7 reasons why phones should not be your primary customer service channel

If you are like most small businesses, you will have a phone support option that is either operated in-house or outsourced to a third party call center.

In many cases, that’s the only support option you might offer.

However, most businesses are far better served by not relying on phone support exclusively.

One reason is the cost- according to the US Content Center Decision Makers’ Guide, call centers annually spend $12.4 billion just for authenticating the identity news of the caller.

We are not even talking about the costs associated with the rest of the call

Here are 7 other reasons for not putting all your customer service eggs in the phone basket.

1. There’s no record of what’s discussed with the customer

If a customer calls up your phone support, they will get a ticket number or a case number. The paper trail ends there.

The caller or the agent won’t have an easily available and searchable record of what’s discussed on a support call, unless the call is recorded and transcribed.

On the other hand, if you add a live chat or an email support functionality to your site both parties can easily store details of help desk tickets or live chat transcripts for future reference.

2. You can’t transfer documentation on the phone

This is a critical problem especially if you have to refer customers to resources that might be present on your site or elsewhere. You can’t spell out a long link on the phone, or email a document to the customer without constantly repeating and confirming the destination address.

On the other hand, that’s easy to do that with live chat.

3. Phone support can’t be scaled up cost-effectively

When an agent is on the phone, they can’t do a lot of multitasking. If your company expands you will have to add more support staff to maintain service levels or risk longer wait times for customers. You’ll also have to raise your prices to pay for more staff or keep them at the same level and risk going out of business.

Live chat agents can deal with multiple people at the same time.

4. Phone support takes more time than other service options

With live chat its quite easy to point the customer towards self service options that you have on your site so that they can troubleshoot their problems. But on the phone, you have to spend valuable time talking about trivial things that can easily be solved by other means.

Call center agents also spend an average of 2.5 min between calls doing nothing. This adds up to 49 minutes every day and 5 weeks per year per agent (source: The US Contact Center Decision Makers Guide 2012, Pp 7 & 10).

Do the math, and you’ll quickly see that you may be leaving a huge amount of money on the table.

5. Customers don’t like to deal with accents on the phone

With globalization, even small businesses are outsourcing their call centers overseas. One of the side effects of this is customer dissatisfaction with agents not understanding or being able to speak clearly, owing to accents and cultural differences

On non voice channels, you won’t have this problem as long as the agent can type clearly. That’s easier than being able to speak a foreign language like a native speaker.

6. Phone support might not be the best for international calls

Sure, there are VOIP solutions like Skype for your international customers to ring up your number, but what if your customers are not that savvy? Or what if they don’t want to jump through additional hoops of buying minutes to call your lines?

Make it simple by offering a live chat option on your site.

7. There’s no need to stress over meaningless metrics

Most call center operators swear by metrics like call times. Lower call times are equated with greater the profitability, however, this metric can do more harm than good. And because call centers are outsourced, your customers will blame you for events over which you don’t have any control.

You don’t have to race against the clock to run an efficient operation. A complete help desk software suite makes it easy to focus on more important business metrics like first contact resolution.

Conclusion

To be clear, I am not advocating moving your entire support infrastructure from phone support to live chat. That would be dumb, and in a few cases it may even anger your customers. In any case, you will need to have a working phone number on your contact details so that people know you are not some fly-by-night operator.

But what I am saying is, you can reduce the amount of money you spend on phone support without sacrificing the overall quality of your customer service.

Thoughts?

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