5 Ways to Reduce Customer Calls By Improving Your User Experience


Why do customers contact customer service when the answers they need are at their fingertips?

As an organization, you want your customers’ experience to be as seamless, linear and easy-to-navigate as possible. Customers calling or emailing upset because their experience has been anything but easy, is a sign that you’re failing at that goal. Users also want easy, convenient and fast interactions, and having to call or email stalls them on their path through your product or service, and throws a snag in their desire for independence.

Today’s users interact with organizations across a wide variety of digital platforms and devices. As the number of these digital touch points increase, the number of channels they occur across also increases, often causing breaking points in the customer journey. When a breakpoint occurs this forces a user to reach out for support or assistance.

There are a few key reasons users reach out to customer service.

  1. Unexpected outcomes. When an interaction is performed and the outcome doesn’t align with what the user anticipates or needs.
  2. Roadblocks. When an unexpected task or error prevents a user from performing an action. This can often result in them abandoning the action, or turning to another channel or competitor.
  3. Missing or confusing information. When content presented is unclear and a user is forced to seek confirmation or clarification.
  4. Lack of self-service options. When a user is unable to perform actions on their own without the intervention of a one-to-one interaction.
  5. Perception that something will be complicated or time consuming. When a task is presented as overly onerous, users often choose to reach out for support rather than attempting to work through it on their own.

Contacting customer service reflects a failure in the user experience. It is up to companies to improve the user experience of their product or service, so that holes in the user journey don’t occur.

Here are 5 ways to reduce customer calls and emails by improving your user experience.

1. Understand where your customer questions are coming from

Gather the top reasons why customers call or email your customer service or help desk by interviewing or surveying both customers and your internal employees who interface with customers. Use open-ended questions. Don’t expect to know why; allow them to come forward with pain points. If access to user feedback is limited, check analytics or use a heat mapping tool to gather insights to actions users are taking (or not taking) on your current digital properties.

Outline your customer’s journey (digital and non-digital) to better gain a holistic understanding of your user as they move down your product or service funnel, including moving between different channels. Doing this can help you identify any pain points in current processes.

2. Make your navigation and content informative and clear

Once you understand your users’ questions, make a plan to beef up your content in those areas. Your content should be extensive enough that it answers questions, but clear and concise enough that it is understandable and actionable. Then adjust your navigation to ensure your content is grouped in a way that is logical for the user, as well as putting the most important content front and center.

There are many exercises that you can do with your users during interviews or surveys to help identify the most user-friendly and logical ways to structure your navigation. We use Optimal Workshop which offers various research tools like Card Sorting or Tree Testing to help you better understand your users and how they instinctively move through information.

3. Offer self-service options

Give users the tools to solve their own services issues. There are various types of self services options:

  1. Commonly or Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Almost all websites or apps will have a page or section for this. You’ll want to make sure yours are easily searchable or filterable, and that the user doesn’t need to scroll forever to find the answer to their specific question. More in-depth FAQ sections will also prompt the user to rate the relevance of the answer they’re viewing. Finally, if your mobile application has an FAQ, it should live within the application and be easily accessible.
  2. Product training or tutorials. If you are finding there is a high barrier to using your product, you can implement various learning features that can increase the likelihood your full suite of functionality will be utilized. Something as simple as presenting tooltips as a user interacts with a specific workflow can be really helpful to first time users. Then you can plan to go as in-depth as a series of video tutorials like Asana’s Quick Start Guide or even Dyson’s Demo Store (though you probably don’t need to go that far).
  3. Automated problem solving or service requests. You may have been on a site, spinning your wheels on a particular page for a while, when an automated chat box pops up asking if you need assistance. Or you abandon a shopping cart, maybe because the checkout flow wasn’t optimal, and later get an email reaching out about that abandoned cart. By putting mechanisms in place to automatically identify breaking points in a users journey and offer assistance at those points, the user will not only feel empowered to continue their journey, but will decrease their need to reach out directly.

4. Provide other channels for users to connect through

Instinctually, people will choose the first option they are presented with, so if your phone number is front and centre, then a phone call is the first step users will take when they reach a blocker. It might sound overly simple, but don’t put your phone number in your navigation if you don’t want users to call. Maybe don’t even give it as an option!

Reducing calls doesn’t mean eliminating customer service altogether. Many organizations provide users with alternative ways to connect when they need support, such as email, live chat, SMS text or even social media. If you do offer a variety of platforms that users can reach out to, you’ll also want to make sure that those systems speak to each other. Nothing is more frustrating for a user than reaching out via email, then later by phone, and the representative having no record of your previous interaction.

5. Set the expectation for customer service interactions

If a user reaches out by email and doesn’t receive a response, they are more likely to call, and be more frustrated when they do. An email confirmation, or some post-form submission messaging that they should receive a response within X hours or Y days can go a long way in assuaging the user’s concerns. If you have live chat through your site or application, but it’s not 24-hour support, be sure to clearly list your hours, and timezone, directly in the chat, or make it unavailable to users outside of those hours. Even during calls, clearly outlining the call process, expected wait times, and next steps — and even transferring future interactions from call to email — can decrease repeat calls or increasing user frustrations.

Both customers and organizations want to minimize the frequency of customer service interactions. It is often a last resort for users, which means that they might be frustrated or even irate by the time that they reach a customer service expert. Returning the autonomy to the user through the five steps we’ve outlined above will in turn increase satisfaction and retention, decreasing churn and, ultimately, increasing sales.

Designing with a deep understanding of the user and their journey, optimizing for their touch points with your product or service, and creating a holistic experience might not be something that your users notice when it’s working seamlessly — but they (and your customer service department) definitely notice when it’s not.

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