The Dominance of Voice as a Preferred Customer Service Channel

Many contact centers nowadays utilize an omnichannel strategy for customer service with the hope of reaching the greatest possible audience. When done right, this can be an excellent approach to meeting the demands of customers and marketing a brand. However, the rising popularity of chat and social media have not diminished the value of the traditional customer service channel: voice.The most recent Contact Center Satisfaction Index (CCSI) for 2014 indicated that 57% of consumers still prefer to use the voice channel, as was also reported the previous year in the same study. Furthermore, a study by CX Act Inc., a customer experience improvement firm, found that over half the customers studied preferred to reach out by phone as they found it best for resolving issues, using other channels to a much lesser degree. Interestingly, the study also found that the rise in calling agents was mostly attributed to a failure in email responses to the customer-agents taking too long to resolve issues or failing to do so thoroughly.Why is voice still popular with the myriad of customer service channels available today? The main takeaway often seems to be that customers sometimes prefer the human, personal touch of speaking to an agent by phone, and other channels just might not be able–or are not yet optimized enough–to deliver it. There are other factors to consider as well. Some people may not be comfortable with social media or have access to it, so turning to phone calls can be the best or easiest way. For example, an older generation of consumers may prefer voice, as customer service has traditionally been conducted via telephone. Other consumers may not think they receive good enough service on other channels, especially if a contact center has not optimized its services across all channels. As the earlier study noted, a surge in customer service calls may be an indication of poor service on other channels and should be looked at carefully. Finally, voice is reassuring for customers, as human contact may make them feel the problem will be better understood and resolved. Complex issues may need to be discussed and can’t always be resolved through self-service or even on another channel with an agent, so customers turn to voice.As verbal communication remains the most natural way to communicate, contact centers should embrace the voice channel and optimize it for customer service. Agents should be prepared to engage in conversation with customers, taking the time to personalize calls and, even when following call scripts, remember to humanize the interaction as much as possible. It’s important not to forget that some customers may be turning to agents after unsuccessful attempts on other channels, so it’s especially important to listen well and empathize. This also means that agents need to be highly trained to solve any issues that arise, with resources and other agents and managers readily available when seeking more information or needing to route a call to a more appropriate person. An excellent contact center solution could also provide features optimized for voice: IVR, visual IVR, and excellent CRM software all make a difference in giving customers the best experience on this channel, while features such as viewing callers in a queue and scheduling callbacks are equally important.With the dominance of the voice channel, contact center agents have an opportunity to humanize a company’s brand and foster customer loyalty by delivering stellar customer service. Learn more about excellent contact center software solutions at www.vocalcom.com.

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