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Are phones a thing of the past for contact centers?

Are phones a thing of the past for contact centers?
Neil Titcomb
Neil Titcomb UKI Sales Director – Odigo

The role of phones in the contact center is changing thanks to the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR), but does this mean that they are slowly fading as a method of communication? Let’s explore the importance of thinking like your customers to give them the support they need, when they need it, with or without phones.

January 14, 2020

Not all customers are the same. Some prefer to email, some prefer to call, and some prefer self-serve. Your customer experience must be dynamic enough to accommodate this variety with a combination of traditional and modern methods of communication.

New technologies are making both people and companies less dependent on relatively traditional means of contact like phone calls. The likes of artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) have been sparking debates for years about whether they will one day entirely replace human interactions in customer experience (CX).

The 2019 Customer Experience Trends Report from Zendesk illustrates the growing demand of self-service solutions like help centers – 40% of customers now prefer to use them before contacting support – but that doesn’t mean that phones are becoming obsolete.

They have simply undertaken new positions in customer journeys (and, what’s more, those positions are different in almost every industry).

Let’s take a closer look at the role of the phone in today’s customer experiences to see why it still matters to businesses.

The human touch still matters

AI and VR are well on the rise as far as CX is concerned. The likes of voice search via handheld or home-based devices alone has changed the way customers engage with businesses.

However, this obviously does not mean that phones are no longer relevant. In many ways, the human touch is still a critical part of the entire customer journey.

A recent global survey by Microsoft found that 30% of the people in the world think the most frustrating aspect of a poor customer experience is not being able to get through to a real person to solve their issue (p11). This makes it painfully clear that some companies are still not delivering smooth transitions between different methods of contact for their customers.

It is precisely the interdependence between these technologies that makes for a channel-less, painless experience for a customer. Your customers care about how easy it is to contact you in the first instance – and many will still opt for the phone for that very reason – but they care more about how easy it is to find a resolution to their problem.

This means that it is more important than ever to make the transitions between the methods of contacting you as smooth as possible.

Creating seamless connections between you and your customers

If a customer first contacts you via a chatbot (AKA a conversational agent) and it can’t find a suitable answer for them, the phone is going to play a significant part in keeping that customer in your funnel.

Firstly, there is the promise of achieving what the chatbot couldn’t do on this occasion: finding an answer. Secondly, there is the ability to talk directly to a human being who can have a better understanding of the idiosyncrasies of the customer’s query, which is especially important if the customer’s inquiry is loaded with emotion.

READ: A recent research report by Capgemini revealed that the demand for emotional intelligence (EI) in CX is set to increase sixfold within the next five years – you can download it to find out more here.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, there is the transition between the two means of contact. If it is not seamless, the connection between you and the customer may be lost. Given the option, they will go elsewhere to find the answers they want, and they might never come back.

If it is seamless, though, the connection between you and the customer could be strengthed and even convert him to a brand advocate after a memorable CX.

The role of phones and the importance of thinking like your customers

You can see the critical role that phones still play in the contact center; and will continue to do so for many years thanks to the vast range of customer requirements across every industry and, indeed, the speed at which they change.

Some customers in the near future, for instance, might be more efficiently served by a callbot rather than a chatbot. This means solutions will be found via an AI voice solution for the phone channel instead of a text-based chat solution that relies on the typing speed of the customer.

It’s our mission to help you adapt to such changes as a business, so we are always developing innovative solutions at Odigo to get to the root of your customers’ needs and behaviors.

By applying the best CX solution for the challenges at hand for your customers, you can not only serve them properly, but also think like them to achieve your CX objectives.

Would you like to find out more about how Odigo can help optimize the way your contact center utilizes phones?

Neil Titcomb
UKI Sales Director – Odigo

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