer service channel(s) to introduce and to what extent these new channels will deflect volumes from existing channels.
Well-implemented proactive chat can offer compelling business benefits: increasing sales, reducing call center costs, improving customer satisfaction. Proactive chat availability is growing. But many companies continue to stumble in their implementation, compromising their ability to achieve these benefits.
I’ve recently had two unsatisfying chat experiences that are not unusual:
In the first instance, I was having trouble logging into my account when a proactive chat box appeared asking if I needed help. The offer of assistance began to ease my rising blood pressure. After requiring me to complete queuing questions including my zip code and the product I was inquiring about, I was told that chat couldn’t help me and directed to the 1-800 line. Clearly the rules to trigger a chat invitation following repeatedly unsuccessful attempts to log in were misplaced. My blood pressure returned to its upwards trajectory.
Social CRM is a popular topic and social customer service is a subset that I’m commonly asked about.
Social customer service is new and adoption is relatively small compared to other channels: 7% of US online consumers have used a company sponsored online forum for customer service support and 6% have used a third party forum. (Source: North American Technographics Customer Experience Online Survey, Q4 2009)
But nascent interest shouldn’t automatically relegate social customer service to your backburner. Customer satisfaction with social customer service is high. At 66%, satisfaction with third party customer service forums is the second most appealing channel behind the telephone. (Source: North American Technographics Customer Experience Online Survey, Q4 2009)
And in addition to customer satisfaction, there are several compelling business benefits to social customer service such as reputation management, building your knowledge base, deflecting calls to your call center, and shortening resolution times.
Social customer service comes in many forms, including:
Offering customer Ask and Answer or forums;
Participating in third party forums;
Using social channels such as Twitter or Facebook for customer service;
Developing a wiki.
Questions about if you should be using social customer service and what it should look like are complex. To help answer that question, my report called “How To Create A Social Customer Service Strategy” has just been published. In this report, I recommend using Forrester’s systematic approach to social strategy that we summarize by the acronym POST –people, objectives, strategy, and technology.
After a week of startlingly frequent and frustrating customer service encounters, I’ve wondered: to what extent do customer self-service metrics measure what matters to customers? There are many metrics to assess the performance of online self-service: average visits per customer, average page views, online resolution rate, number of zero-results searches, customer feedback on FAQ quality ... But how well does this measure a satisfied customer? Let’s think about what customers want:
Customers may be sympathetic to the challenges that business having been facing in the current economy. But that sympathy doesn't come with amnesty: 70% of US online consumers expect companies to try harder to provide superior online customer service in the current economy. (Source: North American Technographics Customer Experience Online Survey, Q4 2009)
I was chatting recently with eBusiness executives about the importance of having customer service excellence as part of company culture.
Zappos.com is frequently cited as a best example of customer service and company culture – and for good reason. Zappo’s #1 Core Value is to “Deliver WOW through service”. The company has embedded exceptional customer service into its DNA as a core value and essential part of its brand identity.
This raises the question: “How do you know if customer service is truly part of your culture?”
As a starting point, I recommend asking the following questions:
- Does your corporate mission statement include providing excellence in customer care and service?
- Is providing excellent customer care included in your long-term vision statement?
- Are customer service objectives well articulated within your company?
- Is measuring customer satisfaction embedded in your process for all customer-facing activities
- Do you have ongoing customer satisfaction improvement processes?
- Are employee performance metrics (including promotions, bonus, etc) – including senior positions – aligned with customer satisfaction?
If you answer "No" to any of these questions, you have likely identified an organizational weakness and an opportunity for improvement that will help you meet consumers' high expectations.
I was speaking with clients today about their views on telephone customer service. One believed that his customers liked calling the call center to solve problems with a “human touch”. His colleague countered that telephone customer service is simply too expensive to be giving away that “human touch”.
I think they are both correct. And they are both incorrect. Why? Because I believe one of the most common customer servicve misperceptions is that customers prefer to telephone you.
It’s true that the most commonly used customer service channel is the telephone. According to Forrester’s North American Technographics Customer Experience Online Survey, Q4 2009, 69% of online consumers used the telephone to speak with a customer service agent (followed by 55% who emailed customer service and 55% who used a company’s Help or FAQ section.)
It’s also true that telephone customer service has the highest satisfaction compared to other online customer service channels, at 69%. Only 60% of people who used email for customer service were satisfied and 56% of those who used Help or FAQ’s.
These are compelling numbers. But do they mean that people want to call? Or do these numbers mean that alternative online customer service channels are absent or lackluster?
Here is another compelling number: 72% of US online consumers prefer to use a company's Web site to get answers to their questions rather than contact companies via telephone or email; roughly half this group strongly prefers self-reliance.