While consumers are able to contact companies through digital channels, some still like to make a traditional phone call every once in a while and talk to a human representative. The call centers set up to handle their questions or reservations, however, are evolving.
With airlines, for example, 15 percent of airline bookings are made through call centers. Even so, call centers are making use of new technologies such as visual interactive voice and interactive voice systems. Here are some of the latest trends from the PYMNTS Call Center Commerce Tracker report.
Close to all — or 88 percent — of callers who reach an interactive voice response still end up speaking to an agent. But when customers do reach an agent, they do feel that the representatives are more capable. Agent knowledge, for example, has risen 4 percent from 2017. Additionally, 20 percent of customers connect with live agents through e-mail and 12 percent of customers connect with them through online chat.
The anticipated CAGR of the interactive voice response system market through 2021 is 12.63 percent. Enacomm Inc., for example, was selected to host a customer self-service solution for PayForward, a social finance platform that allows members to turn corporate rebates into funding for community and personal causes. Specifically mentioned in PayForward’s plan is utilization of Enacomm’s Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology to improve customer relations and decrease service costs.
Fraudulent call center activity reports increased by 58 percent between 2016 and 2017. One in 491 retail contact center calls have shown to be fraudulent, according to a report by anti-fraud and call center authentication solution provider Pindrop – and that report was compiled in 2016, before masses of consumer data were hacked and put up for sale on the dark web.
More than half — or 55 percent — of surveyed consumers say they’re likely to use visual interactive voice response if given the option. One new and interesting offering to which retailers are moving is Visual IVR. It’s an interactive support platform that guides customers through a web-based support experience that they can access on their mobile phone. Tobias Hartmann, president of Radial, has said there is a higher solution rate with offerings such as these because customers can be guided through and helped while they are doing other things.
About a third — or 31 percent — of surveyed contact center professionals are somewhat or very unsatisfied with their current authentication methods. Technology Credit Union, for example, uses a combination of automated fraud solutions and human verification to authenticate clients. But Technology Credit Union is working to develop authentication solutions using new technologies – including automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence – to build new authentication techniques and technologies to keep bad actors at bay in the future.
And even in the digital age, some customers want to pick up the phone. In explaining why half of airline bookings are made through phone, Jean-Christophe Lacour, head of products and offers for travel solutions company Amadeus, said an airline client wants to be both digital and mobile first. But “even though they have these views, they still consider call centers a very important channel to service their customers,” Lacour said.