What is call deflection and how it can help brands improve customer experience

How to leverage digital channels effectively to provide customers with a quick and dependable service that also means reduced costs for your business.

Product Marketing Manager

Gabriela Marinčić

Product Marketing Manager

Today’s customers have high expectations. They want their queries resolved quickly and with minimal effort. They also want to be able to communicate with businesses in a way that is quick and convenient for them. People do not appreciate having to wait on hold to speak to an agent and expect brands to provide effective and efficient self-service options.

Meanwhile businesses are struggling with increased call volumes and the overheads of providing a voice service. To control costs and maintain service levels, they need to constantly find ways to improve contact center productivity and optimize the ratio of incoming calls to resolved queries.

This is where call deflection can become a key tool to help provide a customer experience that is memorable for the right reasons.

What is call deflection?

Call deflection is a technique that transfers incoming customer calls to a digital chat channel, to be dealt with either by a human agent or a specially trained chatbot.

With the option to select their preferred channel, the result is a more positive experience for both customers and call center agents.

The immediate benefits of call deflection include:

  • Businesses can divert inbound calls to lower-cost digital channels and improve CX
  • Customers get a quick and more convenient customer experience
  • Agents’ performance is optimized

Chatbots can be used to answer the high volumes of simple queries that don’t require a human, but with the option to transfer to a live agent at any point for issues they cannot solve.

Call deflection is not about avoiding customer queries but about ensuring that they are dealt with quickly and on the most appropriate channel – so that customers feel well-served and valued.

How does call deflection work?

When customers call into a business looking for information, the IVR menu gives them the option to continue the conversation over a digital chat channel.

When the customers confirm, our API instantly triggers the transfer, and a conversation is started over the desired channel – with a chatbot or directly with an agent.

The benefits of introducing call deflection

Different organizations will benefit in different ways, but there are 3 primary reasons why all organizations should consider introducing call deflection.

1. Improved customer experience

Customers want an easy and convenient experience when reaching out to customer support. Long waits on hold are unacceptable, and having to listen to long IVR menus that don’t include the option you need are just plain frustrating!

50%

of customers rate an “immediate” response as essential or very important when they have a customer service question

60%

of customers define immediate as 10 minutes or less

Call deflection makes this possible by giving customers the option to opt-out of waiting in a phone queue and be redirected to the digital channel.

Another key benefit is that with digital channels callers can be sent information via files and links, which can often help them solve the issue on their own. They are also not tied to the phone indefinitely waiting for an agent to respond to the call – they can simply send their enquiry and be notified when the agent has answered. A great example of this productivity perk is CIAK Auto, whose customers are auto mechanics that often prefer to continue working while waiting for a response from the automotive parts distributor.

On top of everything, digital customer service is the preferred option for those who don’t like to speak to live agents but would rather chat, and for those that appreciate the ability to exchange documents or media files, and have their queries answered outside of normal working hours.

2. Easier management of conversations for agents

Thanks to their asynchronous nature, chats are easier to manage than voice calls. Customers don’t expect an immediate response, and agents can take time to search the knowledge base for the best and most precise information to provide.

Additionally, agents can handle multiple chat interactions simultaneously, which isn’t possible with voice calls.

By bringing automation to chat channels, a chatbot can handle FAQs, send files or links, and reduce the number of inquiries for agents. Agents can track customer and chat history and use rich media to help provide a personalized customer service. The time they save means that they can concentrate on customer requests that require their unique knowledge and skill set.

3. Improved business productivity

The main goal for brands using call deflection should be a better customer experience – it has been shown that NPS and CSAT have improved dramatically for businesses that have introduced this use case.

After that comes cost reduction – call deflection reduces the number of expensive, time-consuming phone calls. According to McKinsey and Company, brands who transition to digital customer service can reduce costs by 30% while increasing customer satisfaction by 19%.

5 key call deflection use cases

The basis of a successful call deflection strategy is the ability to offer a more efficient service on the customer’s preferred digital channel. For brands with an international client base this means including all the apps and social channels that are most popular in the countries that customers live. This may include WhatsApp, Viber, Apple Messages for Business, Google’s Business Messages, and more.

A 2022 study of telco customers by Infobip found that 60% of customers said that ‘convenience’ was the main reason they preferred communicating on digital channels. They also mentioned the speed of getting answers, the ability to see previous chat interactions, and the ability to maintain the same dialogue across multiple devices as key advantages.

