Industry Insights

The Trouble with Traditional: Why You Need to Think Beyond the Call Center

Who hasn’t waited days for an email response only to get an automated reply without a real solution? And nearly everyone has spent valuable time on hold just to be handed off to another department, having to repeat account information with each new agent. Frustrating, right?

Traditional customer support channels like voice and email are primary ways to offer customer care. In the last decade, brands have also introduced live chat but it, too, has not been the magic bullet that brands hoped it would be for customer satisfaction.

Forward-moving brands are now looking at how their customers communicate in their daily lives, and for most, this is one-on-one messaging, where customer interactions can begin, get interrupted, and continue -- without losing data -- across time, devices, and channels.

This is what customers have come to expect in their daily lives and what they expect brands to be able to deliver. If you are exploring whether to add messaging to your support channels, consider the following.

Traditional support channels still have their place, but....

Phone Support is Past its Prime

  • It’s not scalable. In a call center, one human agent is needed for each customer at any given time. This limits volume during a crisis or high demand.
  • People on hold get frustrated. Being on hold wastes people’s time and causes irritation since they must be tied to their phone while they wait.
  • It lacks context. To create a complete record of the exchange, agents must take the time to document each conversation. Customers still end up repeating their story.
  • It’s just not preferred anymore. While teens and Millennials prefer messaging, more than 60 percent of Gen Xers and Boomers do, too.

Emails Prolong Resolution

  • Customers’ emails can be unclear, increasing the risk of misunderstanding and leading to an average of 2.4 emails between the customer and agent(s) to clarify the request and come to a resolution. To customers, that’s too much time going back and forth.
  • Your emails can hit the spam box. Even if they outsmart the spam filter, with an average email open rate of 25%, there’s a low likelihood that emails from customer support are read.
  • People expect a reply within one hour. With this expectation for near-immediate response, why not offer them something more….immediate? Like messaging!

Live Chat Lacks Context

  • You can’t scale it beyond three or four chats at once. Yes, live chat lets agents handle more than one customer at a time, but if you experience high chat volumes, customers will be left waiting -- and that’s no better than being on hold on the phone.
  • Customers lose context. When the chat session ends, it’s gone forever. Customers will have to repeat themselves if they need to chat with you again, and can’t go back to find information or answers.
  • It can be inconvenient. Most live chat systems are embedded on a website and not mobile-friendly, and the synchronous nature prohibits the customer from chatting when it’s most convenient.
  • It’s outdated. People are used to modern messaging, and a chat box that lacks a modern interface or non-intrusive way to engage will turn them off.

What about messaging channels?

Messaging is the next generation of customer support and it has the power to shift your customer support experiences to levels that delight and retain customers. In fact, 63 percent of consumers who have used messaging to contact a brand report they were very satisfied/satisfied with their experience, found Sapio Research/Aberdeen Research.

Customers love messaging because:

  • It enables them to have ongoing conversations with brands when and where it is most convenient -- without having to wait on hold or stay next to their computer
  • It’s a familiar and more personal method of communication, replicating the way they communicate with friends, family, and coworkers
  • Conversations can span devices and channels, following them wherever life takes them
  • Conversation histories are always available, so they can search for and reference previous information and answers

Third-party messaging, through existing apps like Facebook messenger or WeChat, provides an amazing experience for customers and is great for brands. However, it’s still not the be-all-end-all of messaging, especially for brands who deal with personal or sensitive information, like financial services and healthcare.

For those brands, choosing an brand-owned messaging solution can be a great approach, as it lets them:

  • Introduce a modern, brand-owned conversation channel on their .com or in-app
  • Own the messaging terms and conditions
  • Eliminate the outdated live chat box
  • Authenticate customers and transfer them to a secure conversation regardless of where they initiate contact

“Reaching customers on their channel of choice not only makes them happy, it also makes good business sense: 53% of people are more likely to shop with a business they can message.”

— Sapio Research/Aberdeen Research

So what’s the next step?

It’s true that consumers and technology will only continue to evolve, and new channels will continue to emerge. If your strategy to keep up with these changes is to continue adding new solutions or new technology providers into your customer engagement stack... you might want to consider a single platform that includes messaging alongside other support channels so your brand can:

  • Scale as needed to securely and efficiently handle more conversations
  • Consolidate support channels- including messaging- into one platform for agents to use
  • Unify customer profiles across platforms and channels, including CRMs so you have customer history and context all the time
  • Access easy reporting on the business impact you are driving across channels
  • Offer customers the support options they prefer -- including self-service, peer-to-peer, and brand-to-customer across digital channels

Ready to learn more about how you can use messaging to support customers the way they want to be supported today?

Download The Superhero of Customer Support: Messaging