I’ve had a busy time these past few weeks- largely because I’ve moved house. For anyone who has moved house, especially recently, you’ll appreciate that it’s not the easiest thing on your to-do list; you’re living out of boxes, you don’t know where anything is and it takes a while for the dust to settle again. In my opinion, one of the worst aspects of moving house is having to change over all your providers and update LITERALLY EVERYONE with your new address. This can take some time, and is boring and tedious.
I found myself in this position only last week. I needed to change some details with our energy provider, so had a look on their website for a way to do this manually. When I realised I couldn’t do this myself online I called up my provider for what I imagined would be a simple five-minute chat. One and a half hours and four different agents later, my query was resolved.
“One and a half hours and four different agents later, my query was resolved”
What shocked me was how inefficient the call handling was- I had to repeat myself numerous times to numerous people and by the end of it, I felt so frustrated that it was almost impossible for me to view the company in a positive light (even despite the best efforts of the agents). Long story short, it was a bad customer experience which made me question staying with this provider altogether- if they can’t get this simple query resolved quickly for me, how can I rely on them in the future?
I’m not on my own here either. Research has shown that customer service interactions which make it difficult for the customer to reach out and force them to repeat information several times are four times more likely to result in customer disloyalty. What’s more, situations like this are unfortunately a lot more common than you might think.
With some companies' hold times averaging half an hour, or sometimes even longer, it’s no surprise that companies are looking for better ways to handle their customer service. As is stands, most current customer service processes seem to follow antiquated methodologies which don’t align with either the company’s or customers desired outcomes; i.e. making customers wait in telephone queues (sometimes for extended periods of time), which wastes their time and leaves customers feeling frustrated. The end goal for the customer is have their query handled quickly and efficiently so they can get on with their lives. The end goal for the company is to handle queries quickly and efficiently to save themselves time and money. The goals haven’t changed, but the context around them has.
The fact of the matter is this: people are impatient. We live in a time of next-day delivery and binge-watching, everything is optimised so we never have to wait for, well, anything really. Technology in our day-to-day lives through things like social media, Internet of Things and messaging apps like WhatsApp also means that we are communicating with each other differently now compared to even 5 years ago. We can communicate with each other more instantaneously and through a number of different mediums such as FaceTime, internet-calling (such as WhatsApp or Facebook calling) or DMs through social media.
This means that companies need to change the way they deal with their customers to reflect this technological shift. If people are changing the way they communicate with friends and family, they will likely respond well to this type of communication from companies too. It’s a natural progression. People nowadays are five times more likely to send a message (be it by text, social media, email or messenger apps) than they are to make a standard phone call to friends and family, so it stands to reason that people would be even less likely to want to pick up the phone to a customer services team. This begs the question:
How do you pull your customer services out of the 1990s and into 2018?
To answer that question, we’ll need to take it back a step. It actually begins with your website.
There are three main reasons why customers will visit your website. They are either looking for information, are wanting to contact you, or are wanting to buy something from you. Any of these can lead to an interaction from the customer. With more people than ever before preferring to use text-based means of communication, it makes sense to adhere to that trend and work with it. By including a web chat button to your website, your customers can easily communicate any query directly to your support agents without having to leave the website to make a phone call. Particularly for mobile-first sites, having a button visible on your page encourages the customer to start a conversation with minimal effort on the customers’ part. A great example of this is on StyleOurHome’s mobile website, see below:
Opening up a dialogue with your customer this way means that you can solve their queries quickly and effectively, by responding to them directly human to human. You don’t need to just take my word for it – a recent study revealed that web chat provides the highest level of customer satisfaction, 73%, when compared to more traditional customer service channels like phone calls (44%) or email (61%).
You know how the old saying goes: with increased customer satisfaction, comes increased customer loyalty and recurring revenue.
OK… so that’s not really an old saying. But it should be, because a study has shown that happy customers are 81% more likely to do business with you again.
It also makes a lot of sense for customer services managers- particularly those whose KPIs are based around minimising customer wait times and/or increasing customer satisfaction. Agents can manage (multiple web chats with customers, thus solving multiple queries, at the same time. By comparison, phone calls are a less efficient use of time because you can only deal with one person at a time. This means that by integrating a web chat feature to your website, you can increase productivity amongst your existing team, without potentially having to use up your budget on hiring more staff when your call wait times start to get out of hand. Excellent news!
There are times, though, when web chat alone isn’t the most suitable option to properly assist with customer queries. Typically speaking, web chat is used as a triage for smaller queries which can be handled quickly. As queries become more complex, or when a deeper level of consultation is needed, chats can then be escalated to voice calls, video chats and even cobrowsing… without having to keep the customer on hold or have to repeat themselves. A good example of this would be when looking to buy a car. As a high ticket item, the customer may need in depth advice on which model is right for them. Noticing that the customer would need a deeper consultation, the agent can escalate the call to voice or video call or a co-browsing session, which will help the conversation to flow more naturally between the customer and agent, as well as building trust and rapport, which from sales perspective, increases conversions. The journey is seamless and managed by the same agent throughout.
To summarise, the way humans interact with each other is changing. This isn’t to say that the traditional customer service centre as we know it is dead- far from it. There will always be people who prefer to phone or email in and are happy to wait. What is does mean though, is that it isn’t enough for this to be your only available method of contact for your customers anymore. As the use of tech in everyday communication continues to embed itself in modern society, companies must jump on the proverbial band wagon and offer up-to-date customer service options to encourage easy communication from customers. It doesn’t matter what the query is or which channel they use- the future of your company depends on it!
Finally, if you need any help reminding yourself why this is important to the success of your business, here’s an infographic which does all the hard work for me:
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