Living In A Digital World
How hard do you find it to contact companies' customer service departments?
How long have you spent searching for the right phone number or e-mail address?
If you're anything like me, frustration about the waste of my time and disregard of mycustomer loyalty soon sets in.
Did you know that some companies actually hide their phone numbers in a misguided effort to force customers to use alternative ways to contact them in order to keep their own servicing costs down?
Whilst I can see how this makes pure operational cost sense, and that there are brands and situations where this is expected; but in so many aspects, this is a flawed strategy.
Having purchased an item, and quite rightly expecting some level of service after having spent their money, there are still many, many people who just want to make a quick phone call and speak to a human.
They do not want to spend many minutes wading their way through six or seven levels of phone menus. They do not want to call to be told "Did you can you use our website to…."
What? You have a website?? Wow! Well, why didn't I think of that before I called?!?!?
Customers may not know how to use, or feel comfortable using, on-line chat. They may not be the fastest at typing or feel confident communicating that way. They may use Facebook to keep in touch with family and friends but wouldn't want to (or know how to) use it or Twitter to "talk" to companies they do business with (effective as the latter sometimes can be).
However, now it seems that many organisations are not properly managing "alternative digital channels" (that's ways of contacting companies other than by telephone, to you and me, i.e. e-mail, web self-service, on-line chat, text and social media) either.
Specialist IT infrastructure service & solutions provider Dimension Data has recently published its annual Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report with research from organisations in 81 countries across the globe.
"While telephone interactions in the contact centre are managed,
tracked, and quality controlled, the same performance rigour isn't
always applied to digital channels," explains Rob Allman, Dimension
Data's Group Principal Director, Customer Experience and
Collaboration. "This can lead to an inconsistent and degraded
customer experience across a brand or services company."
Although many digital experiences can be good, I think many customers could easily name companies where this isn't the case. In addition, Allman states "2 in 5 (40%) organisations said that their digital channel systems don't meet existing business needs, and only 19% are confident that their future requirements will be met."
So, given that is the case, companies and organisations must surely want to provide a good telephone experience? "The alternative channels are cheaper to process customer enquiries" I hear them say. That's a great cost saving until the customer votes with their feet.
PleasePress1.com's own survey of nearly 3,500 respondents shows that 75% would consider leaving a company and not doing business with them again due to a bad contact experience.
But, there is hope….
"New digital technologies must be designed with how they'll be consumed in mind. Organisations also need to understand the user experience and customers' expectations if they want successful adoption of the technology and to achieve the desired business outcomes," adds Joe Manuele, Group Executive of Dimension Data's Customer Experience and Collaboration Business Unit.
"The complexity of providing customers with a connected experience frequently spans multiple channels including internet, web chat, social media, and phone. This requires greater capability and understanding of the customer journey when engaging with an organisation's contact centre. To be effective, the technology solutions need design,ownership, and especially a human touch".
But in the meantime, while these alternative channels are evolving and being perfected to provide the ideal contact environment, the strategy for any company who cares about its customers should be to make it as painless as possible for their customers to contact them by phone.
To do this is simple and cost effective:
- make the relevant phone numbers available and easy to find;
- keep phone menus simple;
- publish the phone menus on PleasePress1.com