3 Customer Service Friction Points and How to Eliminate Them

Nearly 50 percent of customers say their frustration with customer support has grown over the past year. And 52 percent report feeling exhausted after recent support interactions.

This trend is worrying. A stressful customer support experience can easily drive customers away. For company leaders, it's crucial to find ways to reduce friction where possible. And that starts with understanding exactly where friction arises.

The following are the top three sources of frustration that I've observed:

1. Self-Service for Everything

Nine in 10 customer service leaders plan to invest in new self-service tools (like chatbots and interactive FAQs) over the next two years. That's for good reason: these tools are a crucial line of defense against sky-high call volume.>

Too much emphasis on self service, though, can easily create friction. Customers might turn to their internet provider's app to, say, check whether there's a local outage. But if their WiFi still isn't working hours after the estimated outage window, they'll likely want to talk to an agent. And the last thing they'll want is to slog through three self-service options before they can reach a human.

The solution: balance self-service tools with live visual support options.

With visual support software, customers can quickly connect with an agent using their smartphones or tablets. Then, they can use their device cameras to show the agent the problem at hand.

In many cases, video-enabled agents can resolve customers' problems on the first contact—a huge time-saver for everyone. It's a great way to offer customers the human touch they demand without sacrificing efficiency.

To make the most of visual support software, here's what I recommend:

  • Look for an app-free platform. The best software will enable browser-based video communication so your customers don't have to download yet another app for a problem they experience once every few years. Ideally, it's a one-and-done interaction with an agent.
  • Know when to route customers from self service to video. The type of issue is a key factor here: a product malfunction is probably better suited for visual support than, say, a billing problem. But customer sentiment matters too; there's a good chance frustrated customers will value empathetic, face-to-face communication. Consider investing in sentiment analysis software to identify when customers likely need visual support.

By striking the right balance between self-service and live support, leaders can create a more frictionless customer service experience.>

2. Repeating Basic Information

Picture a customer who's calling a support line about an issue with a router. After an automated prompt, he state his name, device serial number, and the problem at hand. When an agent finally picks up, he's asked to repeat that information. A few minutes later, he gets transferred to another department and has to repeat himself a third time.

For customers, experiences like these are incredibly frustrating. And agents can feel that frustration through the phone. If they can't resolve the problem in a few minutes, an agent might try to lower tensions by offering an in-person tech dispatch (and maybe a statement credit to boot). That's an unnecessary drain on your company's bottom line, not to mention an experience that can drive customers away.

The fix: equip agents with live video technology to put the right information directly in their view.

In our router scenario, for instance, an agent can ask the customer to simply show them the router over video. The agent can view critical information firsthand, like which lights are flashing and which cords are plugged in. With optical character recognition, the agent can even grab the device's serial number and paste it into the system or take a screenshot for future reference.

Alongside visual support tools, it's also worth investing in software that reduces the information customers need to provide on calls. For instance, automated identity verification software could text customers links to confirm their name, email, and mailing address before they talk to an agent.

3. Frustrating Self-Installs

Self-installs are a great way for companies to reduce the number of costly truck rolls. And for many customers, it's simply easier to set things up themselves instead of waiting around for a technician to visit.

Every self-install has hiccups, though, and not all customers are equipped to troubleshoot on their own. Without the right support on hand, a five-minute setup can quickly become a three-hour headache.

The solution: guided, video-based troubleshooting.

With a quick text or QR code scan, customers can video-call an agent for installation support, and app-free software ensures they get help without the hassle. Once the agent lays eyes on the problem, she can guide the customer through troubleshooting step by step. What's more, they can use augmented reality tools to circle points of interest or draw arrows to hard-to-find areas.

The bottom line? Visual support software can help companies make product installations a breeze.

It's clear that customers expect a low-friction support experience. Company leaders have a choice: give customers the experience they want or fall behind the competition.

With the right tech, telecoms can keep friction low for years to come and stay afloat in a sink-or-swim environment.

Rama Sreenivasan is co-founder and CEO of Blitzz, a live, remote video support and inspection platform. Before founding Blitzz in 2017, he spent several years working as a scientist and educator.