Smart and Fast Fixes for Your Business, Part 3 — Save Money and Reduce Hold Time With Channel Pivot

To view the first post in the series, click here. To view the second post in the series, click here.

What’s the one thing small businesses are most concerned about? If you said money, you’re on the right track: over 45% of small businesses cite growing revenue as their top concern.

However, money is too simple an answer to accurately represent the struggles of small businesses. There are three primary factors that relate to how much money a company ultimately makes:

  • Operational efficiency (What is my business doing to save time and effort?)
  • Customer experience (What is my business doing to keep customers coming back?)
  • Cost-cutting (What is my business doing to reduce costs?)

When you relate these money concerns to business communications, small and medium businesses often  really struggle to find ways to convert standard business tools into mechanisms for reducing cost or driving more business. Take phone systems, for example – most businesses primarily rely on voice/calls and overlook the many ways that today’s communications tools can convert necessary evils like your phone system into tools that get results for you.

Why Relying on Voice/Calls Alone Isn’t Enough

It doesn’t matter whether you own a retail store or run a small customer support department—you’re probably using voice/calls. A recent Dimension Data report found that 65% of contact center interactions are voice-based. However, voice comes with a lot of hidden costs that relate to the above factors:

  • Operational efficiency. According to BenchmarkPortal, the average call center call duration is 5.97 minutes. In addition, a call center study at the University of Colorado-Boulder found that over 30% of calls were either to adjust account settings (ie passwords) or fulfill other administrative tasks.  While this study was strictly focused on technology-based contact centers, the point remains –  small businesses receive a lot of calls about pretty basic questions (ie “What are your store hours?”, etc) that doesn’t require a real person fielding those calls (from a customer experience and operations/cost perspective). Fielding the same common questions over and over can cost businesses time, effort ($$$), which is hard to swallow when we’ve learned that for many of these questions, customers/callers just want an easy way to get the info they need.
  • Customer experience. 64% of customers prefer using text messaging to voice, and it’s easy to see why. Customers are often frustrated by having to contact a company multiple times for the same reason (65%) or waiting on hold for a long time (62%)Some businesses have an IVR in place to manage calls, but only 7% of customers think the IVR delivers a better experience than speaking with a live person, according to a JD Power study.
  • Cost-cutting. Forrester research found that the average live agent call costs $6-20 per interaction. Most small businesses can’t afford the money to hire a receptionist to answer calls, let alone answer all these calls in person. And businesses that don’t have an IVR or voicemail set up can let important calls can fall through the cracks, potentially losing valuable customers.

It sounds made up to say that there is a telephony/communication solution that saves small businesses money, automates processes, improves customer experience… and still routes to the right person when a real person is necessary. But it’s not made up. The solution is called Channel Pivot.

How Channel Pivot Can Benefit Your Organization

So what exactly is Channel Pivot, and what can it do for your business? Simply put, it gives your callers the choice to automatically pivot out of a call, your IVR, hold or auto-attendant and right into self-service or live support via text message. Channel Pivot maintains the context of the conversation, addressing the frustrating experience of customers having to repeat themselves.

Research conducted by Harris Poll found that 64% of customers would rather text your business for customer service. In addition, the study found that over 40% would prefer to press star to text with an agent immediately rather than wait on hold.

Channel pivot also addresses the three main factors that contribute to a company’s bottom line in the following ways:

  • Operational efficiency.When callers pivot from voice to SMS, you notably increase the likelihood of self-service successfully getting customers what they need without a real person. In addition, if a customer still needs a live agent, your support team can manage multiple SMS conversations at once , instead of just a single phone conversation.
  • Customer experience. Some customers will prefer to use text, and some will prefer to use voice. Channel Pivot lets them choose the channel they want, and when they want it. For example, there are some situations where it makes sense to switching to text (loud background noise, sensitive information, etc) while others merit speaking with a live agent over the phone (complex problems, too long to type). By letting customers use channels they prefer or need in a certain situation, businesses with Channel Pivot can ensure that customers feel respected and are always having a good experience.
  • Cost savings. One of the great things about text messaging is that it costs significantly less than voice. While a supporting a customer over the phone costs an average of $13, a text chat interaction (where the agents responds from a web interface) is much cheaper with automation and the ability to manage multiple conversations at once.

But this is all theory, right? What does channel pivot look like in action?

Channel Pivot: A Case Study

One of our clients, a staffing agency, had been using a clunky IVR for several years and finally decided it was time to make a change. Associates and agents were frustrated by an IVR that was detached and difficult to navigate, and if that wasn’t enough, voice costs were going up 20% every year.

After conducting some research, they found that adding a text channel would help reduce call volume. They liked the immediacy and mobility that came from using text messaging as well. Using OneReach, they were able to switch customers from calling  to SMS.

Initially, they hoped to deflect 20% of calls to SMS. Unfortunately, they missed the mark…as over 40% of calls were deflected to SMS using channel pivot.

They were ecstatic. By deflecting nearly half of their calls, the staffing agency was able to get significantly more results with exactly the same resources.. In addition, customers were also much happier using texting, even sending along smiley faces, and agents were able to answer more pressing calls while many customers get what they needed through  SMS self-service.

Conclusion

Channel pivot can save you money, while improving customer experience and your staff’s experience (multiple chats at once, and dealing with happier customers). All of these improvements can be amplified through thoughtful SMS self-service experiences and are easy, fast and affordable for your business to try.

To learn more about adding text messaging to your business, download our whitepaper here.

Photo credit.

Published by

Elias Parker

Elias Parker is a Managing Partner at OneReach where he is focused on enabling companies to offer effective, meaningful customer support over text message. With over eight years of experience working with a user experience agency that pioneered the user experience (UX) space, Elias is skilled in ethnography, user experience research, workshop facilitation and crafting highly specialized product research, design and development teams. Elias’ work spans multiple industries and his client portfolio includes Fortune 500 companies such as FedEx, Boeing, Fidelity and Conde Nast to name a few. Elias has a Masters Degree in Ethno-Political Conflict Analysis & Management from Royal Roads University in British Columbia, Canada.

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