Special Report - Operations & Fulfillment: Rethink Your (Web-Influenced) Call Center
When catalogers and retailers first started to go multichannel, they believed Web-based self-service would be significantly more cost efficient than fielding a full operation of customer service reps at terminals. Over the long haul, they reasoned, humans are more expensive than machines.
But like the benefits of the paperless office, many call-center payroll reductions have been elusive.
Remember, too, the theories of how self-service was supposed to work and the beneficial impact it was supposed to have on your bottom line — they came from equipment vendors and software designers. In effect, the promised payroll savings were part of a sales pitch. The rosy forecasts didn’t take into account all the real experiences, expectations and feelings of customers or employees.
When self-service doesn’t work, customers see it as a negative. If the information customers seek — either to make a purchase decision or fix a problem — isn’t readily available online, they get frustrated and need a greater level of care and attention from live reps.
Customers often don’t want to do much research, read long texts or pick through the process steps available online. They want quick, customized help. And when the detail they want isn’t immediately apparent online, they can feel the company is neglecting them. This frustration is exacerbated when service e-mails are too generic or a live rep doesn’t appear to have access to better information than the customer found online.
So the phone call that’s meant to resolve the problem takes longer than ever. The rep must calm the customer even before establishing the problem, and then the rep needs access to better information than the customer was able to find. Handling a disgruntled or confused customer may take not only a good deal longer, but also require a much higher level of skill than garden-variety service inquiries.