Could YouTube Replace the Call Centre?


We’ve touted the idea before with many of our customers, and the buzz is that YouTube is increasingly presenting itself as a key touch point for customer service. While many organisations do already upload videos onto the popular video-sharing website, such as sponsored blogger posts, product demos, promotional clips etc., we’ve suspected for a long time that in fact, we want to use YouTube’s community as a self-service channel.

In order to find out, the Aspect marketing team in the UK ran a consumer survey of 100 people living in the UK over the age of 16 and the results speak for themselves. It seems that we are all customer service reps now, as increasingly, we prefer to do our desk research first before ever contacting a company, whether we’ve bought something or not. Whether we feel it’s a hassle to go out of our way to make contact, or simply that we think it’ll be easier and quicker to find out the delivery times of our barbeque, or the length of a dress, or even to make a booking for a bowling lane; essentially, it’s clear that customer service strategies seriously need to consider the implications of the self-serve consumer culture that’s rapidly making a beeline for contact centres.

According to the survey, more than 3 in 5 of us (61 per cent) say that we’d immediately hit the net’s search engines for information about a product or service before money has changed hands, with a third (33 per cent) sticking to the same method for finding out information – such as how to use something, spare parts or delivery updates – even after we’ve made a purchase. Company websites were also popular among those asked, with 15 per cent opting for visiting a particular supplier’s website before purchase, 1 per cent more than using a reviews website.

YouTube was found to be an increasingly popular form of customer service, as when asked, 77 per cent of those UK consumers sampled would sooner head to the video upload site to find out how to resolve an issue, than contact the company they’d bought from. Curiously, 4 in 5 of us (84 per cent) get frustrated if we can’t find a satisfactory answer online within just 10 minutes of searching.

But what does this suggest to a customer service manger? I’m not saying “set up a YouTube channel NOW and populate it with How To videos” – that’s not the point, the point is that we are increasingly relying on each other to help solve our issues without ever speaking to someone from the organisation we bought from (or are intending to buy from). But I don’t think this indicates a lack of control or that customer service professionals should be worried about what’s going on behind the keyboards of the world’s consumers – I do think however that there is a truly fantastic opportunity to take a fresh look at self-service – beyond an IVR, FAQ engine or knowledgebase.

Self-service has evolved alongside the communications space, into a multi- and omni-channel environment, and with Aspect Multi-Channel Self Service, we understand how new channels, including social media, SMS and even web chat, can truly be a part of this.  Self-service strategies draw calls and interactions away from the contact centre into cheaper channels that can handle the most common issues. As a call avoidance strategy, it is effective. As a customer experience strategy, it is right on point with ensuring that today’s consumer is getting the help that they want, when they want it, in the way that they desire.

Do you prefer self-service over customer service?