Listening to hold music is most frustrating, as most consumers know. Contacting a company with a complaint has become a stressful and time-consuming task. You have to deal with complex phone menus, explain the issues to the representatives, wait while calls are diverted from one representative to other representatives and so on. In between, the connection may be disrupted and there starts the whole process again from the beginning. Typically, businesses use outsourced solutions to meet their customer service needs and customer calls are mostly handled by call centers. Now, a new model of customer service outsourcing is emerging, with customers outsourcing their own customer service issues to a third party, as a recent forbes.com article discusses.
So, what exactly is this new customer service model that has emerged to address customer pain points we are so familiar with? Now, mobile apps are available that can handle service issues on behalf of the customer. These apps help people to outsource their complaints and concerns to a third-party service that is specifically optimized for resolving customer service issues. This is a great option for customers because the third party company will take over the entire responsibility of contacting the offending company and get the matter resolved.
A February 2016 report from Marchex, an advertising analytics firm, showed that Americans waste around 900 hours on hold for customer service. A 2013 poll from TalkTo, a text-messaging app revealed that 53% of consumers spend 10 – 20 minutes on hold each week.
The increase in outsourced customer complaints is a consequence of the On-Demand Economy. Uber and Lyft ensure you a ride in an instant, while Amazon ships the products you want to your house; TaskRabbit runs your errands, and apps like Seamless and Grubhub help to get food delivered at your doorstep. As the On-Demand Economy impacts more aspects of our lives, customer service will have to follow suit. With the help of AI and machine learning, companies are already trying to make their contact centres efficient. However, customers still need to get in touch with the call center with their concerns. The new customer service paradigm is different because customers no longer need to contact the offending company, the third party agency will do it for them. Customers have to simply outsource their issues to a third party vendor and all they need to do is to ping the third party and they will contact the company on the customer’s behalf.
When outsourcing customer service, consumers will have to be aware of the following.
- Some third party agencies may ask to pose as you while others introduce themselves as your representatives.
- When a third party company poses as you, you will have to provide them with personal information.
- When the third-party company acts as your representative, you may have more of a time commitment to confirm your identity as well as that of your middleman in calls to the company.
Mobile Apps for Customer Service Outsourcing
- GetHuman: This is a great customer tool with a number of features that take the time and frustration out of customer support. It can work as a consumer’s assistant and help avoid the long wait on hold. Customers can hire a “problem solver” who will call a company’s customer service line on your behalf to resolve the issue. It can fight for your airline refund, or handle any issue on social media accounts. It is estimated that this app has already served more than 10,000.
- AirHelp: It is an app which plugs into your email inbox and automatically scans for all the flights you have taken in the last three years. It runs through a database to determine if there are any delayed or cancelled flights. It automatically identifies possible refunds you could be entitled for. If an eligible delay is found, then AirHelp will automatically contact the airline and ensure that you get the refund. AirHelp will keep a percentage of the refund money as a success fee.
- Service: Another popular travel app is “Service” that was launched in 2015. They offer two key products; one of these proactively alerts travellers about flights that have been delayed and helps to get any compensation automatically. The second product monitors your hotel bookings. If the prices of hotels drop at some point, then the app automatically secures the lower price for you.
What does this bode for call / contact centres? No doubt they will have to improve the way they operate. They can expect to see a larger volume of complaints and inquiries, which would require them to implement more sophisticated technology and processes. The third-party agencies they will have to deal with will bw more professional, efficient, and equipped with all the information they need to get the best outcome for the end customer. They may even be able to start legal action if their customers’ issues are not resolved appropriately and promptly.
How can businesses handle this new challenge? Implementing an AI solution to work side by side with human agents could be a practical alternative. With mundane repetitive tasks solved with machine learning on behalf of the customer service agent, the agent gets quality time for more sophisticated customer interactions such as those raised via third-party customer-compliant services. Businesses must formulate a strategy that can handle new trends such as mobile messaging and outsourced solutions for customer service. Serious consideration must be given to the impact of machine learning and how it can free up valuable time for customer service representatives. Simple tasks can be automated. Customer service is one of the strongest pillars for building up a business; it can make or break a company. It is important to make every customer contact as positive and productive as possible. Once businesses adjust to these changes either in-house or with good outsourced solutions, they can surely increase customer satisfaction, improve their brand image, and ultimately make customer service become a profit hub for their company.