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Farewell to the landline: The future of customer service


We all remember a time when we were listening to the hold music on our home phone as we waited to talk to a service agent. False hope rang in our ears when the message, “You are the next caller,” came on the line.

When we finally got through to an agent, they were rarely able to address our issue without giving us a few days delay in response. We can recall that feeling of being powerless as companies ate away our time while inadequately meeting our service needs.

In a digital world, the days of the traditional call center are dwindling. Now companies are making a change. The “You Are The Next Caller” model is coming to an end and is being replaced by what I like to call the “DIY” and “One Size Does Not Fit All” models.

DIY is in

Today, the first line of defense when faced with a service issue or inquiry is the “Do It Yourself” (DIY) model. Customers are searching for answers on their own or engaging with communities of peers.  We know that best service ticket is the one that we can avoid creating.  As web analytics become more advanced, customers are expecting to type in their exact concern on a search engine or via social media and find a post or an online forum that will address that specific need.  Companies are now setting up community forums and self-service portals to swiftly get customers appropriate answers.

The same is relevant for today’s customer service agents. More companies are equipping agents with self-service tools to quickly find solutions within their internal databases. They can then communicate this through a variety of channels such as text, chat or social media.  By leveraging collaboration tools or knowledge bases, agents are also able to “DIY” to find solutions quickly without having to give their customers a 48- to 72-hour hold time.

One size does not fit all

There is no “one size fits all” model for customer service. There are varying levels of service requests, from “one and done” inquiries to multistep solutions that might need support from other areas of the business. Customers and service agents need different channels in order to support each unique engagement. By having multipurpose channels such as chat and video chat embedded into a company website, customers and agents can quickly connect in real time to walk through solutions.

This especially alleviates some of the more complicated service needs and helps shorten the resolution cycle by giving direct engagement between a customer and agent without them actually being in the same room.

There are other types of service engagements that might require a transition into sales or field service management. In turn, more companies are looking to equip agents with the ability to tap into sales channels to conduct order creation or tap into resource scheduling tools to find a field technician. This allows service agents to solve multistep service needs that seamlessly lead from inquiry to order or issue to onsite, without having to disengage with the customer and connect them to someone else.

Customer needs will not always be the same, nor will the solutions they are willing to accept for those needs. Customers used to call companies on landlines. Now we will mostly avoid calling. We will try to text, tweet, video chat, search for answers ourselves and quite possibly in the near future send a hologram to get a service issue resolved.

In response, companies will continue to craft and extend their channels of communication and move away from the “You Are The Next Caller” model.  With the “DIY” and “One Size Does Not Fit All” models, the goal is to continue to bridge the gap between what channels customers use, what their level of service need is, and what the company can support.

To learn more about the future of customer service, visit

Lisa James
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December 12, 2016
Lisa James

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