Why Call Deflection Is Now More Real Than Ever

Katie Duzan

Last week, I needed to fix a payment issue with my insurance company. I did what many of us do — I googled to find the best way to contact them. The top search result was a 1-800 number. Groan.

Like 58% of consumers¹, I wanted a different way — other than phone — to contact customer service. I wanted to fix my problem without waiting on hold or being transferred. I just wanted to message this company and move on with my life.

58% of consumers want another way to get support without calling.

But, I’m lazy and in a hurry. The phone number was the first search result. So, I tapped the hyperlinked number and called this insurance company. Meanwhile, my kids are screaming in the background, and between the “please put that down” (to my kids) and “please repeat that” (to the company), it was a stressful 12-minute phone call. Even so, I didn’t want to call back at another time, because I didn’t want to go through the whole thing all over again!

Digital channels offer relief for many consumers and brands

What if I could have just messaged my insurance company, in the same way I message my friends and family? Many brands are implementing messaging channels for a reason. It’s where customers choose to engage with them — for one brand, 50% of all customer interactions were via in-app messaging just a few months after enabling it — and therefore often see a 3x average higher NPS.

Promoting modern digital channels in a new way

But, a friction point — and the likely reason why 42% of consumers² don’t see brands offering these options regularly — is that these options aren’t always easy to find. Brands often promote their 1-800 in emails, on website homepages, etc. Messaging options are too often left as an after-thought, and customers miss out as a result.

Messaging options are too often left as an after-thought, and customers miss out as a result.

But, what if customers were presented the option to message the brand before making a phone call? What if any hyperlinked phone number surfaced the option to message instead?

Companies like Apple have recently signaled that they are heading in this direction. In fact, two weeks ago, Apple released iOS 13 in Business Chat, which adds their new Chat Suggest feature. If a consumer taps on a registered phone number from anywhere in iOS — maps, search, etc — then they will be offered the option to message the brand or call. If a customer uses an iOS device (like me and 45% of smartphone users in the U.S.) — and the brand enabled this capability — then customers would have an easy choice to message via Apple Messages for Business before calling.

So along with implementing new messaging options, you can remove friction from the experience and make the lives of your customers easier by actively promoting these new channels. The payoff? Your customers will be more satisfied and reward you with greater loyalty. And as messaging becomes used more often among your customer base, you’ll see greater call deflection, and in turn, care cost savings.

All of this is great news for brands, as customers are increasingly seeking alternative ways to receive support.

Traditional support channels have never been more unpopular

Across the board, traditional support channels are falling out of favor: consumer satisfaction is 40% for SMS, 42% for phone, 54% for physical mail, and 61% for email. However, live chat is living it up at 73% satisfaction.

Why? Today’s customers want to get their questions answered with ease, without jumping through added hoops like navigating support menus over the phone or being forwarded to different agents just so they can re-explain their issue. Additionally, today’s customers value time more than ever before. In fact, 66% of customers feel that valuing their time is the most important part of a good customer experience.

How to get started

If you’re currently a Khoros Care customer, you can reach out to your Account Executive or Customer Success Professional to learn more about Apple Messages for Business. If you’re not currently a Khoros Care customer, but would like to learn more about this support channel, watch our video here.

1, 2: Data comes from a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Khoros, July 2019.

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