The call center industry is young, having cut its teeth in the 1980s, but it has nonetheless grown rapidly. What started out as a single-channel department has, over the years, transitioned to a multi-channel operation with at least seven different functions, including e-mail, IVR, voice, chat, text, video and Web. But, as our service offerings become more and more multifunctional, the voice channel begins to play a (slightly) lesser role.
Seeing how the great majority of people now proudly own a smart device, it seems that everywhere you look today, someone is reading, texting or engaging in some other form of action that requires one’s eyes to be glued downward toward a screen. However, very seldom do you see someone speaking on their cellphone.
While the number of texts being sent and received continues to grow, the number of voice calls continues to drop. This year, research from Experian revealed that the average U.S. smartphone owner aged 18-24 sends about 67 texts every day. Meanwhile, according to separate data captured by a screen lock app, the average user checks their phone around 110 times per day. Even Emergency 911 systems across the U.S. are starting to incorporate texting.
So, how does this affect the call center? Experts report that this shift will continue along the course it’s currently traveling, which makes transitioning to multi-channel call center solutions critical to maintaining maximum efficiency and high-value service.
As you plan your 2014 budget, take a look at your incoming contact records for the past year. Are you seeing significant increases in non-voice channels? If the percentage of voice contacts in your call center is still higher than you would like it to be, consider how you can lower that number in the year ahead by better utilizing your call center solutions – or investing in something new altogether.
The fourth quarter is a perfect time to audit your touchpoints and processes and ensure that you are providing enough flexibility for your customers concerning how they connect with you. Perhaps you need to reroute your IVR, update your FAQs, adjust the number of online chats an agent handles simultaneously or incentivize customers to use your website. Whatever it may be, identify it and work toward improving it. For example, reach out to your call center partners for ideas being used by their other clients. Or, ask your customers how they want to be communicated with; their input will ensure that you are keeping them satisfied while still achieving your cost goals.
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