Digital customer care trends – part three: the phone is still popular

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The world has gone digital on a daily basis and there’s no getting away from it. Over the last 20 years or so we’ve experienced a tsunami of devices, applications, channels and all kinds of innovations that have reshaped the way we live. But with all this posting, sharing, tweeting, snapping and Instagram story-telling, you would be forgiven for thinking that the phone is no longer a requirement.


Perhaps, surprisingly, you would be wrong. Yes, usage is declining, but nowhere near the speed at which people had anticipated. Over 80% of us have made calls to a contact centre during the last six months. Despite the numerous different options for interacting with customers, the phone still remains a very popular channel.

But the phone isn’t just popular in its own right, it’s a very important component of the overall digital experience. The phone complements all other digital channels. And while we strive to optimise the digital experience, the call centre acts as a safety net. If customers get stuck on the app, they pick up the phone. If they get stuck on the website, they pick up the phone. Each time a customer fails to answer their query, they go back to the tried and tested formula of the call centre (81% of us want a phone number included on every page of apps and websites).

But that’s not to say the phone is without its challenges. With the phone, frustration seldom comes from the technology, but from processes or agents knowledge. Many people point to product or service knowledge as a source of frustration, the customer knowing more about the item in question than the agent. Many claim to be put on hold while the agent figures out what is the right thing to say. These kind of basic issues need to be addressed if overall customer experience is to improve.

Call centre agents can also be difficult to track down a second or third time, often resulting in the customer having to go through the same story all over again, and that’s after repeating the process of identifying themselves. Customers like the ability to email or message the agent they’ve been speaking with post conversation. Addressing this requires taking a 360 degree view of the customer and their journey so that time to resolution can be faster.

At BT we’ve been running an extensive global research programme since 2010. We want to know what digital channels and devices customers are using to communicate with companies and if their expectations are for these communication are being met. Our latest output from this research programme is ‘Chat, Tap, Talk. Eight key trends in Digital Customer Care’. Download your complimentary copy here.  

Joseph Walsh


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