How to understand the user experience of customer service channels

July 11, 2019 3:54 pm

How to understand the user experience of customer service channels



What’s the risk to your business if you don’t offer a customer service number? We explore the recent ruling that Amazon is not obliged to make a telephone number available to consumers before the conclusion of a contract, and how to build the best support experience you can.

How do customers want to engage?

OK, so you’re thinking of switching off that telephone number – are you sure? There’s an undisputed cost saving to the business if you can answer a customer query through a digital channel rather than the call centre.

We run research with end users to understand the triggers for contact. Understanding this trigger then allows us to explore the user journey and inform the strategy for customer contact. These triggers vary and the action they take following this trigger depends on:

  • Contact reason. The channel customers use will differ depending if it’s a complaint, order status update, or information gathering requirement. This is linked to how far down the sales funnel they are and how anonymous they wish to remain.
  • Emotion. We’ve all been told to count to 10 before reacting but the emotion that an issue sparks, whether that’s frustration, anger or joy, will dictate how they want to contact and they may wish to change this way of contacting as the emotion calms.
  • Sensitivity. The nature of the trigger means that the customer need can’t be satisfied unless the customer shares data. We’ve found that customers are nervous sharing order details in open channels such as social media.
  • Urgency. Customers need to see evidence of the channel being appropriate. Is live chat the best place to report a burst pipe when you’re ankle deep in water?

I started by venting on Twitter, but when I could see a real person dealing with my issue, I then wanted to change to email to provide more detailed information.

Data to understand the risk to the business

The employees closest to your customer and the systems that support those employees often hold the clues to how your customers actually engage, rather than how they say they want to contact you. We often go into the operations of the company to understand the needs of the end customer.

Ethnography sessions, where we go into the call centres and observe customer contact, provide rich data regarding:

  • Reasons for contact – this often gives us a categorised list with call volume that highlights opportunities for exploration
  • Language from real customers – which we can use elsewhere, for example in Conversational UX Design
  • Expectations of the service – so that we can service design a similar experience on a different channel

Understanding the best channel to meet the needs of your customer

These are some research methods we use and what we can find out for our clients:

Ethnography research within a call centre

  • What queries are being answered and how?
  • How to best transform these conversation into different channels?
  • Understand the risk to the business

Researching live chat and voice interaction

  • Tone of voice
  • Conversational UI design

Usability testing on website and app with contact pages

  • Navigation
  • Ease of use
  • Meet needs
  • Forward journey flow

Some learning from recent projects

  • Findability – hiding the contact information, or making the information hard to decipher, will lead to customers assuming that you are hiding something.
  • Communicate availability and different levels of support – consider the urgency and sensitivity of the contact and provide vehicles for all. Customers act as detectives to try and understand how quick you respond.
  • Fit in with the workflow – the channel has to fit in with the need plus the context. Am I dealing with a situation where my hands are busy, a voice interaction through Alexa would really help me out.
  • Personal – emulate the reason why the emotion has caused them to pick up the phone. What language are they using and will a well written FAQ suffice or do they need to understand that someone is available on live chat?