Will Internet Savvy Web 2.0ers Lead To The Demise Of The Traditional Call Center Model?

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I believe self-service is here to stay, and I think it works amazingly well for simple customer services issues. In these challenging economic times, the technologies discussed will also help businesses to reduce their overall customer service expenditures. With that being said, call deflection can only be taken so far. For companies that care about their brand and their overall customer experience, there will always be a need and a role for the kind and caring customer service representative who is available to speak with consumers by phone.

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Will Internet Savvy Web 2.0ers Lead To The Demise Of The Traditional Call Center Model?

  1. 1. Will Internet Savvy Web 2.0′ers Lead to the Demise of the Traditional Call Center Model? Recently, I have read that Twitter of all things is apparently the cause of significant call center layoffs. It was stated that more people than ever are taking advantage of corporate Twitter sites to ask customer service questions, which means less traditional phone call inquiries (you can read the article here ). And what is this I am hearing about ’super users’? -people that enjoy products so much that they surf the web and online corporate communities, jumping at the chance to help their fellow users by answering customer service questions. From a recent tmcnet.com article: Since last summer, Verizon has transferred much of the responsibility in certain divisions that require high levels of customer service to volunteers – people who have a passion for the wireless, Internet and TV technologies that Verizon peddles, and who like to feel useful. Sound strange? It is. But it’s also true. They’re called “super-users,” and they work through online forums that are gradually developing into self-sustaining databases where customers can go to answer all their questions. Does this all mean that the end of the traditional customer service call center is near? I don’t think so. Don’t get me wrong, there are great self-service companies out there like Bazaarvoice and Lithium, and they have a place in this ecosystem, but I think people are forgetting to examine the other side of the spectrum and companies like Zappos.com – the reigning King of the customer service experience. How does one explain Zappos.com’s success in this new self-help world? For gosh sakes they don’t even set limits for how long their agents can talk to callers, and I believe the longest service call they ever had was over 5 hours….. My current thought is that there is a middle ground, and that appropriate and tempered call deflection is the key to success.
  2. 2. What I mean by this is: Companies should take advantage of these new technologies, incorporating items like robust self-help sections to their websites, and they should also use communication channels like Twitter, live chat and email (which are usually more cost effective than voice support to deploy because of concurrency). But as is the case with Zappos, there is no replacement for the service that can be achieved through voice support. The experience is unparalleled, and for more complicated support issues it is the only viable channel that can be used to adequately understand and address a customers needs. Although a lot of startups are finding the initial cost savings of self- service tools appealing, as these companies mature, if they hope to develop a long term and re-occurring customer base they are going to have to invest in multi-channel customer service which is anchored by traditional phone support. Simply put, customer’s expectations are higher than ever, and consumers expect a multitude of contact options so they can interact with a company in the way they feel most comfortable. To conclude, I think self-service is here to stay, and I think it works amazingly well for simple customer services issues. In these challenging economic times, the technologies discussed will also help businesses to reduce their overall customer service expenditures. With that being said, call deflection can only be taken so far. For companies that care about their brand and their overall customer experience, there will always be a need and a role for the kind and caring customer service representative who is available to speak with consumers by phone. Tim Peters Call Center Outsourcing Consultant 1.800.586.1535

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