’Tis the season for retailer promotions. In October, Target announced it will roll out free two-day shipping through the holidays. Since then, more retailers have followed suit with enticing deals to spread holiday cheer for shoppers.
With the launch of major holiday sales and promotions comes the need for retailers to strengthen their support channels for when things go wrong. Whether a retailer’s native mobile application is suffering an outage, an important product sells out, or a big storm is causing unexpected shipping delays, retailers must ensure they can connect with their customers at a moment’s notice to provide important updates.
So, how can retailers find the right platform to bolster their customer service experience during high-traffic and high-stress times like the holidays?
The Rise of Messaging Apps for Customer Support
While chat apps were previously seen as an alternative way to text with friends and family, they’re now becoming a viable touchpoint for brands to interact with customers. In the midst of the holiday rush, messaging apps ensure brands are always accessible to shoppers. This includes providing support when things go wrong, or even just answering quick questions customers have before completing their purchases.
Here are three reasons retailers should incorporate chat apps into their customer service strategy this holiday season:
Open Access to Agents — With No Download Required
A recent Gartner report revealed that 20 percent of brands will abandon their mobile applications within the next year. Not only do native apps take a lot of work to update and improve, consumers simply don’t want their smartphone to be overloaded with apps from different brands.
Instead of investing resources into adding chat support on native apps, retailers should look to third-party messaging platforms that customers already have downloaded on their phones. Not only is this often the less expensive route, it makes accessing brand representatives easier and more seamless for shoppers.
Two-Way Engagements Improve Relationships With Shoppers
Generally, consumers’ means of communicating has shifted, opting for digital platforms over traditional calling. For brands, this means shoppers are no longer willing to wait on hold to speak with a representative on the phone.
Messaging apps allow retailers to align their customer service with consumers new communications preferences. In addition to improving the overall customer experience, chat apps create the opportunity for two-way interactions that allow brands to really get to know shoppers. By collecting these unique insights and building shopper profiles, brands can tailor the overall experience to build loyalty.
Chatbots Streamline Interactions
Messaging apps also create the opportunity for streamlined conversations via chatbots. Gartner predicts that a quarter (25 percent) of customer service operations will integrate chatbots by 2020 due to their ability to reduce formal inquiries (via phone or email) and improve overall customer satisfaction.
Retailers must strike a balance between live and automated chat, offering bots to answer quick questions that are frequently asked, while leaving live representatives to manage more complex customer issues.
The holiday rush is on. For retailers to effectively support shoppers through this chaotic period, they must incorporate messaging platforms into their customer service strategy. Not only will this result in higher holiday sales (due to fewer roadblocks in the shopper experience), but it will also drive long-term customer loyalty, which is the greatest gift of all.
Zephrin Lasker is the vice president of e-commerce at Viber, a cross-platform instant messaging and voiceover IP application.