It is logical to believe that with improved technology, call handling times would be decreasing. However, a recent article by Leonard Klie on destinationCRM.com states that sales and customer service calls take 16% longer today than seven years ago.
While this might seem alarming to some call center managers, it seems that this increase in call length can actually be a good sign.
For sales calls, the benefit is obvious. Longer calls hopefully equal more meaningful calls which are more likely to convert into revenue.
But, for support and customer service calls, why have these call lengths been increasing?
Recently, the value of good customer service has been on the rise. More and more companies are realizing their customers want to speak to a real person, not a recording.
Companies like Discover and Chase are creating ad campaigns around the value of live representatives. This trend is a clear sign that customers are looking for improved service and companies that make them feel important.
The quicker you can get a customer on the phone with someone who can help them, the better. And longer calls don’t necessarily indicate that customers are having more problems. It may mean that they are addressing complicated problems with representatives instead of becoming frustrated trying to figure out answers from your website.
There was a big push to improve self-serve customer service recently, allowing customers to find their own answers online. Having this available can help cut down on simple issues, freeing up your agents for more complicated service or technical issues; however, not having a live option is a no-no.
An infographic from Zendesk states that 91% of survey respondents said they would use an online knowledge base if available. However, 40% of customers would still contact a call center if their question was not answered. The self-help option can reduce unnecessary calls, but many customers may feel frustrated if live support is not offered.
Also, Klie mentions that more businesses see customer service calls as an opportunity to make customers happy and then up-sell. So in that case, the longer time on the phone would pay off.
In Klie’s article analyst Steve Morrell says call length has always been a key metric for call centers since it’s easy to measure and tie to cost. Yet, he states that it’s one that “forward-looking organizations have been placing less and less emphasis on over the years. With the increase these days in concern about customer satisfaction […] it’s fallen away in importance.”
This emphasis on customer experience is a good sign for businesses and customers alike. In the digital age, your customers will appreciate, more than ever, the personalized service your team provides.