Running customer service channels efficiently and effectively is hard work. At the end of the day, you need well trained and caring humans in the chain.
Last month, I renewed my two-year cable service plan. In doing so, I decided to cancel my landline and go “all mobile”. I handled this transaction through live chat and everything went well. However, moving my landline phone number from my ISP (Shaw) to my mobile provider (Koodo) proved challenging. In the end, it took me almost a month to get this done properly.
The source problem was poor training of some agent in the Shaw porting facility. I finally learned that this agent mistakenly thought my Shaw phone was bundled in with my Internet/TV service – it was not – and refused multiple requests to release the number to Koodo. When I was finally able to escalate to in-person conversations with qualified supervisors at both ends, the issue was resolved in minutes.
So all this got me to reflect on the state of customer service channels at major service providers. Shaw relies heavily on live chat for customer service. Koodo, which pushes self-service in a big way, relies mainly on an AI chat-bot or “digital assistant”. I suppose you could argue that either approach can work well for well recognized service tasks.
Shaw customer service channels start out with an AI chat-bot which tries to recognize your area of need and get you quickly into live chat service queue. . Koodo’s digital assistant is, well, just plain useless. I was never able to get through to a human at Koodo until they sent me an e-mail on the porting failure that, thankfully, included a phone number for callback.
I spent six hours on Shaw live chat one day trying to explain and resolve my problem. They kept transferring me to different queues, sometimes multiple times. Most of the staff were not sufficiently trained to understand my problem – let alone solve it. About half of them gave me incorrect advice.
Customer Call Channels – Which Is Best
I tend to like live chat and use it as my first choice with Shaw. In particular, I like the fact that there is complete documentation of transaction provided by the chat trail, which I can save for reference. Generally, queues for live chat are much faster to enter than phone channels. Yes I know there are delays when agents handle multiple clients at once, but these are generally reasonable.
The only time I go first to phone channels is when I can get a callback without sitting on the phone for hours.
My experience with AI chat-bots show they are useless except for initial routing and identity verification. We are a very, very long way from effective AI customer call channels ruling the day.