Consumers are cutting companies out of the dialog until the last minute when making purchase decisions and seeking support. Nicola Millard, customer experience futurologist at BT Global Services, says that the operator is often the last stop when people are looking for information on products and services or even help on inquiries.
Customers also are demanding self-service support, which they find faster than calling. But this trend isn't proving to be the cost saver telcos were expecting.
Some 54% of consumers prefer self-service since it puts them in control and no one tries to sell them anything, according to a joint BT-Avaya study on how consumer attitudes to dealing with organizations are changing.
However, Dr Millard notes there is a danger in assuming that because of the increased interest in self-service that customers will no longer call. 'This is not true. In fact, what we are finding is that people who self serve are still calling, but they're calling about more complex and emotive things."
They are looking for much more detailed information than before. When they can't find what they are looking for, need advice or get frustrated, they will turn to the phone.
This behavioral change is having a huge impact on the call center and customer support staffing.
"Often the customer knows more than the call-center advisors, who struggle to answer complex questions because they have not been trained to handle the level of technical complexity that is now often required," she says.
The BT-Avaya study found that 89% of respondents would like to be transferred right away to an expert to handle their inquiries.