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By Paula Fredericksen, Founder, Veras Partners


Robots aren’t staffing all support lines today, but you wouldn’t know it by the way the person on the other end of the phone speaks to you. Too often calls are answered by someone interacting with you in a monotone and expressionless manner that might as well be a machine.And that’s only when you can get past the automated chatbots directing you to press buttons for one extension or another depending on the reason behind your call in the first place.

Even if you do eventually reach a “live” person – which more often than not isn’t the case – providing a “human touch” approach to support has gone away in favor of more script-driven, metric-driven responses to customer inquiries. For software users, there simply aren’t many options in the marketplace for a personalized response to their needs, troubleshooting, and timely problem resolution around such pain points as:

  • Report Development
  • Deployment/Upgrades
  • Customizing/Analyzing Data
  • Training

The problem is no one’s feeling your pain, so to speak. The current trend in the software industry is to hire low wage, lightly trained staffers charged with processing and completing as many “tickets” as possible. Need more detailed and complicated help? Get ready to spend a lot of time on hold listening to, you guessed it, artificial music (also known as Muzak).

For companies solely focused on processing high call volumes and keeping overhead costs down, it makes sense to take this approach. But in the application management industry, it makes better business sense to follow T-Mobile and Nutmeg’s lead. Both companies recently made news by making a commitment to providing a more personalized support experience to their high value customers.

We’re taking a similar approach for the following five reasons:

  1. Staffing your support lines with certified experts who are highly trained professionals with hands-on experience using the application will make troubleshooting time faster and improve overall client satisfaction
  2.  Cultivating deeper personalized relationships with clients and understanding their business  will make your clients feel more valued and appreciated – and more likely to refer your business to their colleagues, friends and family
  3. A real person is more flexible than a chatbot and can pivot more quickly to a related topic if another issue comes up during the conversation, or upsell the caller to a higher price point service plan or software version as needed
  4. Faster “Time to Value” for any customer support or service request. Clients want quick resolution to their questions. They don’t have time to wait hours or weeks for a solution
  5. Metrics are meaningless if you lose clients due to frustration with support.

Given the high volume of calls that many companies receive on a daily basis, it’s unlikely that the call center concept is going away. Artificial intelligence like chatbots and other emerging technologies absolutely have their place in the support world. Basic administrative functions like changing passwords, taking orders or answering rote questions don’t require a “human touch” and can be handled easily and quickly using artificial intelligence. But when things get complicated, the low-tech human touch option is the better approach.