Call Center Scheduling Feature Article
December 10, 2013
Contact Center Telephone Support May Be Expensive, But It's Still Number One for Customers
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor
For decades, companies have been dreaming of being able to do away with the contact center. Surely, they think, there must be some way to answer customer’s questions that isn’t so expensive. A list of frequently asked questions, or a user’s manual, or a Web site, that can take care of all customer issues so we don’t have to go through the expense of a contact center.
Keep dreaming. It’s never going to happen.
While a multitude of channels have sprung up in recent years to accompany the telephone – e-mail, Web chat, user forums, mobile phone apps, social media and more – there is overwhelming amount of evidence that demonstrates that these media are complementary to the telephone…not replacements for it, blogged customer support solutions provider Zendesk recently.
“Yet, phone support continues to be the most popular support channel,” wrote the Zendesk blogger. “Customers continue to have more faith that a live human being can help them more than anything else. And organizations know that phone support is a support channel they can’t ignore. It’s more trustworthy and makes it easy for customers to talk through what can be complex and technical issues.”
A recent infographic released by Zendesk confirms this. Based on a survey by analyst group Forrester (News - Alert) Research, the infographic shows that 79 percent of customers prefer speaking to a live agent by telephone over any other channel. Email takes a distant second place with 33 percent, followed by Web self-service at 19 percent, Web chat at 12 percent, automated phone systems (interactive voice response) at 10 percent, text messaging at three percent and social media at two percent. While these multimedia channels may be on the rise – and they are – it will be a long time (if ever) that they replace the telephone.
Telephone support, of course, isn’t cheap, notes the Zendesk blogger.
“The cost of phone support and building out traditional call centers is expensive. The average cost of an inbound call is $5.90. Sounds pretty low, until you consider that call centers on average field about 45.4 billion calls per year. And as their company grows and their number of support agents increases, it can be difficult to scale the kind of personal customer support they had at the beginning. Plus, building out call center can often take months to get ramped up and require and intense amount of training.”
This need to provide robust customer support by phone as well as “an intense amount of training” raises another need: a robust scheduling solution that means a company can actually take all of the calls it gets and not leave customers on hold, dropped or abandoned. Servicing the telephone channel is relatively useful if you can’t do it well.
What this underscores is that organizations today need a first-class contact center with robust telephone support and workforce optimization, but it’s unwise to build one in the dark, using strung-together legacy equipment and taking a “learn as we go” approach. For some companies, this may mean turning telephone support over to a third party on an outsourced basis. For other companies, it may mean turning to the cloud to keep upfront costs down and options flexible. Whatever the solution that’s right for your company, one thing remains clear: you can’t abandon the telephone channel.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi