Keep the Live Channels Alive

By Laura MacDonald | 23/02/2021

I am in the midst of a home improvement project. It has been what is frequently referred to as a “learning experience,” meaning that mistakes have been made and it’s taken a lot longer than expected! Last week I was disappointed to unwrap the new bathroom sink tap to find that it was so tiny that it must have been designed with Barbie’s Malibu beach house in mind. Any use in an average sized sink would result in water being sprayed all over the sink unit, ruining the painstakingly lacquered surfaces.

So, I look up the company that I bought it from online and find that there are no contact details in the ‘contact’ section. There’s simply a link to open a chat bot. I find the invoice, and again no contact details are listed. So, I resolve to try the bot and begin typing. After a series of questions, it determines that I need to speak to a real-life advisor. I’m told to wait and am informed that a busy period is ongoing so there might be a delay. I wait, and wait, and wait. I carry on with some work and periodically check progress but over an hour later I’m still in the lobby. I give up and decide to go make a cup of tea. Five minutes later I return to discover that after 75 minutes contact was attempted, and the chat was disconnected after my failure to reply to three prompts.

I’m afraid to say, that for me, lockdown has sometimes had the result of enlarging the significance of everyday ups and down to monumental significance and you can bet I was annoyed! This irritation was unfortunately increased by the lack of any attempt being made to follow up on my contact. An email or call would have been highly appreciated and would have restored my good feeling but no! It was another long wait at the computer for me, until an advisor finally connected and quickly arranged for a return.

At CXCo we have noticed that many of our customers are seeing increases in negative comments about online customer experience. A recent analysis of survey results from the last quarter of 2020 for an energy supplier revealed that the free text negative comments made in this period showed almost a seven-fold increase in negative comments made about the online experience. There was also a 41% increase in negative comments made about inefficiencies and delays, including the long wait experienced for a reply to online messages. This is because demand changed but the allocation of resources was not flexible enough.

Efficiency is a key driver for customer satisfaction, and customers expect their enquiries to be dealt with smoothly and quickly. Since lockdown people have been very understanding over long call wait times, as they empathise with the changed circumstances that call centres are operating in. But there is less forgiveness of why live channels might not be as live as expected. They need to be quick and easy and if they merely result in long wait times and annoyance, then they have failed on their premise. This is especially true if, as in the case of my bathroom supplies company, they are offered as the sole means of customer support. In this case it is essential to put effort into the design and management of them and not leave people hanging.

I was interested to read this recent report by Zendesk that describes how agile companies are finding success at the moment by using live channels in a responsive way.  It details now that those with live channels are now solving 32 percent more tickets by using them. They are also increasing staffing on phone and chat by more than 16 percent and 61% have added new online resources. If AI bots are able to point customers to online resources, then the customers are empowered to find the answers themselves without needing to wait to speak to an advisor. Being agile isn’t just about having the live channels available, it is about responding to volume and customer need and ensuring you have adequate staffing and that online help resources are kept updated and available for use.

It is clear that there is of course a financial implication involved in monitoring the use of live channels and scaling up resources accordingly, but this is an investment into the future of your business. The focus should be upon retaining customers and attracting new business through their recommendations and this investment is absolutely worth making.

CXCo helps you to understand and improve upon your customer experience. We can perform one off reviews and recommendations or else be your partner in the development and management of an ongoing customer experience monitoring and improvement programme.

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