The use of digital channels for customer service is becoming more widespread and offers many advantages: time-saving, alignment with customer habits, and access to the history of interactions.
Telephone lines with 1-800 extension numbers have been the predominant channel for customer service. They remain widely used by default or when it is the only visible means of contacting the business.
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Once digital channels have been added to your mix, it is essential to promote them so that customers know about them and use them. Call deflection is an efficient way to do so: it offers customers an alternative digital channel, either before or during a call.
In this article, we are exploring the benefits of this approach for customer experience and how you can implement it in your company.
What is call deflection?
In a customer service context, the customer journey is composed of the different steps to obtain an answer to a question, or to have a problem solved. They can vary depending on the type of customer and their needs.
When customers need to reach out for support, they often are faced with obstacles to get help. Usually, after finding your Contact Us page, they can reach out to solve their problem with different options, the most common ones being email, phone, live-chat, social media and messaging.
Call deflection is a technique used to transfer an incoming customer call to an alternate channel such as messaging. It can be more cost-effective for the business and more convenient for the customer.
Call deflection should not be confused with other techniques aiming to avoid interactions with customers, such as avoidance of calls or call forwarding. With call deflection, the customer remains in control. He has the opportunity to switch to digital channels, but he can proceed with the call if he prefers.
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The benefits of deflecting calls
After understanding the concept of call deflection, you may be wondering how it improves customer experience. There are a number of benefits, both for customers and companies.
A better customer experience
When done with the right approach, call deflection is a great way to improve customer experience. The phone is the traditional customer service channel and remains essential in some situations. But one of its main drawbacks is waiting times: 73% of customers think it is the main frustration when calling customer service.
Thanks to call deflection, customers have an alternative to this waiting time: they can switch to a digital channel to send their inquiry, and be notified of the answer. Even if the reply is not instantaneous, the asynchronous character of digital means that they do not need to stay focused on the interaction, like it’s the case on the phone.
Call deflection also allows customers to run some specific actions more simply and safely. For example, it can be used for payment, removing the issues related to privacy or misunderstandings on the phone.
It can also be implemented to automate tasks such as sending documents (certificates, invoices…) to customers. Instead of making them wait on the phone, the company can decide to redirect them on a digital channel where the document will be sent instantly, at any time.
Finally, call deflection offers more choice to customers: instead of using the phone by default, they can use multiple digital channels such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. If they prefer to use the phone, it is also possible.
Easier management of interactions for companies
Call deflection also brings several benefits to companies. Phone calls are generally more expensive than digital channels: according to McKinsey, adopting digital channels can reduce costs by up to 40%. With a call deflection approach, the company is progressively reducing the number of phone calls in favor of digital channels.
Thanks to their asynchronous character, the activity becomes easier to manage: agents can handle multiple interactions simultaneously, which improves productivity and optimizes costs.
Cost reduction is an appealing aspect for companies, but it should not be the main objective of a call deflection strategy. When deploying call deflection, the priority should be the customer’s experience, like any initiative concerning their journey.
By increasing digital interactions, companies can also benefit from higher levels of customer satisfaction. The conversation history is kept, which helps solve interactions faster and offer a more personalized experience.
How does call deflection work?
Call deflection can be offered at every stage of the journey: before the call, while the customer is waiting or during the call. Its implementation requires companies to carefully look at their customer habits, to define where it best serves customers.
The graphic below show how call deflection can be implemented, regardless of the target channel:
Now that you know about call deflection and its objectives, we can explore how to implement it on multiple channels. The requirements to initiate call deflection are as follows:
- Match the phone number with their identity on the new channel
- Ability to direct the user to this alternative digital channel
It can be implemented on the following channels:
- Text/SMS is a channel often used for call deflection because it is versatile. SMS is reliable, fast, can integrate text and links, and does not require consuming mobile data.
- Facebook Messenger is one of the most widely used messaging channels for businesses. Features such as m.me links and customer matching support a call deflection strategy.
- Apple Business Chat is a service that allows a brand to communicate directly with its customers through the Apple Messages app. Links allowing to initiate a conversation and Chat Suggest are relevant for call deflection.
- WhatsApp Business Solution allows businesses to communicate with their customers through a verified account. For call deflection, WhatsApp allows companies to confirm that a customer is registered on this channel and to retrieve their ID.
Handling interactions on these channels and integrating them in a call deflection strategy requires the right technology. An omni-digital platform such as RingCentral Engage Digital centralizes the management of all digital channels, including those enabling a call deflection strategy. Engage Digital can be used as a central solution to deploy call deflection on digital channels and track results with a unified dashboard.
Call deflection is an essential strategy to support the transition of telephone interactions to digital channels. When implemented in a relevant way within the customer journey, this approach can improve the customer experience and streamline the support efforts.
Centralizing all digital channels into one place is an essential step, both to implement the deflection and to prepare for the growth of digital interactions. Contact us now to discover how we can help you set up your strategy.
Originally published Oct 12, 2020, updated Feb 11, 2022