Short Message Service (SMS)
Want to Make Money? Shape up Your
By Brendan B. Read,
Senior Contributing Editor
Here is a tip for contact center executives to make money and not leave it on the table in these challenging economic times: clean up your voice (i.e. IVR self-service) and quit treating as steerage for those stereotyped 80 percent of customers who generate the 20 percent of revenues who don’t qualify to “speak promptly with a live agent.”
A new report from Genesys (News - Alert) Telecommunications Laboratories, “The Cost of Poor Customer Service” spells the issue out. It estimates that lousy treatment of those who put money in the hands of businesses ding the U.S. economy to the tune of $83 billion. Where is this coming from? Some 71 percent of consumers that have ended a relationship due to a poor customer service experience.
What is the impact to enterprises? How about an average value of $289 in one year of each customer relationship lost to a competitor or abandoned? Add those up and we’re talking serious money.
So why do customers leave? The Genesys report points to having them repeat themselves, being trapped in automated self-service, forced to wait too long for service, contact centers that don’t their history and value and an inability to switch channels easily.
Which is the most problematic channel? IVR, what else? 33 percent of respondents cited it as the most challenging mode. Moreover 38 percent said “it is critical to improve voice self-service to make it more intelligently integrated with human assisted service.”
One reason is the nightmares of busy consumers trying to get out of automated Hades to reach live agents. The Genesys report revealed that spent more than 9.5 minutes trying to reach a person.
“As a result, even paper mail is preferred to poorly implemented voice self-service,” says the paper. “Consumers say the biggest issues are that voice self-service does not recognize the value of the consumer, lacks context, and needs to recognize customer needs and intent better. Another consumer said: ‘I don’t mind automated systems but...I hate it when I am unable to reach a human, and the automated voice continues to make me repeat over and over, and when I finally get close to being connected to a human, I am disconnected and have to start over again.’”
In contrast while not surprisingly most people are happy with live agents, more were satisfied with Web self-service than not. Conclusion? It isn’t the self-service per se that bugs buyers but the implementation on the voice side.
So what gives? This isn’t the first time commentators like me have beaten contact centers over the head on IVR. I’ve lost track of how many analysts and other reports that have said the same thing in the 14 years I’ve been covering and involved with this industry.
Why can’t centers make IVR as pleasing or, at best, not as offensive as the Web? Why do they insist on blowing opportunities to save large sums over live agents in handling simple calls by ticking off and driving away your customers when these supposedly valued buyers/prospects use your voice systems?
The solutions are there and there’s no excuse not to adopt them. They include trimming the menu trees and making it easy for customers to zero out: throwing obstacles in their way is only going to make them consider tossing your business into the recycle bin.
The tools also include going to user-friendly speech rec for the right applications. These solutions are becoming less expensive, easier to implement and more customizable. Microsoft has an increasingly sophisticated and affordable array of premise-installed and hosted (via its Tellme (News - Alert) subsidiary) speech products. Nuance’s latest offering, Vocalizer 5 manages the static and carrier prompts and computer-generated speech through one unified interface to deliver a seamless flow of speech, free from clicks and latencies that can hinder the user experience.
So what are you waiting for? Your competitors to take the money off your table?
I heard the IVR system is real good…at the unemployment department.
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