Despite the telephone being the most popular channel for support, it also has the reputation for being the most frustrating method.
Repeating information to agents, waiting on hold, and navigating phone menus are the main reasons customers dread the call center. Negative caller experiences drive customers to the competition, and to share these experiences with the world through social media, eroding the reputations of countless companies.
Customers Prefer Phone Conversations
A recent Forrester Consulting titled “North America 2011 Consumer Preference Report – Contact Centers” finds that the overwhelming majority of consumers (81%) prefer phone support, far ahead of email (33%), the next most popular channel.
The study also found that a “phone conversation” was the most often used method in the prior 3 months, with 44% of those surveyed, compared to just 15% for email.
Why is the phone so popular? Customers want to “interact with a real person,” and view human interaction as a critical part of excellent customer service. They want to quickly reach someone who can resolve their issue as fast as possible, two key strengths the phone has over other channels.
Excellent’ Customer Service is Hard to Find
Unfortunately, most customer service departments are focused on minimizing support costs, rather than delivering a call center experience that doesn’t frustrate their customers. In fact, the same Forrester report found that only 8% of consumers are provided with ‘excellent’ customer service.
Higher customer expectations, reshaped by social media channels such as Twitter and increased business competition, makes it even harder to satisfy callers.
When the Forrester study asked respondents what makes a customer service interaction excellent, quick issue resolution and human interaction topped the list.
Here’s what they wanted:
1. “I am able to interact with a customer service representative quickly.”
2. “My query is resolved quickly.”
3. “I am able to interact with a person.”
Fast support remains a challenge for most organizations, and is a major reason why people are so disappointed with customer service centers today.
What Frustrates Callers the Most?
Most call centers are an absolute nightmare for callers. The three most common complaints increase the time it takes to reach an agent and have an issue resolved in a timely manner.
1. Phone Menus
People hate navigating phone menus, also known interactive voice response (IVR) menus. They are supposed to help callers, but have countless amounts of grief over the years. Customers are infuriated with valuable time wasted trying to reach a support representative.
2. Waiting on Hold
Waiting on hold for long periods of time to reach a support representative is not acceptable. An automated voice that regularly tells customers, ‘your call is important to us, we’ll be with you shortly’ insults their intelligence and makes them even angrier.
3. Repeating Information
Repeating information to multiple agents not only slows down customers from getting their issue resolved, it also suggests that the offending company can’t get their act together, hurting their credibility.