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One of the most fascinating results of the technology boom has been a massive rift between consumer and enterprise technologies. Teaching a 13 year old how to use an iPhone is infinitely easier than changing the way that a 4,000-person company does business. We’ve seen this disconnect rear it’s head in IT departments in particular, with many companies opting for BYOD (bring your own device). At this point, though, most companies have rectified their internal procedures to be on par with consumer needs: employees use Slack, get Macbooks and iPhones, don’t have to wrestle with confusing WiFi, have apps for reporting company expenses-the list goes on. But there’s one arena in which large businesses have still not been able to keep pace with an increasingly technologically literate populus: customer service.

If you think about the ways in which you communicate with your friends and your colleagues, they can be broken down into five categories: in-person; via text, messaging apps like iMessage, or Slack; email; video (such as Skype, Google Hangout); and phone calls. Of these five, the majority of communication occurs through the first two, (a bit more occurs on video if you’re a salesperson), and phone is largely reserved for calls to Mom.

The problem is, we’re at that same stage that IT was in 5 years ago: implementing self-service and chat options into the ways in which we conduct customer service is infinitely more difficult than teaching a single consumer how to check-in with an iPad, and text message instead of calling. Our issue in customer service right now is not about re-training the customer; it’s about retraining enterprise.

Is Enterprise Really That Bad?

Yes. As we wrote about earlier this month, we are in the absolute worst customer service crisis of this decade, according to recent research. In a world where consumers expect lightning-fast communication, and are literate enough to solve problems on their own, they are deeply disappointed with customer service that does not meet those needs. The problem is not so much that customer service has gotten worse over the past decade, but rather that it has not accelerated and advanced at the same rate as consumer expectations.

Bridging The Gap: What CX Managers Can Do About It

The two things that consumers are most accustomed to in their interpersonal interactions are speed and messaging. We use Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, iMessage– the list goes on– and in fact the top five most frequently used apps in the world are all messaging apps. This demonstrates two things: we love messaging, and we use it a lot. This frequency of usage indicates that the messaging is largely happening instantaneously, with people holding prolonged conversations over it.

Just as the rise of smartphones and personal devices resulted in BYOD, we are at a point where the rise in messaging must result in customer service using messaging to communicate with customers.

Does this mean overhauling your entire support system? Not necessarily, but it does mean changing priorities. Where once the goal of customer service was creating the perfect script, now it’s about integrating the technology to facilitate speed and messaging. Customers are unforgiving when it comes to an experience that doesn’t meet their expectations. And since we know what those expectations are, there’s no reason that customers should have to forgive anything. The bridge between you and your customer is paved with speed and messaging; all you have to do is build it.

Published September 27, 2016
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