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Just how important is your customer contact centre to you?

For some companies, call centres are seen as a last resort for extremely frustrated customers who have struggled online or in store and need assistance completing their transaction.

In reality, the customer contact centre is at the forefront of customer experience and can often be the only ‘human’ interaction a customer has with a brand.

However, call centres are not well received by customers. Research from Forrester revealed that just 49% of customers are “satisfied” with transitions from the web to the phone.

The reason for this poor ranking is that staff in the customer contact centre have no insight into the problem that caused the customer to reach out for assistance.

Without knowing ‘why’ a customer has had a poor online experience, the call centre agent isn’t able to provide quick, relevant assistance. Instead, the agent is forced to ask time-consuming diagnostic questions.

This lack of visibility and context creates a multichannel customer experience gap that results in slower problem resolution, lower first-call resolution rates, and ultimately dissatisfied customers.

Run that past me again…

Imagine that you’re a travel insurance provider. A customer visits your mobile website to purchase a policy for an upcoming holiday, entering the site through a link from one of your airline partners.

After completing the online quote form, she calls the contact centre to clarify the small print and talk through the cover offered by different policies.

However, your customer contact centre has no visibility into the online experience and the customer has to repeat all of the information she already entered online. How frustrating! Then, to make matters even worse, she is quoted a higher priced than she was quoted online.

Perhaps the customer contact centre agent realises the discrepancy and can act quickly to reproduce the previously quoted price. While this might save the sale, the process has wasted valuable time for the customer.

Maybe the agent will have to send the traveller back to your website to complete the transaction. If her session has timed out, she may end up re-entering all of the information about her trip a third time.

Or, she may just leave your site in frustration and decide to turn to a competitor with a less frustrating sales process.

Is this really how you want to treat your customers?

The scenario above depicts a common interaction pattern today. While website and mobile channels have driven online self-service across any number of industries, a significant portion of the transactions that begin online continue to require a helping hand, and a human touch.

More troubling still, these customers typically encounter a customer contact centre that seems to act like a completely different company from the websites they just visited.

Gaining insight into customer experience

Any multichannel retailer who takes customer experience seriously needs to empower call centre agents with enough insight for them to see first-hand what customers are experiencing online.

With the right tools, visibility, and processes, call centre agents can resolve issues faster and deliver a positive, multichannel customer experience.

Geoff Galat

Published 30 November, 2011 by Geoff Galat

Geoff Galat is Worldwide VP of Marketing at IBM Tealeaf and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

25 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

Paul Walsh

Paul Walsh, Founder & CEO at Infinity Call Tracking

Really enjoyed this article, Geoff. It highlights the fact that, in many sectors and for many customers, calling someone up is a central part of making a purchase. Ignoring that, or deliberately trying to drive customers towards the sorts of online bookings they aren't comfortable making might seem like a good way not to have to deal with the costs associated with handling calls, but might, in the end, mean you are losing sales.

I've blogged about your articles and some of the issues I think it raises on our company blog. http://www.infinity-tracking.com/blog/2011/11/why-online-booking-systems-arent-enough/?sm=Infinity%20Blog

about 5 years ago

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Eptica

What is important is not just that contact centre staff can see the entire customer journey to date, but that they see it in real-time, as this is what cross-channel consumers rightly expect and demand. More on what organisations need to do to meet cross-channel needs in the Eptica blog at http://eptica.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/crossing-the-channel/

about 5 years ago

Paul Walsh

Paul Walsh, Founder & CEO at Infinity Call Tracking

I agree with Eptica, if you can screen pop to the operator the customers journey and/or product they have looked at, this gives a much slicker experience for the consumer.

Furthermore. if your site has a login facility then a token can be sent to the CRM to see who the customer is; and/or recognise their phone number then the operator can greet them by name.

about 5 years ago

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Ciaran Rogers

Also enjoyed this article Geoff. Just wanted to add another angle...online digital customer service often leaves a lot to be desired. Check out this spoof video from the Google Analytics team. As well as raising a smile, it raises some serious digital customer service questions... http://youtu.be/3Sk7cOqB9Dk

about 5 years ago

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Kit Hamilton

Thank you Geoff. Agree 100% that organizations that take customer experience seriously should empower call center agents with enough insight for them to see first-hand what customers are experiencing online. Clearly, being multi-channel requires more than have more than one channel. Kit Hamiliton | Pitney Bowes Business Insight | Blogging at: www.pbinsight.com/blog/author/kit.hamilton/

about 5 years ago

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