Has your company deployed a self-service app for customers — but your contact centre is still getting a constant stream of calls? When this happens, there's only one thing to do.
Our blog series on the Top 12 Customer Service Challenges has been getting under the skin of the big issues facing contact centres today. Last time we looked at how to save agents from getting swamped with low-value questions but now we're focusing on another thorny problem: Self-service apps that don't appear to be delivering.
Apps for everything?
The thirst for apps seems relentless. It's estimated that by 2022, app downloads will hit 258.2 billion — a 45% increase over the previous five years. Of course, apps are ideal for chatting, dating, fitness, travel and other uses, including customer self-service.
Let's imagine a company invests a small fortune in hiring a crack team of developers to craft that killer app. They've spotted the potential of self-service as the best way to handle purchases, balance requests, notifications, payments and other useful tasks. Just think of the money that could be saved — and the great review scores on app sites. But does it always work out well?
Often, a new app might feel like the silver bullet to solve virtually every customer service need. But sometimes self-service apps don't live up to expectations right away. While the concept may be ingenious, users could be getting tripped up by the interface, confused by the navigation or discover that parts of the app are simply not working or suffer from a lack of auto-fill features.
What happens next?
App problems can be a PR humiliation for the company we're imagining. They tried to look 'smart' and cutting edge — and it all backfired by raising the expectations of users and then dashing them.
The few days after the app is launched, there's a huge spike in calls as contact centre agents bear the brunt of people's frustrations. Weeks later, callers still complain about the same issues.
Customers either can't figure out how to use the app properly or they just want something different. They benchmark the company's self-service app against the best ones they use in other areas of their lives — and can't understand why the new app is "so stupid".
So, while the company's app development team starts to iron out the creases, what else can be done to remedy the situation?
Expert help on demand
Although the middle of a crisis isn't always the best time to mention this ... it's worth remembering that customer service cannot be covered off by one channel alone. Even the best apps are not silver bullets. The company still needs other engagement channels.
When launching an app, the contact channel they need most is Web Chat. That way, when customers hit problems with the app, a helpful prompt appears and they can summon an agent instantly.
A Web Chat agent can provide how-to advice, links and guides to answer any questions and increase the user's confidence in the app. Maybe some gentle tips that get them up and running? And if the task cannot be handled by the app, the agent can sort it for the customer rather than having them going around in circles, leaving bad reviews or abandoning the interaction altogether.
Better than calling up
In an age of instant gratification, Web Chat hits the spot perfectly. It's no wonder that 79% of customers say that they prefer a live chat session because of the immediacy it provides.
With Web Chat, the company can reduce interaction times for agents and phone call costs. Agents can handle multiple chats too which, in turn, increases productivity. Agents can also pick up on problems with the app — and feed these immediately to the development team, so the next app update hits the spot.
Organisations such as The National Trust, Sainsbury and VW Group are using Web Chat to enrich engagement with their website customers. Read more about leading Web Chat technology.
What's the outcome?
For the company we're picturing, Web Chat can help to safeguard customer service and loyalty while a major digital transformation takes place. Self-service apps will play a huge role in the future of customer service but they need plenty of human support around them, especially in the early days.
Got another contact centre challenge?
There are 12 in our series. Check out our blog page for what's been covered so far — and watch out for other hot topics coming along soon. In the meantime, get your copy of our Top 12 Customer Service Challenges. This guide looks at practical business issues that are holding back performance at the heart of contact centres — and how to solve them.
 The Guardian (January 2017)
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