Web Self-Service Surpasses Phone in Customer Service Channel Preference, Forrester Finds

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the corporate culture has not yet caught up. "There are little fiefdoms within companies and they want control over certain responsibilities. They don't want to share. Social is an example of this...it's often controlled by the marketing department, so call center agents have virtually no idea of what the customer has already done over the social channel," she says.

The report also calls for empowering agents with better content. Forrester's data suggests that most contact centers provide their customers with access to an FAQ database, and that customers' satisfaction rating with this resource is a solid 70 percent.; Only 44 percent of organizations, however, report having a similar agent-facing database or knowledge management tool.

"This means that agents fielding complex questions that make self-service more difficult cannot easily access the content they need to reliably answer customer questions, putting the quality of service at risk," according to the report. The future of phone-based support rests on better knowledge management tools. Phone interactions are declining, but not disappearing--Forrester predicts that customers will continue to rely on the phone for in-depth support, so organizations can't afford to neglect the channel.

Moving forward, companies will also have to think about standardized success metrics and universal tools for agents. Forrester recommends that contact centers adopt universal queues for omnichannel inquiries instead of sorting interactions by channel because the former makes it easier to offer seamless support, while the latter promotes a siloed environment. There is also a need for universal desktops and user interfaces for agents in order to simplify the process of moving between channels, according to Leggett. And, it's important for contact centers to work closely with the digital teams that handle other business processes, such as e-business, e-commerce, or other digital operations.

While some companies are succeeding at digitalizing their contact centers, Leggett says that many--if not most--are still lagging behind. "We are seeing some companies doing a good job and adopting best practices, but a lot of them still have a ways to go," she says.

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