Click-to-call: Do You Give Your Customers Time & Continuity?

Time is our most valuable commodity. The freelance economy only highlights the trend by enabling people of all skill-sets to monetize their time through ride and resource sharing, part-time gigs on the Internet, and other piecemeal work that exchanges time for money.

In this environment, it is no wonder that customers value their time. Long customer service wait times have always annoyed customers, but now this lost time more easily translates into wasted income and lost opportunity. Customers know this, and they prioritize expedient customer care.

One way that customers are demanding a more expedient customer journey is through self-service offerings. Forrester pegs this as one of the top trends in customer service this year.

“In 2015, we found that web and mobile self-service interactions exceeded interactions over live-assist channels, which are increasingly used by customers as escalation paths to answer harder questions whose answers they can’t find online,” Forrester’s Kate Leggett wrote earlier this year.

The move toward self-service includes virtual agents and intelligent use of customer communities, as well as a better knowledge-management strategy so customers can quickly get the information they need without having to lose time visiting a physical store or calling a customer service agent, noted Leggett.

Supporting Self-Service with Click-to-Call

Improving self-service also means better live-assist channels for customers when they have hard questions. Self-service isn’t a call for the elimination of live support channels, it is a push for greater efficiency and customer control. Customers still need help when they venture beyond the basics, whether a detailed technical question or verification of something they have uncovered through self-service channels. Making this escalation path easy is part of good self-service.

Businesses can make escalation to a live agent significantly easier with click-to-call functionality.

With click-to-call functionality, customers can find their answers online through self-serve channels and easily talk with a customer care agent when they get stuck. There’s no searching for the right customer care number, making a call and waiting on hold, an inefficient process that customers know to avoid. Instead, click-to-call summons live support the minute it is needed and with just the push of a button, much like finding the right self-serve support document.

Around $1 trillion in annual sales is attributed to click-to-call functionality, according to mobile advertising analytics firm, Marchex. This is partially because click-to-call is particularly easy for mobile users, which account for more than half of all web traffic today. Google research shows that 70 percent of mobile consumers use click-to-call, and 61 percent reported that click-to-call is the most important phase in the mobile shopping process.

The speed and time efficiency for customers is one draw, but the continuity of click-to-call is another reason why it augments self-service offerings.

Continuity Counts

Research, much like writing and watching television, is a state of mind. When customers are searching for answers and researching a product through self-service channels, a momentum and single-mindedness builds. Making that next click to an additional support page or review site is an easy sell. Pausing the search, dialing a number and waiting on hold is not.

Click-to-call bridges this gap because there’s continuity with the self-service customer journey. Pressing a “call me” button on a company’s web site, or in their mobile app, and then seamlessly engaging with a live agent regarding the question at hand is fundamentally similar to the self-service research that preceded the call. The customer journey still is search and find through the Internet; the transition is not that much different than moving from a review site to a community forum in the search for answers.

This also is why embedded live support beats call-back customer support options. Pressing a button for live support is much the same as clicking another link, but then answering a separate telephone call breaks the continuity. Embedded live support within a company’s mobile app or on their web site through real-time communications such as the video chat API, on the other hand, maintains continuity. Answers are still served via app or web page, now more interactively with voice or video chat supporting on-screen information.

Customers want time efficiency, but they also want continuity. Almost everyone has made the decision at some point or another to continue searching online instead of saving time by just calling the company for answers. Blame research continuity for this irrational decision.

Click-to-call can address both customer needs. Customers save time when click-to-call functionality is near self-service options. They also get the continuity they crave when this live support is embedded directly on a company’s web site or within a mobile app.