How to Deflect Contacts Without Compromising the Customer Experience

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Contact deflection may not be a new buzz phrase but COVID has raised its popularity and necessity for most businesses. Not every customer question needs to be answered by a person. Answers can be provided with proactive guidance and imagine if the customer doesn’t even have to ask a question to be guided to the information they need. By guiding customers with the right information at the right time in the journey from product selection and transactions to post-sale support and password resets, you can increase customer satisfaction and sales while reducing contact volume to your contact centers.

That is the idea at the heart of contact deflection – empower your customers to effectively self-serve while decreasing the load on your agents. This is not a radical idea. In many ways, self-service used to be about saving money by accepting a worse experience. The whole philosophy of customer self-service was based on a spartan ideal – make do with less, pay less and settle for adequacy rather than true satisfaction. It’s time to rethink that mindset. Self-service can be the best experience a customer can get!

Businesses have been trying to migrate customers to low-cost channels for years. The model is dated but is still the go to for many businesses and technology providers. First the phone was ideal as we no longer needed to show up in person, then digital communication channels like email, chat and web self-service emerged as ways to migrate customers to low-cost channels. And, while these channels are effective, they are underutilized by customers – less than 1% of customers on average reach out and chat with a business. Newer technology like bots and messaging proport to solve the problem, but bots have a heavy cost to implement and maintain and often have a limited scope, which creates frustration. Messaging is just another digital channel that requires people to respond albeit with an SLA somewhere between a live chat and email. Guidance is a new approach that is not reliant on people and creates a positive customer experience.

Many leading companies have already included guidance in their contact deflection strategies:

• As the pandemic peaked and financial services customers everywhere started transacting fully online, People’s United Bank experienced an increase in contact center volume. The company needed a way to address pandemic-related questions with real-time guidance without adding agents. With proactive, targeted information, People’s United Bank has seen a noticeable drop in customer inquiries, resulting in a 58% reduction in daily chats and 37% reduction in daily emails.

Boscov’s previously had a chat-only solution but realized customers accessed chat for topics that could be more efficiently handled without human assistance. Boscov’s identified struggle points and mapped them to targeted engagements that guide customers through the purchase journey. After four months, they reduced chat volume by 50% and saw 62% more revenue through contextual guidance than chat.

The principle concept of digital guidance for deflection is that a business knows where customers struggle, so be proactive and get ahead of the struggle before any type of contact is necessary.

Deflecting contacts is about getting ahead of the question. Anticipating the need before customers have a question or get stuck in the journey is key to enabling your contact centers to focus on the high-value inquiries. Modern technologies like contextual guidance can help companies provide the kind of automated self-service that actually meets customer needs. Proactively providing relevant advice as it is needed can make many support requests unnecessary in the first place. This both eases the burden on the call center and makes it easier for people to get information, complete transactions, and manage their lives.

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