The majority of surveyed South Africans prefer to communicate with a contact centre agent either via e-mail (68%) or by telephone (62%), rather than resolve a query through a chatbot (35%).
This is according to a survey carried out by business process outsourcing (BPO) solutions provider Merchants.
The research was conducted through a consumer survey, among a sample of 2 000 South Africans aged between 18 years and 50+years, who were interviewed.
It highlights that SA’s national lockdown and continued social distancing requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic are creating a further necessity for consumers to engage with contact centres more regularly, with an increase in the influx of calls at customer contact centres reported in the last few months.
When contacting a business or service provider, 68% of respondents said they prefer e-mail communication, 62% opt to speak to a person, 39% prefer WhatsApp, 36% select social media communication, and only 35% said they are more likely to communicate with a live chat service/chatbot.
In the last month, 63% of respondents said they had contacted their bank, 50% had contacted their mobile service provider and 41% had contacted their Internet service provider.
The contact agents in these organisations will have to adapt quickly to the ‘new normal’ and require excellent problem-solving skills, which combine soft skills and digital skills, advises Merchants.
While many people might start their query with a chatbot or digital platform, they most often end up seeking human interaction in order to resolve their query as quickly and effectively as possible, notes the survey.
Among the reasons customers often opt for other forms of communication is that pre-trained chatbots follow a structured conversation plan and can lose the flow fairly easily. With more access to customer history and data, smarter chatbots can ‘learn’ customer preferences.
....NOTE - content continues below this message
INVITATIONWe invite you and your colleagues to join us online as we take the highest rated industry conference online - join us and the elite in the industry at the NEXT GENERATION Contact Center & Customer Engagement Best Practices Conferences!
>>>>> FIND OUT MORE: HERE
While technology and chatbots have a huge role to play in customer experience in 2020 and beyond, their role will certainly not be to replace human agents altogether, notes Merchants.
"The role of tech and chatbots will be to enhance the overall interaction; human interaction augmented by the efficiency of bot and the intelligence of tech will often result in the best experience for the customer," says Mathew Conn, group CRO at Merchants.
"The first and possibly most important failure of chatbots comes from the organisation in question not identifying what customer interactions are right for enhancement with chatbots. This is why it is so important to have a business process outsourcing partner who understands the business and where chatbots can have a positive impact, rather than creating a negative customer experience."
Chatbots work well if customers start their conversation as a chat, before being transferred to a human agent if needed, notes Conn. The problem comes in where customers have started a conversation on another channel such as the phone or e-mail. Without consistency across the omni-channels, chatbots will force the customers to start over – and risk damaging a brand and customer experience, he points out.
"While technology is able to fulfil many roles and automate most end-to-end processes, the contact centre will always be an environment where the human element is critical – and I believe this is going to become even more important as we move into the ‘new normal’ and faceless interactions between businesses and their consumers continue to increase," says Conn.
In terms of their experiences with contact centres, one of the biggest frustrations cited by respondents was the need to contact a business multiple times to resolve a query.
When asked what the most important trait is in a contact centre agent, the top result was ‘problem-solving ability’.
The second most important trait, according to the survey, was personality, followed by knowledge of products and services.
"South African contact centre agents are known for their problem-solving ability, and I believe this is what puts the country at the forefront of becoming the next BPO destination of choice as businesses look to outsource into multiple regions," says Conn.
"While human elements like empathy, humour and patience remain important in the contact centre, problem-solving will always be the priority for the consumer."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Merchants, a Dimension Data Group company, is a provider of bespoke outsource contact centre solutions and has a 25 year track record of delivering customers contact centre solutions for a variety of blue chip organisations, globally.
Published: Friday, October 2, 2020
|1.)||Call Center Studio|
Call Center Studio
Call Center Studio is the world’s first call center built on Google and is one of the most secure and stable systems with some of the industry’s best reporting. It is one of the most full-featured enterprise grade systems (with the most calling features, one of the best call distribution, outbound dialing features and integrations—including IVR, AI Speech Recognition, blended inbound/outbound calling and includes Google’s new Dialogflow and Speech API. Call Center Studio is the absolute easiest to use (with a 10 minute setup), and is the price performance leader with lower equipment cost and less setup time.
PH: +1 512-872-7565
CLink for CRM and Call Center Integration
CLink by Comsys is a middleware that connects in real-time the CRM and the contact center applications. CLink enhances the CRM with interaction management capabilities from the contact center that allow agents to work more productively across all communication channels.
Comsys is a provider of οmnichannel customer engagement solutions that assist companies around the world in delivering unique customer experiences. For the last 15 years, Comsys designs and implements complex projects for clients from the outsourcing, financial services, telecommunications, and retail sectors. Comsys enjoys strategic partnerships with technology vendors like Cisco®, Aspect Software®, and Microsoft® for the delivery of innovative interaction management and contact center optimization solutions.
Today’s call centers need their agents to work more naturally, and respond better and faster. Here, we talk about the innovations Consilium has made with the latest desktop and mobile agent releases of the UniAgent™ CRM connector. From small enterprises to Fortune 500 companies and governments across 110 countries, UniAgent™ comes into action right at the moment of reckoning, making every contact center experience engaging and personalized, powered by simplified customer identification and anticipating customer needs.
UniAgent™ provides CRM integrations between all the Cisco contact center solutions (UCCX, PCCE, UCCE and HCS-CC) and over 20 CRMs, such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics 365...
PH: (+61) 406 501 368
IntraNext Systems develops agent efficiency tools and data security software solutions for medium-to-large contact centers. Our Event Intelligence® Platform solutions include SmartCTI™, iGuard®, and SmartSIP™. SmartSIP is based on our patented SIP layer technology and provides a DTMF masking solution for VoIP environments.
We know how important it is for a business to obtain data from its customers and to manage them effectively, so we help small to large companies by integrating their CRM with the Virtual Switchboard.
This type of integration will simplify the work of your team and improve the management performance of the contact list and its information.
PH: +34 952 667 511
NovelVox CTI Connector
NextGen Cisco Finesse, Genesys & Avaya Embedded CTI Connectors for Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, ServiceNow, Zendesk & more.
PH: (+1) 301 202 3672