We live in a world of tweets, chatting, self-service – the internet and social media are ubiquitous and all-pervading. What does this mean for an important function like customer care? Would you say that the ‘Voice Channel’, for use in customer service, is over?
Well, the short answer is YES – but the long answer is NO.
Research conducted by Microsoft (and published in the “2018 State of Global Customer Service” report), asked adults ranging in age from 18 to 54 to assess the channels available for customer service. The results:
- 74% of respondents in the age bracket of 18 – 34 begin with the self-service option, while the remaining 26% immediately engage with an agent
- 67% of respondents in the age group 35 – 54 begin with the self-service option, while the remaining 33% immediately engage with an agent
The results are skewed towards self-service for the younger age group (the millennials) since millennials are obviously more tech-savvy. And in general, millennials do use the voice as a channel for customer service, but for more complex queries. However, as the numbers show, the gap is not as big as you would imagine, showing the world moving towards self-service options and online channels.
The evolution of the social media platforms and other channels has generated some speculation on voice quickly fading away from contact centers completely. But the Microsoft report clearly shows that Voice is not only alive, but it is also used to a large extent of customers from both the age groups we have discussed above.
Nevertheless, the voice alone is not sufficient for customer service. Organizations must prioritize evolving their contact centers to omnichannel services, as customer choices are changing as they get more experienced with channels other than voice, and customers have high expectations that businesses will be able to service them seamlessly across all voice and online channels.
Our experience shows that organizations must make these investments, or they will lose customers to others who provide multiple ways to engage customers. If the cost and resources needed to do this seems high, in these times of global connectivity and easily accessible third-party solutions, they can consider outsourcing these services to experienced providers who may have already mastered the ability to deploy services across multiple online and voice channels, and potentially offer these at a lower cost than the business doing it itself. And as businesses compete for customers and even prices and products are getting commoditized, these are no longer going to be the differentiators to get customers. Instead, customer service is fast becoming the most important differentiator. And one of the most important aspects of customer service is a well-functioning cost-effective contact center that can expertly manage both online and voice interactions with customers.