The call centres are on fire

With call centres at breaking point, is it time to address your help and support touchpoints?

A telephone melting in a fire.

Reducing the call centre burden

In a climate where call centres are overwhelmed, operating on a distributed model or turned off altogether, ensuring your business is doing everything it can to support customers effectively, through digital channels, is key.

It may seem like a daunting time to tackle this issue, especially if it’s been a long-neglected part of your business. That said, the process of improving customer 'Help and Support' experiences doesn’t have to be hard if you follow a few simple principles.

Treat this as an exciting and rewarding opportunity to leverage technology and serve your customers better than ever before. And remember, the work you do now and the practices you put in place will save you money in the future too.

Getting started with 'Help and Support' experiences

Let’s start with the essentials – well designed online Help and Support experiences. This includes Help and Support pages, chatbots and live chat. They are all often an afterthought or seen as a “should-have” but not given the care and attention they deserve.

These functions aren’t as glamorous as your beautiful product pages, but they aren’t any less important. The satisfaction they can offer your customers, and the potential efficiencies they can generate for your business and your staff, cannot be underestimated.

In a previous article, we outlined some key principles and considerations taking into account what we’ve learnt from our work over the years:

Design principles for Help and Support experiences
 Some wider considerations about Help and Support experiences

Beyond a robust set of Help and Support pages, there are additional friendly tools and technologies you can use to augment and improve Help and Support experiences:


Yes, we know, that old chestnut – but when executed well by following the chatbot experience design principles we’ve outlined they can prove very effective:

  1. Don’t do it yourself - building from scratch is often expensive and unsuccessful. There are many existing and proven platforms out there you can use and experts who can consult on this

  2. Make it clear you are talking to a bot. If you want to create a successful bot, manage expectations upfront and introduce it as a bot.

  3. Make it clear what the bot is for and what it can’t do - if it’s a bot dedicated to delivering in depth weather reports about London, then state this. This clearly defines the user’s field of expectation for the bot

  4. Keep on topic - conversational aligners are a language tool which help bring the user back to focus on the narrow field of knowledge that the bot has. Asking questions like, ‘Do you have a question about your current account?’ helps to steer the conversation and provide better outcomes, with greater expediency for the user

  5. Let the user hit ‘Esc’ - adding a ‘fall back to human’ feature to the conversational UI after a series of failed attempts provides a safety net for your customers

  6. If the user hits escape, make it smooth - users won’t want to wait around, they’re probably already frustrated that the bot couldn’t help. Allow the human to read the prior chat with the bot. This will mean the user does not have to repeat too much information

  7. Intercept traditional forms of interaction - don’t make customers come to you with their queries, be where they are when they’re browsing. This kind of personalisation has been proven to help increase sales according to Forbes

  8. Build the bot into the experience - consider the placement and presentation of your bot. How does this nest on, or next to, the digital experience the person is engaging with?

  9. Get someone experienced like a UX writer to write and edit your dialogue - in conversational UI the words become the design. Copy is crucial; users will be more likely to engage with an interface with personality

Live chat

A good live chat experience can be a firm middle ground between call centres and chatbots and when executed correctly can prove effective. Through our research we’ve found that many users prefer speaking to someone on chat rather than calling.

There are some clear benefits:

With these clear benefits, here’s what companies can focus on when improving the experience of a live chat function:

However, many companies aren’t comfortable taking this amount of risk.

Here, UX writing can help to create scripts across different scenarios that feel much more personable - Monzo do this well. 

Expand your range

Make it easy to store and share information
Summing up

It’s important that Help and Support channels are easily accessible with multiple entry points.

Display key Help and Support channels upfront and explain the purpose of each and the key differences between them to help users make an informed decision around which channel to go to for help.

Always do research to understand what your users need from Help and Support tools. Combined, the trinity of well-designed Help and Support pages, chatbots and live chat can take the heat off of the phones; saving your business money and keeping your customers happy.

Related articles