When the journey gets tough, humans want humans…

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Capita Customer Management 6th June 2017 3 minute read

When the journey gets tough, humans want humans…

Even with all our advances in self-serve, AI and chatbots, customers still like talking to agents. If we don’t make the customer journey easier, why would they give up the habit, asks Simon Hunt, Director of Products and Solutions for Capita Customer Management.

There’s been a major push recently to deliver more channels to the customer in order to give them more choice. Which is great. For example customers are happy to self-serve, and it gives them better, easier and faster access to information than they have ever had.

However, though self-serve has enormous potential, it only fulfils that potential when it’s done right. Organisations can’t just make these things available as a channel and expect customers to figure it out and navigate their way around without ever talking to us again.

Customers want to make their point

There’s still a clear desire for customers to ‘say what they want to say’, and then hope someone will interpret that and take the appropriate action without the customer having to handle the action as well the intent.

Yes Voice is eroding, but with variations across industries and clients, more than 50% of contacts are still handled by voice, and the next biggest channel is email.

So it’s customers still want to speak to agents.

It gets interesting when you look at why they want to do that. How many people speak to an agent because they definitely want to deal with a human being, and how many speak to an agent because they’ve just become so frustrated they feel it’s the only way they can get the answers they want?

Often the desire to speak to a person is because the customer knows that an agent will help them navigate the processes better than they can. It’s almost like having a personal assistant. Why would they feel the need for that? Because sometimes the customer journey has been made too complex for the consumer to work out what they need to do on their own.

Too many channels, not enough thought?

Some of that is just laziness in parts of the industry – not us, I hasten to add! But it’s possible to look around and see where lots of channels have been brought together with no real thought about their design. Thinking about it in terms of customer journey mapping is all well and good, but at Capita we’re moving beyond that to the next stage. We don’t just want to reflect the customer journey, we want to influence and enhance it.

When we are designing these customer journeys we think about the attributes that customers look for; the attributes that will deliver an experience they actually want.

If we would like them to use webchat or SMS or self-serve or whatever, we don’t only think about the transaction itself, but how that channel makes the customer feel? Does it feel easy, secure, helpful; does it give them reassurance at every stage?

Ultimately a great customer journey is about design. Coherent, thought out, purposeful design. It cannot be an accident. We’ve got all these fabulous tools now – and at a cost we can afford – so lets arrange them in the best possible way rather than throwing a lot of channels out there and hoping some of them stick.

And it isn’t hard. If you just ask customers and agents how they would like this stuff to be arranged so they can use it, they’ll tell you. It just needs to be logical, easy, helpful and interesting. That’ll do it.

For the full version of Simon’s article – and more features on what customers actually think of webchat, AI, chatbots and automation – read the June 2017 edition of Intelligence on our Intelligence report hub.

Simon will be presenting at the CCA Summer Convention at RBS Bishopsgate on 15th June on the topic 'Do Customers Still Want to Talk to People?' - see here for more info. Can't attend on the 15th? Hear Simon present again on 23rd June. Click here to register for our webinar.

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