In today’s digital age, you may think that the concept of a call center is terribly outdated.
Why bother having your customers talk to a real person at all? You can just swap your customer service agents for chatbots and use online systems to increase efficiency and cut costs, right?
And, of course, we don’t disagree – as technology changes, we need to change the way that we communicate with customers. Chatbots, online support systems, and email are great ways for customers to interact with your business – and in cases where customers have minor issues with your products or services, they offer a very fast, affordable, and effective method to resolve their issues.
But some things don’t change. And one of the things that hasn’t changed is that many people would still prefer to interact with a real person, rather than a chatbot, or an automated call answering solution. And the data reflects this.
A PwG survey showed that 80% of respondents would prefer to connect directly to a real, human customer service agent, rather than talk to any kind of automated chatbot or other automated call-responding service.
If you think about it, that data makes sense. Think about the last time you called your bank, insurance company, or another large institution. Did you enjoy the experience of navigating touch-tone menus and trying to get an answer from an automated system? Or would you have preferred to be connected directly to a human customer service agent, who could have resolved your question in just a few minutes?
The answer, of course, is obvious. But if you’re still not sold on how essential a great call center experience is for your customers – especially compared to the impersonal online chat format – we’ll outline a few more of the biggest reasons that live agents are better than bots. Join us, won’t you? And find out why, in the age of automation, the ability to speak with a human customer support agent is more important than ever.
Why Customers Want to Talk to a Real Person
Some customer service trends don’t change. Speaking to a real person, rather than an automated chatbot, will always be something that some customers want.
But why is this the case? What are the reasons behind the need to talk with a real person? Here are just a few of the major reasons that the human touch is so important in customer service.
Customer Service Agents Can Give Contextual Feedback
Chatbots are great for very straightforward questions, especially when paired with human agents who can answer queries using chatting software. But these automated systems fall short whenever a customer has a question that is not straightforward – or if they are unable to phrase it for proper interpretation.
The chatbot may simply not be able to parse the question or understand it at all – leading to frustration from the customer, who is wasting their time attempting to communicate with a machine that will never understand them.
This frustration and anger can quickly result in a lost sale or an unhappy customer, as they are likely to stop wasting their time, and shut off their computer and walk away. If a customer has a very specific question, or doesn’t quite know how to articulate their problem, they will always prefer the assistance of a customer service agent who can take the context of their problem into account.
Let’s use IT support as an example. Let’s say that a customer has purchased a desktop computer, and it’s not turning on. They open up a chatbot, and say “My computer is not turning on.” The chatbot recognizes this issue – no problem!
But then the chatbot begins to go over some basic troubleshooting steps. Is the power supply turned on? Does the BIOS come up when the computer turns on? Are the fans turning? The customer doesn’t know what any of this means! (And you might not, either!) And, in most cases, the chatbot or service agent won’t be able to clarify. They will be confused and frustrated, and won’t know what to do.
Let’s consider an alternative scenario, where the customer is connected directly to an IT support agent. The agent can listen to their problem – and even ask them to elaborate! Then, they will be able to walk them through step-by-step troubleshooting steps, even if the customer has little familiarity with how a computer works. Their issue is resolved in just a few minutes, and they’re happy!
That’s the power of contextual feedback. That’s what’s lacking from chatbots – and why a real customer service agent is so powerful. Customer service agents can truly understand customers, and help them resolve their issues efficiently.
Customer Service Agents are Quicker
Some chatbots can answer questions very quickly and efficiently – but only if your customers know how to communicate with them properly. But, more often than not, chatbot conversations are just very clumsy – and your customers will just be wasting their time by trying to communicate with them.
There’s something else that makes customer service agents quicker, too – your customers can speak to them, instead of typing. For a younger person, this may not seem important. You grew up with keyboards, and can type very quickly, right?
Well, statistically, the average WPM (Words Per Minute) that a person can type hovers around only around 38-40 WPM – and this assumes that the person in question is comfortable phrasing their question in text, and is a fairly competent writer.
Even professional typists – such as folks who may work as customer support agents for chatbots – usually can’t exceed 60-70 WPM for extended periods of time, though there are some outliers.
Well, guess what? The average person can speak from 125-150 WPM – meaning that, in most cases, the mere fact that a person is speaking instead of typing will allow them to get an answer to their question up to 3x more quickly!
Not only that, a live interaction allows customers and service agents to quickly ask each other basic questions – which may take a long time to answer through text. In reality, resolving a question through a live call usually in order of magnitude faster than trying to do so via text. Unlike chatbots, customer service agents can quickly react and respond to any customer situation – and answer their questions and concerns quickly and effectively.
