Why it is time to take a fresh look at call deflection in 2020

In a world where consumers use digital messaging to communicate with their friends and family, a voice-first approach to customer service seems outdated.

Written by Sandra SchroeterFebruary 5th 2020

While the phone still tops the list of preferred channels for customer service, preferences are shifting towards live chat and messaging. This shift is strongly influenced by the way consumers communicate in their personal lives. Limited service hours, long wait times and the frequent struggle with interactive voice response (IVR) systems also play a part.

Voice interactions not only frequently disappoint today’s consumers, they are also very expensive: in 2017, companies spent over $1 trillion on handling customer service calls.

In addition to the actual cost to serve, companies need to factor in the price of delivering a bad customer experience (CX). With 89% of companies now competing primarily on CX, meeting customer expectations will have to be high on every company’s agenda.

Now is the time to surf the messaging wave to give consumers the experience they expect while reducing cost to serve. Now is the time to take a fresh look at call deflection.

What is call deflection

Call deflection is the process of steering inbound customer service calls to alternative channels by nudging the customer to switch from the voice call to messaging channels such as SMS, WhatsApp, RCS, and Apple Business Chat.

These channels are more cost-efficient than telephony and provide a convenient, interactive and personalized experience to consumers. When responding to messages, agents can respond to multiple customers simultaneously as opposed to taking calls sequentially.

These channels also allow companies to benefit from automation including AI chatbots to scale their customer service operations and reduce costs.

Proactive and reactive call deflection

Call deflection can be realized in two ways: proactive and reactive.

Pre-empting and preparing for customer service scenarios in line with the nature of your business is the first step towards proactive call deflection. For instance, a telecom or utilities company could see high call volumes towards the end of their billing cycle, whereas a retail company could see peaks during the holiday season. Proactively communicating issues or delays to customers reduces the likelihood of disgruntled customers calling the contact center.

Flight delays or cancellations are another use case for proactive call deflection. Offering to check schedules, change flights, or book a transit hotel via messaging self-service mitigates the issue for customers and reduces the number of inbound calls to the contact center and customers waiting to speak to the airline’s service desk.

While proactive call deflection prevents calls from happening, reactive call deflection routes calls to messaging channels when customers do call. Your IVR can make this option available to all customers calling from a mobile phone, for wait times above a certain threshold or for certain intents that benefit from automation.

This type of call deflection reduces the number of customers waiting on hold and frees up your agents’ time to help customers who opt to continue to wait to speak to an agent. Customers that choose to switch to messaging channels can do so at their convenience and self-serve through AI chatbots or automated customer journeys whenever possible. With smart interaction design, customers can respond by tapping more and typing less. In cases where a human agent is required to help with a query, the agent can have multiple conversations in parallel depending on the complexity of the service. This solution contributes to increased agent productivity, availability and speed of service as well as customer satisfaction.

Deliver a better customer service experience with call deflection

It is worth taking a fresh look at call deflection. Not only because it significantly reduces cost, but it also enables consumers to communicate with companies in the most convenient way. With the latest two-way messaging channels and intelligent automation technology, call deflection has evolved beyond pure call avoidance and truly creates win-win situations for a business and its customers.

Additional content you might find interesting