Author: Jesper Sjogren, Director, Strategy and Marketing
Interactive care, a form of digital care that includes online and video chat, self-help tools and online FAQs, is the most preferred type of customer service and support after traditional care provided via phone, email and in person. As of the beginning of 2013, Forrester has seen a 24% rise in chat usage and a 12% rise in web self-service usage over the three preceding years. Fanning the flames, 55% of consumers say that they would prefer interactive care—even over traditional care—if they knew their issue would be resolved.
For mobile, broadband and media service providers to get the most from interactive care channels, they must think strategically about how they operationalize each of them. Self-help tools provide a different type of experience than online chat, for example. Each customer’s expectations will also vary based on the context of their issue and their comfort and confidence in the channel selected.
Two Types of Self-Help
Self-service is valuable to customers because it’s available anytime and is sought out for its convenience. Self-service can be a knowledge-based interaction or a transactional experience.
- Knowledge-based interactions: Think of knowledge-based interactions as online frequently asked questions (FAQs). They are a collection of answers for common questions that can easily be searched for and managed via a structured database. FAQs serve as a first-level of customer support that can deflect calls to the contact center by providing information in an automated fashion.However, as the questions become more complex and different customers require different answers, FAQs become less effective. It is also important to understand that the nature of FAQs—to serve a wide swath of customer inquiries—limits personalization. FAQs also require continuous maintenance to ensure they remain up to date and accurate.
- Transactional experiences: Transactional experiences have been estimated to answer up to 80% of a customer’s questions, including common questions such as balance amount, bill due, data plan usage, minutes remaining on a voice plan. The interaction is transactional because the customer can update the details of their online account and make changes to the services or products in use.This type of straight forward customer care is most efficiently met through self-serve options accessed on-demand by the customer. However, customers may either not be aware of alternate channels available to solve transactional issues or they may be confused about the process. Giving a voice agent the tools and processes to educate customers about self-serve options can really move the needle on digital care adoption.
Online Chat is In Demand
As customers have become comfortable on the web, online chat has afforded them with a convenient way to augment their online experience with relevant and useful information without requiring them to leave the experience that’s in play. Online chat serves as a way to create a private, real-time, two-way interaction without the need to pick up the phone.
Online chat should serve as a connector to self-help tools. For example, an agent can send the customer to a specific FAQ, or assist them within a transactional experience. Integrating interactive care tools provides a means for the service providers to monitor cross-channel activity and usage patterns, discovering which combination delivers the most effective resolution to a customer’s inquiry or issue. One advantage of web chat is that agents can handle more than one interaction at once, bringing up agent productivity comparison to voice while providing a convenient channel for customers.
Careful thought must be given to the degree of digitization desired. If the customer care chat program results in a variety of chat lengths, the problem can be in the solution. Examples of long chat drivers are TV, Internet and Email resolution, with each session averaging 30 minutes with the agent driving more than 50% of the customer interaction. This is mainly due to agents following “call flow” as compared to guiding customers through the self-service support site.
Approximately 2/3 of self-service cases have a documented resolution. However, when the customer can’t find the right information or doesn’t understand the process, they escalate to interactive chat. Ensuring that both traditional and interactive channels are well coordinated and that the customer experience comes first can go a long way toward improving issue resolution via interactive care.
Linking Interactive Care to Business Value
Interactive care can be used to facilitate sales, as well as to deflect service calls to the contact center. As such it can contribute to both top- and bottom-line improvements. To enable the determination of ROI, it’s important to encourage customers to login. This way their behavior can be tracked across both knowledge-based interactions and transactional experiences. But, it also enables the agent to access the customer’s details and history during an online chat, expediting and improving the outcome of that experience.
By also tracking the customer’s behavior after the interactive care experience, service providers can gain insights that will allow them to improve its overall effectiveness. This includes the rate of issue resolution, ease and convenience, and level of responsiveness—three top priorities that customers want from their interactive care experiences.