Over the past few years we've witnessed customer experience undergo a complete digital transformation. The modern consumer is more demanding than ever, and technological advancements are coming thick and fast. Creating a coherent strategy can seem overwhelming, particularly when you consider that 83 percent of consumers have higher digital care expectations today than they did just a year ago. Therefore, as retailers, how can you focus your efforts to ensure you stay ahead of the curve?
Embrace Messaging Channels
Having burst onto the scene last year, private messaging has now matured to become the preferred customer service channel. The likes of Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp for Business, and Apple Business Chat allow consumers to have conversations with brands in the same way that they do with their family and friends. Unlike live chat, you’re not tethered to a pop-up window. You can send a message, head out for lunch and then receive a notification when you have a response waiting for you. The appetite for using these channels is clear. In the State of Digital Customer Experience Report, 75 percent of respondents said they now prefer to use private messaging over traditional channels to communicate with brands.
The good news then is that we know where consumers want to receive customer support. The bad news is that just 39 percent of people who have used messaging to contact a brand rated their experience as positive. To some extent, teething problems are to be expected with any new service offering, but there are some key steps to take to ensure you deploy messaging channels effectively.
The Introduction of Automation
Getting an issue resolved in a single interaction was cited by 42 percent of consumers as the most important element to having a positive customer experience. But with the number of in-bound queries on the rise, how can you scale for both customer and agent? One word: bots.
As a consumer, say you’ve ordered something online and you want an update on the delivery time. A service bot can handle this request and source the information needed, often in a single interaction. For example, a customer can reach out for an update over Messenger and receive all the information needed — gathered solely by a service bot. If the bot isn’t able to retrieve the required data, then it's intelligent enough to hand the conversation over to a human agent.
Being able to automate your highest volume contact-center queries will have a huge effect on the efficiency of customer service. And while the thought on communicating with a bot may not be to everyone's liking, 50 percent of respondents say that they no longer mind experiencing a bot-augmented service interaction. As the technology improves and consumers become accustomed to having conversations with bots, this number will only increase.
The Future is Now
So what does this all mean for retailers? In 2020, the biggest winners and losers will be determined by those brands that can successfully build meaningful one-to-one relationships with customers on their preferred communication channel — private messaging. Combining human agents with bots allows you to do this at scale, providing timely responses when possible and richer conversations when necessary. And it’s not just consumers who are pushing this shift in service. With Facebook pivoting priorities from public to private and Apple getting in on the act too, the momentum is clearly with messaging.
Ido Bornstein-HaCohen is CEO of the customer service software company Conversocial.