Let’s talk about myths.
Not the ones you’re used to hearing – “it takes seven years to digest gum” or “lighting never strikes the same place twice” (both of which aren’t true btw) – but rather, myths pertaining to the call center.
Here are 4 call center myths you should think twice about:
Myth #1: Call center agents don’t care about customer service.
It’s easy to see why this is a common misconception. After all, agents are on the front lines of customer service – naturally, they’re usually to blame when callers aren’t satisfied.
Agents really are an extension of the corporate culture towards customer service – they’re as effective as the companies they serve. According to Deloitte Consulting, 62% of companies view the customer experience provided through the contact center as a competitive differentiator, and are looking to improve the service they deliver.
This is good news for consumers: Companies that make customer service a real priority will hire, train and empower agents who are a reflection of that commitment.
Myth #2: Call centers are really just “cost centers”.
Many companies look at customer service as a “cost center” – a function that adds expense without adding revenue. But the successful ones know the importance of maximizing every opportunity to interact with customers.
An example: Zappos, legendary for its customer service, strives to answer 80% of its calls within 20 seconds. According to CEO Tony Hsieh,
… we’ve found that on average, our customers telephone us at least once at some point, and if we handle the call well, we have an opportunity to create an emotional impact and a lasting memory … Our philosophy has been that most of the money we might ordinarily have spent on advertising should be invested in customer service, so that our customers will do the marketing for us through word of mouth.
Only the call center can turn a frustrated customer into a loyal one.
Myth #3: No one uses the phone anymore.
The emergence of channels like social media and mobile, have had a major impact on how companies deliver customer service. But that doesn’t take away from the importance of the voice channel. Rather, it means just the opposite: telephone conversations with a live agent matter more than ever.
While consumers have individual channel preferences, their need to have a telephone-based conversation with an agent rises dramatically with the complexity of the inquiry, according to American Express.
Take a simple inquiry, like “what’s my balance?” – only 16% said an agent conversation was their desired channel. As the inquiry gets more complex, like “I want to return a product”, the percentage of people that preferred the phone channel doubled – to 38%. Finally for a difficult inquiry, like “I have a charge to dispute”, the phone channel is dominant with 46% preferring a phone call (in contrast to 9% who preferred online channels).
When it matters most, customers still prefer a phone call.
Myth #4: Callers don’t really mind being on hold.
While it’s true that consumers are used to being put on hold, it is consistently ranked as one of the top complaints when phoning a call center. Study after study has shown the impact of this kind of poor experience on the buying habits of consumers – just look at onholdwith.com to see how bad it can be.
One easy way to improve the call-center experience is to replace hold-time with a call-back, using a solution like Fonolo. This gives callers the option to “press 1 to get a call-back from the next agent”, rather than wait on hold.
What’s clear is that, given the opportunity, customers will choose companies that provide better phone-based customer service.