As it turns out, my utility company has great online self-service capabilities. It took me only about five minutes and three or four screens to cancel gas and electric service at the old address and start service at the new address. And I never had to pick up the phone.
Dealing with my cable company was a different matter. In order to transfer service, I had to call my cable company. I reached an automated system that prompted me for an account number to look up my information. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have my cable account number memorized. After a couple fits and starts, I finally made my way to a live customer service rep, who then asked for, you guessed it, my account number. Ugh.
Apparently I’m not the only one frustrated by poorly functioning automated phone systems. According to a recent survey by customer experience analytics firm ClickFox, 10 percent of customers that reach an automated phone system end up being transferred to a live rep because of a failed authentication attempt.
What’s more, these callers are 30 percent more likely than identified callers to be transferred to a second customer service representative, writes ClickFox CEO Marco Pacelli.
The whole point of automated phone systems is to improve customer satisfaction and reduce the costs associated with staffing live customer service reps. When callers have an experience like I did with my cable company, both goals go unmet.
Pacelli has some advice for companies to improve their automated phone systems. Writes Pacelli:
1. Use a dialed-from number when possible. By identifying customers as soon as they call in with the phone number on file, organizations can immediately recognize the customer and quickly pull up account or service information, with little to no effort on the customer’s part.
2. Keep it simple. Organizations should ask for personal identifiers that are easy to recall (such as a phone number or date of birth) rather than such difficult proprietary information as PIN and account numbers, which aren’t always readily accessible.
3. Make it easy for customers to retrieve or reset information. This is particularly important in the Web channel, where forgotten passwords account for a significant portion of failures and subsequent calls to representatives. Customers who are offered the option of answering a security question rather than providing an account number are more than 30 percent more likely to be successful.
Read Pacelli’s full post at Bloomberg BusinessWeek and for more on understanding the customer experience lifecycle, check out these video interviews. The first is Pacelli at this year’s Strata conference, where he spoke to Wikibon’s Dave Vellante and SiliconANGLE’s John Furrier about the role of analytics in customer service (below). In the second video, consultant Rob Strickland provides advice for better understanding and responding to your customers.