Want a real life example? Consider this – you and a friend have concert tickets for a show tonight, and are looking to make plans for dinner, parking, and drinks after the show.
Would it be faster to text them to work out these plans, or just give them a call, and work it all out over the phone?
You guessed right! Intuitively, we understand that speaking to someone directly – and in real-time – will be a more effective way to resolve a complex issue!
Customer Service Agents Serve Certain Customer Types Better
Another common assumption made by business owners is thinking that all customers prefer online interactions over human ones. However, this is not the case – particularly for older folks. There are still many people – especially those over the age of 65 – who will always prefer in-person interactions, because they are not comfortable with online technology or chatbots.
While it’s true that many millennials and younger folks would be happy to have their questions answered in an online chatroom or by a chatbot, this is not the case for older people, who may rarely – if ever – use a computer. For these people, a real customer service line with actual customer service agents is essential. And this is important for your business – there are around 46 million individuals in the US who are over the age of 65, and this number will double by 2060. If you don’t provide them with the tools they need for customer support, you could be missing out on a huge (and growing) market segment.
And it’s not just older individuals who can get better service if they talk to a real person. Folks who are not native English speakers may not be able to type their questions effectively, or be comfortable asking questions and reading answers in English. Even if they have good reading skills, this may confuse them – because it’s harder to ask for clarification, or get a chatbot to use simpler and easier-to-understand phrasing.
More than 20% of the population of America (about 64 million people) speaks a language other than English at home. And, of course, there are plenty of people who speak English as a second language and can write and read incredibly well – but there are others, who immigrated recently or are older and rarely use their English, for whom this is very difficult.
As a rule, anyone who is uncomfortable using the written word and online technologies for support will be better-served if they talk to a real person – and providing that option helps make your company more competitive.
Customer Service Agents Provide Human Support
If your customer is having a bad service experience, they need more than just a chatbot that can answer their questions. They’re unhappy, they’re frustrated – and they need to have their issues addressed with empathy and support.
Chatbots are simply not able to provide emotional feedback for customers. By design, they feel a bit artificial – and even if a customer is chatting with a real person on the other side of the screen, the experience doesn’t feel as “real.”
On the other hand, a customer support representative can help soothe and calm down a customer who has a serious issue. Usually, all an angry customer wants is to feel understood, and like they are really speaking to someone who cares about making them happy, and resolving their issue.
The “soft skills” that customer service agents have mean that they are a much better choice for things like handling returns, or complaints about your products. By providing a great customer service experience – and calming down individuals who are angry and frustrated – they can aid you in retaining customers who may otherwise have stopped doing business with your company.
In turn, this helps you prevent high rates of customer “churn.” And, because folks tend to share stories about their customer service experiences through word-of-mouth – whether they had a good or bad experience – satisfying an angry customer helps you avoid negative publicity, reviews, and feedback.
Just because technology is changing doesn’t mean that the preferences of your customers are changing.
While technology like online support tickets, chatbots, email support, and other such online-only systems are powerful and useful, particularly for simple questions, and younger folks who prefer online interactions over personal phone calls, they’re not the right choice for every customer concern.
Complex questions that require troubleshooting and creative thinking can be handled much more easily by customer service representatives – and usually, customer service personnel are actually able to provide lower resolution times for your customers, compared to chatbots and other such online services.
Finally, a real customer support agent allows you to have a “last line of defense” so to speak. A customer who has tried online resources and can’t get the answers they need will be able to contact a real person, and get answers to their questions – no matter how complex they may be. This helps protect the reputation of your company, and keeps your customers satisfied.
For these reasons – and quite a few more – we don’t think that human customer service representatives are going anywhere soon. Interested in hiring customer service representatives, but not sure that you know where to start?
At AnswerFirst, we offer high-quality, 100% U.S. based customer service personnel, who can quickly be trained to provide stellar service, no matter what kind of product or service your company may sell. Our employees deliver the best answering services on the market – and can help you improve your customer satisfaction dramatically.
If you have any questions about pricing, what we do, or anything else, we’d love for you to contact us. We’re always excited to hear from new customers, and to discuss how AnswerFirst can help you improve your company. We have a number of flexible, 24/7 call answering service that can be custom-tailored to the size of your company, industry, and more.
Don’t miss out on the benefits of letting your customers talk to a real person – and don’t just rely on automated, online customer service tools like chatbots. Get started today, and see how much of a difference AnswerFirst can make for you.