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Why Digital Channel Frustration Leads to Frustrated Calls Into the Call Center


The Team at CallMiner

December 11, 2018

Customer frustrated on the phone
Customer frustrated on the phone

In our recent survey and report, The CallMiner Index which identifies  in the UK and US the sectors that have the highest churn rates and reveals the reasons why consumers switch suppliers. One of the key observations from the reports are about consumers’ channel preferences. Our surveys discovered that consumers will use up to nine channels to contact a supplier to try and get the result they want. And as web chat, social and website are on the rise for primary contact channel, over 40% of respondents in the US and UK prefer the telephone as their primary channel.

The two dominant channels are telephone and website/chat. None of the other channels open to customers, such as app, text, social etc. were the number one preferred channel for any contact reasons. So, while these channels may have seen growth in usage in recent years, they don’t offer the real-time personal engagement consumers want when there are more complex problems to solve. As a result, they may drive more frustration with customers than success.

From US survey results in The CallMiner Index

Customers pick up the phone when they have problems to solve

Customer channel preferences vary by type of interaction such as make a payment, resolve technical issue or cancel service.  The report shows when consumers prefer to use self-service channels like web and mobile app to make a purchase or payment, but when the issue is need the assistance of a live agent. Most importantly, the survey uncovered that frustration with self-service channels leads to frustrated calls to the call center. The telephone is still preferred for more complex problems or issues. However, The CallMiner Index results show that almost half of people (43%) want organizations to provide a self-service facility to create service requests so that they can avoid a call-center or help desk.

Telephone preferred channel – over 40% preferred topic

  • Needing information about the product/service
  • Needing to resolve a technical problem with product/service
  • To resolve issues with a bill
  • To agree to a payment plan
  • To cancel the service

In fact, The CallMiner Index shows that agents have a tough job because customers who call in to resolve problems arrive emotionally charged. In fact, two fifths arrive annoyed, one in six arrive angry and one in seven arrive ready for an argument. The report also showed that some call centers are good at taking the heat out of the situation and send 42% of customers away satisfied. But the second highest number, 30%, leave frustrated.

Aimee Lucas, Vice President and Customer Experience Transformist, at Temkin Group, said: Our own research shows that call center interactions that were more emotionally negative led to longer calls, more frequent transfers, and lower likelihood of the customer recommending the company. It’s imperative that companies use the available tools to their advantage to identify reasons leading to negative customer experiences and churn and coach their call center staff on the behaviors that create more positive interactions with customers.”

From US survey results in The CallMiner Index

How to make a bad situation better… not worse

The range of contact channels used means it will be important for organizations to understand which channels consumers use for which reason and then optimize services to meet these expectations. Without this understanding, self-service frustration and a negative customer experience will lead to increased customer churn.

From US survey results in The CallMiner Index

Listening is the key to customer success

The call center plays a pivotal role in the battle for loyalty. In fact, it’s clear that customers don’t really want to say goodbye. In fact, 78% of customers said they would be very likely to remain loyal if they had a good call center experience. This compares favorably to the 55% of customers who said they would be very likely to switch if they had a bad call center experience.

So, what makes the difference? The short answer is listening. But call centers are only getting that right half of the time. The number one thing consumers want before they call a call centers is to be listened to. Almost half (46%) say that. But only 23% say they felt they had been listened to after a call. . The Index report highlights that listening needs to be backed up by good empathy skills. Because almost two thirds of people arrive with a problem to be solved, they also arrive with a range of negative emotions that make handling the call even more challenging. This is a key coaching opportunity for your managers and agents

From UK survey results in The CallMiner Index

The top advice consumers provide on how to keep them loyal accentuates their desire to feel valued. However, the strength of feeling about what is the right thing to do is indicated by the fact that 43% more people on average provide this advice than those that switched for the same reason. Amy Brann, a leading neuroscience expert at Synaptic Potential, explains: “Being unfairly treated triggers a response in similar networks of the brain that controls physical pain. The reaction can genuinely hurt! That’s why people will go to great lengths to right wrongs. In the case of suppliers this can include burning lots of time in having a complaint handled, defecting to another company, bad mouthing the supplier online and offline and in more extreme cases, pursuing legal avenues.”

If you want to see which sectors have the highest churn rates, and all the other results from The CallMiner Index, both US and UK you can download the reports here:

Contact Center Operations Customer Experience Voice of the Customer North America EMEA APAC