In the face of growing customer expectations, businesses face the imperative of adopting an omnichannel customer support strategy. This is no easy feat, especially at first. One pitfall is to sacrifice the efficiency of established support channels in order to spearhead new ones. This often results in an overall decline in a company’s quality of support. This is why using the phone for customer support is still paramount to customer satisfaction.
The phone channel plays a large part in customer success and in the quality of your business’ customer support. Now more than ever, the phone is an indispensable channel. Therefore, the relevant technology has evolved accordingly.
Why should you be using the phone for customer support?
Despite the emergence and stabilisation of other valuable channels, the phone remains the most used (48%) and preferred (80%) method for reaching support agents.
Consequently, the advent of omnichannel doesn’t herald the end of the phone’s importance for customer support, quite the opposite. Customers expect a great deal from this channel. It’s especially tricky to have it mesh seamlessly and usefully with your other channels of support. The phone is an indispensable channel, so you must find ways to use it to your business’ advantage.
In other articles, we’ve seen how using the phone for customer support can be instrumental in reducing churn and enabling customer success. This article looks at why using the phone for customer central is still indispensable, and how to maximize its efficiency.
Using the phone for customer support benefits your customers and your business
Using the phone for customer support is necessary, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a challenge to get right. Training your support team properly is an investment of time and effort. However, strengthening your phone channel is definitely worth it, given the benefits to your customers.
In order to keep up with more demanding customers and stiffening competition, your customer support strategy must span over several channels. Non-voice channels are expanding, but often remain under-utilized or unsatisfactory, at least for now. Most companies lack the time, resources, or impetus to man these channels well. Therefore, making sure that your phone channel, at least, is solid and efficient is crucial, especially since the tools are readily available to help you pull off excellence.
Solve for speed
You might not think of the phone channel as the quickest way to resolve a customer support issue. The immediacy of a live chat window or of social media might seem more expeditious. However, it is often the case that a customer support issue starts on another channel, only to escalate to a phone call.
This can be due to a business spreading itself too thin, and offering more channels to their customer than their staff can manage. Perhaps the nature of the customer issue is too complex to resolve over another channel. Or it could be a sign that the business in question’s self-service resources aren’t up to snuff. It’s important to optimize the way your phone channel operates, since it can be a fall-back when other channels fail. Making sure your phone channel is solid and functional is crucial, especially if your business is still fleshing out alternate support channels.
To truly exemplify speed and efficiency, your support team’s objective should be first call resolution. If you structure your support funnel to encourage phone calls for more serious or complex issues, you can strive to fix them on the first call. Frequent first call resolution is a great indicator of customer satisfaction. Make first call resolution a key performance indicator common to both your support and technical teams to incentivize excellent performance.
Solve for simplicity
We’ve seen that the phone channel can serve as your safety net. But in fact the phone channel should be more than that. Lacking a prominently displayed phone number on your website makes an unfavorable impression: in 2013, 47% of people reported feeling “frustrated or annoyed” and “more likely to explore other brands” when unable to contact a business directly.
The phone channel is an means to a simplified customer experience. One example is the click-to-call feature or the automatic call-back feature. The former lets customers get in touch with the simple click of a button. The latter adds your customers to a waiting list so that they may go about their day rather than wait on hold.
Studies show that 70% of customers would rather get a call-back than wait in a call queue, and that 75% of them consider click-to-call a necessary feature. These are simple, speedy ways to get in touch with a real person and quickly fix an issue. These features are perfect examples of how the phone channel can evolve for the better thanks to VOIP phone technology.
The objective here is to increase customer satisfaction by lowering customer effort score. A phone channel is necessary in of itself. Moreover, the proper tools, features, and integrations are readily available to make your phone channel streamlined, efficient, and easy to navigate.
Solve for empathy
Part of the reason why the phone remains a preferred channel for customers is its potential for empathy. Being able to interact with an invested and attentive human voice is invaluable when it comes to fostering a good rapport with a customer. Empathetic customer support is a way to increase customer loyalty.
Since the phone is a great vector for making customers feel valued, your support staff needs the proper training to succeed. An empathetic rapport means making your customer’s issue your own, and showing the caller that they aren’t just another number. It’s hard to make customer interaction stand out in a channel other than the phone, precisely because it is the most human.
Therefore, using the phone for customer support also offers your business the opportunity to turn around a dissatisfied customer. It conveys more investment and attention than other channels; that means a solid shot at turning a bad review into a potential brand ambassador.
Solve for growth
The phone’s potential for simple empathy makes it a great asset for your customer service over the entire customer life cycle. Likewise, the same tool can also be a real boon for your company: through call monitoring and data collection. Collecting data relative to the customer experience is necessary for your company to grow, and that means asking your customers. Surveys are very useful in that regard. You can conduct a survey on your website, over email, and in almost any channel.
The phone is the perfect channel to use to ask for feedback on your customers’ experience. You can gain insight on customer habits and expectations, directly from the source. The problem with cold-calling to ask for feedback is that there is no added value to the call; the customer will feel their time is wasted. But since the customers calling your support team are on the phone anyways, it’s a great opportunity to ask. Once their issue has been resolved and they are feeling satisfied, the customer might agree to answer a few questions. These questions can afford to be a little more detailed and focused on a certain segment of the customer experience. Use this feedback to make data-driven decisions to benefit your business.
Though a single channel customer supportsystem is no longer viable for most businesses, the phone remains a staple in any multi-channel strategy. Using the phone channel for customer support not only serves your customer base, but benefits your business as well.
How do you use the phone for customer support? What are the benefits? If you can’t think of any, you should definitely: