Sunday, February 24, 2008

More Human Agents May Not Be The Answer To Better Customer Service

People complain about telephone customer service almost as frequently as they do about the weather. Since that message “Your call is important to us” is often the prelude to an unsatisfactory experience, you could understand why Netflix decided to go the human agent route entirely. However a study released by suggests that even callers may think they got it wrong. is the central portal for the Australia and Asia Pacific contact centre industries providing research, benchmarking studies, and up-to-date news and information.

As the study points out, Netflix isn’t the only one Many contact centre managers misunderstand customer response to speech recognition applications. The study found 37% of contact centre managers without a speech application believe all customers would prefer to talk to a live agent to using a speech recognition self-service application.
A previous study that surveyed end users found that when customers have the choice to use a speech system or talk to a live agent, 30% of callers prefer the speech channel over an agent, with less than half of people preferring to talk to a customer service representative. If faced with waiting on hold prior to speaking to a customer service representative, this same study found 85% of customers would prefer to use a self-service speech recognition option.

“The research actually indicates speech recognition is the preferred self-service channel, both over the web as well as over a live agent amongst 30% of respondents.” So for a sizeable fraction of callers, you’ll show them “Your call is important to us” by offering them what they want, an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) agent. If your system is functioning well, the others will probably enjoy their calling experience too.