The digitally-transforming consumer and the appeal of call deflection
The technology and business press are fond of mentioning “digital transformation” regarding businesses and organisations. Rarely considered is that people are — to a greater or lesser extent — digitally transforming too. Fifteen years ago, there were no smartphone apps, so the concept of interacting with a bank or business via a phone meant using it to talk to a human on the other end of the line.
Digital transformation on the personal level now means that consumers use apps, social media channels, text channels — like WhatsApp — email, and voice calls to interact. According to preference or circumstances, the customer’s optimal experience comes from choosing a communications method and maybe even switching mode during a conversational thread.
To better cope with the new “digitally-transformed consumer,” businesses are looking to omnichannel solutions that reflect their customers’ needs. A unique aspect of omnichannel is call deflection, whereby a voice call can be (with the caller’s full support) either transplanted mid-call to another channel, completed in another medium, or shifted to another channel before a single word is uttered!
To be clear about call deflection and define it better, let’s consider what it isn’t. Call deflection should not be, nor should it seek to be, a way to avoid voice calls. Every customer support professional knows that voice calls are the most expensive way to resolve customer queries. Nevertheless, as part of a company’s digital transformation, intelligently offering more suitable alternatives provides better customer experiences in many cases. (A by-product is indeed lowered costs, but that facet should be regarded as a happy circumstance, rather than an initial aim for call deflection.)
Some practical options
Call deflection moves the conversation from voice to another channel if the exchange would benefit from using a different channel. A prime example would be a customer needing to give credit card details. He or she could read out the long card number, expiry date, and so on to the operator on the phone. But that’s insecure (the customer might be in a crowded room), prone to mistakes (the operator not hearing the digits clearly), and subject to continuity (the line might cut if the customer’s car enters a tunnel or phone “dead spot”).
Better in these circumstances for the customer to use their smartphone’s keypad to enter numbers, or perhaps the organisation’s app to photograph the card and have the numbers read by software — quicker, more secure, less prone to error, and the conversation can be asynchronous.
Naturally, with the latest customer communication platforms like RingCentral Engage Digital, the customer can be passed from voice to automated system and then back to voice if required, seamlessly.
Intelligent voice deflection systems can present options to the customer according to their history of interactions by drawing down CRM data in real-time to show preferences.And although many people are happy using text chat or automated systems, they should still be given the option of a voice-based conversation.
Call deflection also offers better customer service when call centres are closed for the night, or at times of high demand. Rather than wait in hold queues for long periods, customers can be presented with digital options to achieve routine tasks: an account balance, an order update, or an invoice settlement. And even when human operators are available, smart software can interpret probably call intent and offer alternative, more appropriate channels to complete the transaction, like, for example, Chat Suggest for organisations that have adopted Apple Business Chat.
Motives and Methods
A comprehensive guide is available here for download (PDF) to help any organisation give better customer experiences by leveraging smart omnichannel communications systems and call deflection technology.
It encourages companies to clarify motives behind and methods to achieve call deflection options, plus gives details of the next steps to take.
Organisations move in step with their customers, users, and business partners. If those companies and people are progressing down a path to digital transformation, then to stay current, relevant, and competitive, the business’s customer care function must follow suit.