A New Decade of Customer Service: The Rise of Chat
“It’s clear that the increased engagement online and on social media has significantly impacted contact centers over the span of 10 years.”
It’s natural for businesses to reflect on what has changed in their industry, especially within the last decade.
If you think back to where call centers were a decade ago, you’ll see how much has changed as technology continued to evolve. 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’s clear that the increased engagement online and on social media has significantly impacted contact centers over the span of 10 years. But how much has changed in a single 365-day period? Can an evolution happen in just one year’s time? Many signs point to yes. Here’s why:
Mobile Messaging App User Counts are Higher than Ever
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 138.1 million users in the U.S. alone. These users are leveraging messenger apps for personal use as well as 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 is the Leading Communication Channel
50% of people 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. Customers who are looking for a quick and informative interaction in real time will choose chat.
Chat interactions not only provide answers to consumers’ questions about a brand’s products and 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. 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.
Be Prepared for Change
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.
While social media evolves and new apps rise and fall in usage, chat platforms will also go through peaks and valleys. The leading messenger apps of today may even be outshined by emerging applications that aren’t yet on the radar. It’s important to stay informed on customers’ preferred communication methods and adapt service options accordingly.
How to Stay Ahead of the Game
Pay attention to communication trends and evolving consumer preferences. At the heart of service is the customer. Listening to their wants and needs is a great way to improve the quality of your brand’s customer support 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 success. After customers reach you, they need to have a great experience while using your chat platform. Consumers expect to receive fast, accurate responses during their chat interactions. This is part of the reason why they choose chat over phone support: they don’t want to wait on hold. Mastering chat interactions can significantly improve CSAT, but failing to answer chats will have the opposite effect.
Customer support is an opportunity to bring your brand to life and exceed your customers’ expectations. When implemented effectively, chat platforms provide the convenience, speed, and relevance to achieve service excellence for consumers, which will differentiate your brand from competitors.