Coffee and customer using the phone - Photo credit: Twenty20.
Coffee and customer using the phone – Photo credit: Twenty20.

When you think about “digital transformation” in the past few years, it probably comes to mind as a business strategy and innovation process, right? In fact, people – in particular your customers – have been digitally transforming for years now. Everything today flows through a smartphone application as to where fifteen years ago customers had to go to branches or stores in-person to make sure they could talk to a customer representative or have limited account management over the phone.

But now customers are accustomed to quick and easy actions for their problem solving and digital transformation has meant that this can be done via messaging channels, social media, and apps. Optimally, the best experience is often the one with a choice for communicating with a company, your clients want simplicity and flexibility.

This new age of “digitally-transformed consumer” can present challenges for businesses who are still adapting to new strategies, and now is the time where it needs to be fluid and feasible to implement it while reflecting the customers’ needs. A unique solution for this does exist, and it’s called omnichannel. Omnichannel solutions have an ability to realise strategies such as call deflection, whereby a voice call can be (if initiated by the caller) either moved mid-call to a different channel, completed in another medium or shifted to another channel.

Woman wearing mask on phone to customer service.
Woman wearing a mask on phone to customer service. Photo credit: Twenty20

Defining call deflection

In order to understand call deflection, it would be best to clarify what it is not. Call deflection is not or should aim to be a strategy for avoiding voice calls. Every customer interaction is sacred, and customer support professionals know this to be true. Voice calls for example, are part of this despite their costly nature. Yet, as companies digitally transform, there are growing alternatives that intelligently offer a better customer experience.

The heart of practicality

A crucial advantage of call deflection is the ability to move the conversation from a voice channel to a different one if it would be beneficial to continue the conversation there. A prime precedent would be a customer requiring to provide credit card information. In this situation, customers would probably be providing certain details to verify their account over a phone call, which would not be recommended for security reasons. If they were able to securely transmit information by another channel to continue the conversation with interruption, this would be more practical.

More helpful in these cases would be for the client to utilise their smartphone’s keypad to enter numbers, or perhaps the organisation’s app to photograph the card and have the numbers read by software — quicker, more secure, less prone to error, and the conversation can be asynchronous.

Companies should also consider the latest customer communication platforms that can allow agents to transfer the customer from a voice channel to an automated system and then back to the voice channel if required.

The use of smart voice deflection systems gives options to the customer based on their history of interactions by utilising CRM data in real-time. Although many people are happy using text, chat, or automated systems, they should still be given the option of voice-based conversation.

By utilising call deflection, you can offer better customer service when contact centres are closed, especially during periods of high demand. Keeping customers out of the queue and presented with tangible options can achieve routine or simple tasks easily.

Even when human operators are free, intelligent software can understand call intent and offer options, more relevant channels to accomplish the transaction, like, for example, Chat Suggest for businesses that have embraced Apple Business Chat.

Man on phone: Photo Credit: Twenty20
Man with a phone – Photo Credit: Twenty20

Leveraging omnichannel systems

A thorough example is accessible here (PDF) to support any organisation in providing better customer experiences by leveraging intelligent omnichannel communications systems and call deflection technology.

It supports companies to simplify ideas and processes to deliver a call deflection strategy, plus presents details of the next steps to take.

Businesses move in level with their customers, users, and business partners. If those companies and people are advancing down a path to digital transformation, then to stay current, connected, and competitive, the company’s customer care function must follow suit.