1. Queue dodging

Offer customers the option to avoid long waits on hold by switching to digital channels when there are a lot of people ahead of them in the queue.

You can define specific rules to provide a consistent experience, for example when the estimated wait time is longer than [5] minutes or when there are more than [10] callers ahead of them in the queue then provide an alternate service option.

2. Out of hours sales support

You customer service operation shouldn’t just stop when your agents have gone home. People shop online at all hours of the day and night. Redirect customers to your sales support chatbot out of office hours if you don’t run a 24/7 call center. Provide product information, stock updates, and payment support to ensure that you can close more sales. Chatbots are more about just chat and can provide information using images, video or with website links that have a deeper level of detail.

3. Sending documentation

Who can afford stamps these days and has the time to go find a postbox? If you need a customer to send you a document, for example a signed contract or certificate, give them the option to switch to digital channels to submit them digitally as attachments or images.

4. Appointment booking

Enabling customers to book their own appointments via your website or other digital channels is a sure-fire way of saving them time and hassle and reducing the load on your call center. They can pick a date and time that suits them and if they have any questions, they can be connected to an agent or leave a question that can be answered before the day of the appointment.

5. Video support

Sometimes a face-to-face video is necessary to solve a customer issue, which may not be available over traditional voice services. By redirecting customers to chat, your agents can generate a video call link through our contact center solution Conversations, which can be shared to kick off a live video call.

The role of chatbots in call deflection

While chatbots are not crucial to a successful call deflection strategy, they certainly enhance it and make it possible to cover more use cases and service more customers without increasing staffing levels.

You don’t need a very complex conversational chatbot or provide a ChatGPT like experience to cover the vast majority of real-world use cases. Simple rule-based chatbots that provide a guided experience are easy for anyone to build and deploy and can be used for all sorts of useful tasks.

  • Day to day enquiries: Create a chatbot that can provide answers to questions like “What is my account balance?” or “What are your opening hours?” that don’t require a human agent.
  • Order tracking: People are impatient, especially when they order treats for themselves and gifts for others. Enabling people to get reliable updates on the status of their order without ringing you directly will take away a huge chunk of the calls that your staff have to deal with during periods when they are already busy.
  • Lead generation: When a potential customer is on your website and wants to make an enquiry prior to buying, a chatbot can give them the information they require there and then to stop them drifting off to a competitor’s site.
  • Health assistants: With the increased trust in chatbots there is huge potential to use them to help people lead healthier lives and to assist when they do suffer from an illness. Chatbots can provide information, allow patients to record and submit readings, for example blood pressure, and even book appointments to see a specialist.

They can be enhanced with buttons, emojis and rich media and can be designed to be an extension of your brand in terms of the way they look and behave.

Of course, you can go further and train your chatbot to recognize intent to provide an even faster service and offer a more conversational experience. The sky really is the limit.

Build your own chatbot with a free Answers trial

Explore how easy it is to build a chatbot by signing up for your own Infobip account. Check out our useful step-by-step guides to help you along the way and prove that you really can create a simple self-service chatbot in minutes.

How to build a chatbot for:

Examples of call deflection

There is no better way of understanding the value of call deflection that seeing how it can be applied in the real world. Here are just a few call deflection examples that have been implemented by our customers.

UNICEF

UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund incorporated a chatbot into their donor communication strategy to ensure that support was available 24/7 and that queries could be answered immediately.

The result? A 33% reduction in donor churn.

LAQO Insurance

As Croatia’s first fully digital insurance provider, LAQO adopted a GPT-enabled assistant that now handles 30% of the customer queries that the company receives.

Apollo 24/7

The leading healthcare platform incorporated call deflection into their patient communication strategy to help it become more accessible and patient-centric. Using a WhatsApp chatbot, patients can check their symptoms to get the most appropriate guidance.

Will a call deflection strategy benefit your business?

Not every business is the same and there is no single call deflection strategy template that can be applied to every organization and use case.

However, if you want to improve your customer experience, reduce both wait times and call volumes, then the answer is a definite yes – introducing a call deflection strategy that is the right fit for your business is the way to go.

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Dec 12th, 2023
9 min read
Product Marketing Manager

Gabriela Marinčić

Product Marketing Manager