Blog series introduction: Consumers still prefer phone-based customer service, so don’t let yours lag behind

When it comes to customer service, the phone is still the most preferred and impactful channel, handling more transactions than web, social, and mobile combined. However, many companies have yet to invest in conversational speech technology or a transformational IVR customer experience. Dena Skrbina will expand upon the five reasons businesses should adjust their inbound IVR and outbound notifications to take on a conversational tone in a five-part weekly blog series.

Currently, there is massive buzz surrounding the importance of growing digital customer service channels—and for good reason. Consumer adoption of web, social media and mobile customer service is definitely on the rise. Despite these trends, however, the phone remains the most preferred and impactful channel. But, don’t just take my word for it. Forrester’s “Top 15 Trends for Customer Service in 2014” report confirms that, across all demographics, voice is still the primary communication channel used, with 51% of consumers preferring the phone—more than all other channels combined! As long as the phone works, people are sticking with it. In fact, according to Fifth Quadrant Research’s “The Future of Customer Support: A Quantitative Look at Where the industry is heading”, 56% of consumers don’t expect their use of the phone to change over the next three to five years.

While consumers’ preference for the phone isn’t changing, the way they’re using it is. For some consumers, the phone is always the first choice. These individuals are pressed for time and patience and know they’ll get answers with this communication route.  Eighty-eight percent of issues are resolved on the first phone call, more than any other channel. Until other channels can match this, those calls will keep coming in. Nuance enterprise clients tell us that up to 75% of their customer service calls are now coming from a mobile phone or smart phone. And for other consumers, the phone is where they turn when other channels fail them. A Harvard Business Review study found that up to 57% of callers attempted self-service on another channel before reaching for the phone. The bottom line? Phone-based customer service isn’t going away anytime soon.

Given that the phone is still the channel of choice, it’s critical that your IVR delivers a consistently great customer experience while reducing contact center costs. Surprisingly, too many companies have failed to invest in their interactive voice response (IVR) experience in recent years, even as dramatic advances were made in conversational speech technology.

There are many reasons to make your inbound IVR and outbound notifications conversational, but based on my experience working with hundreds of leading companies, I’ve identified five that top the list. Check back for my upcoming blog posts where I will explore each of these top five reasons to help you understand the advantages of using conversational speech and how you can justify making the change. Stay tuned!

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Dena Skrbina

About Dena Skrbina

This was a contributed post by Dena Skrbina. To see more content like this, visit the Customer experience section of our blog.