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Inbound Call Centers vs Online Communities: The Benefits of Utilizing Both!

In his recent article on Customer Think, David Miller discusses customer communities and explores the notion that they’ll replace inbound call centers. A customer community can be a great resource in an age where many people are interested in self-service. Many customers like to do their own research and find answers to their questions about products and services before they reach out to a contact center. However, Miller argues that while an online customer community can be a valuable resource for customers, it won’t eliminate the necessity of an inbound call center.

First, it’s important to know the benefits of online customer communities. In short, it’s a place where customers can interact with experts and representatives from a company and fellow customers in order to learn helpful information about products and services. It helps customers figure out the answers to their problems to save a call to the company’s contact center. This not only benefits customers, but it can also benefit companies by saving them time on mundane or routine calls and reducing the overall costs of call center operation. Customer communities can also benefit companies by offering a place where customers can provide feedback and lend helpful insights that could lead companies to make important changes to their products and services.

There may be benefits to customer communities, but Miller states that they should never be considered as a replacement for an inbound call center. While online communities can handle routine support, customers still need the option to call and speak with a live agent when in need of higher levels of technical support for more challenging issues. Inbound call centers can fill the need for empathy and human connection when customers are stressed and frustrated, where online communities can be colder in that area. While a providing the human element of customer interactions is a major benefit of utilizing an inbound call center, inbound call center agents do more than deliver high-quality customer service. They can also give your business a solid ROI with their ability to up-sell, cross-sell, and increase average order size, which is not something you get strictly by using online customer communities.

Online customer communities may not be permanent replacements for inbound call centers, but they can be used as a strategy in conjunction with an existing call center. Miller says that encouraging your company’s online community will help your call center by taking care of many customers’ easy issues, which reduces the amount of overall call volume and helps your call center agents to have more time to focus on more challenging calls. Inbound call center partners offer a variety of multi-channel options, including email services, live chat support, and social media customer service. In addition, inbound call centers provide companies with software such as CRM systems, IVR systems, cloud software, ACD systems.

This blog post is based on an article from CustomerThink.

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