A New Decade of Customer Service: The Rise of Chat
With a new decade having just begun, there is a steady flow of reflection on how much has changed in the past 10 years. One of the biggest evolutions has been in the customer service industry.
Think back to where we were a decade ago and you’ll see how much the “call center” has changed. Back in 2009, social media was in its infancy, the iPhone wasn’t a commonplace device, having arrived in the marketplace just two years prior, and websites having chat platforms was still somewhat of a rarity. As a result, the vast majority of customer interactions were happening over the phone and email.
It goes without saying that the increased engagement on the Internet and social media has significantly impacted contact centers over the last 10 years; but how about in a single 365-day period? Can an evolution happen in just one year’s time? Shake the Magic 8 Ball and you’ll see that, “signs point to yes.” Contact center interactions, specifically in the form of chat, will be making waves in the year 2020. Here’s why:
MOBILE MESSAGING APP USER COUNTS ARE THROUGH THE ROOF
Yes, the days of AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ are long in the past, but there has been a marked rebirth in direct contact via chat. To understand how big mobile messaging has become, let’s look at the leading chat platform Facebook Messenger. The standalone app has over 1.3 billion users worldwide, with 126.3 million users in the U.S. alone. Not only are these users leveraging messenger apps for personal use, they are also connecting with brands this way.
To create the ideal customer experience for consumers, brands are providing service via the same messaging channels that consumers are using to communicate with friends and family. Messaging is the fastest-growing channel for customer service, as more and more businesses leverage mobile chat applications to reach customers on their preferred messaging platforms.
CHAT WILL BE THE LEADING COMMUNICATION CHANNEL
50% of people already prefer texting over calling when it comes to customer service, which includes chat messaging apps. The days of phone calls as a primary form of communication are behind us, as smartphone messaging and chat applications have become much more prevalent with consumers. For customers who are looking for a quick and informative interaction, while gaining answers in real time, chat is the channel of choice.
Chat interactions not only provide answers to consumers’ questions about a brand’s products/services, they can also re-create the in-store sales experience for consumers. The growth of E-commerce has made it easier for stores, specifically in the retail sector, to have a greater consumer reach online. However, online shopping can sometimes take away from the personalized service a consumer would experience from a sales associate in a brick and mortar store. With chat interactions, customers can talk to brand representatives in real-time who can help guide them through their online experience. As a result, consumers are more likely to buy from companies whose websites feature a chat communication tool.
ARE YOU PREPARED FOR THE CHANGING COMMUNICATION COMMUNITY?
Achieving customer service excellence means thinking about the best way to serve customers through the channels they prefer to use. It’s becoming increasingly essential for brands to have a well-rounded portfolio of communication channels for customers to connect with them. It’s also key to pay attention to the fact that just as social media evolves and new apps rise and fall in usage, chat platforms are also going to go through peaks and valleys. The leading messenger apps of today may not be at the top within six months time. In fact, they may be taken over by emerging applications that aren’t yet on the radar. It’s important to stay up to date on customers’ preferred communication methods and adapt service options accordingly.
HOW TO STAY AHEAD OF THE GAME
Pay attention to communication trends and evolving customer preferences. At the heart of customer service is the customer, and listening to their wants and needs is a great way to improve the quality of your brand’s customer service while gaining long-term loyal brand advocates. 80% of customers consider customer experience to be as important as the products being sold, so achieving service excellence is extremely valuable in growing and maintaining a loyal customer base.
Creating a way for customers to reach you via chat is only the first step to customer service success. After customers reach you, they need to have a great experience while using your chat platform. Customers have high expectations when it comes to the speed of response for chat interactions. This is part of the reason why consumers will choose chat over phone interactions: they don’t want to wait on hold. Mastering chat interactions can significantly improve CSAT, but fail to answer chats and the opposite effect will happen.
Customer service is where you can bring your brand to life, and go above and beyond what consumers are expecting. If customers are unable to reach you when and where they want to, their opinion of your brand will begin to decline. However, when implemented effectively, chat platforms have the convenience, speed, and relevance to achieve service excellence for consumers, which will differentiate your brand from competitors.
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