Is Your Customer Care Still Stuck in the ‘90s?

While the ‘90s may be making a comeback when it comes to high-waisted Levis and “grandma” sweaters, vintage is not a good look in customer service.

Over the past ten years, customers have made a massive shift towards digital consumerism, and consequently, e-customer care. Last year, a survey found that consumers consider the telephone to be the most frustrating customer service channel. And many predict that it will soon be obsolete: 64% of consumers prefer to use texting over voice as a customer service channel.

And yet, as an industry, customer service has been slow to adopt innovative technologies, or even basic ones like mobile chat. And even those companies that have shifted away from voice and email, into chat and video have had trouble meeting customer expectations on those new mediums. While more than two-fifths of service interactions with telecommunications companies begin digitally, only 15% remain so from start to finish — indicating that the digital experience leaves much to be desired. There’s a marked discrepancy between what customers want from mobile and digital care, and what they’re getting.

Ditch the Landline

It’s no secret that consumers live on their phones: there have been innumerable articles detailing the benefits of mobile-centric customer care. According to recent research by Pew, the vast majority of Americans now own smartphones (77%), and over 50% of Americans also own tablets. Customer care professionals know this, and many companies are offering mobile chat and other mobile-friendly forms of communication — a great step in the right direction.

The problem is, companies do this and think “Finis!”

But there’s a big difference between creating a customer experience strategy that operates as the customer wants, and just putting mobile features on an existing strategy. It’s like the difference between a landline and a smartphone. Most companies are still using the digital equivalent of a landline.

There are two main problems with this:

  1. It’s not seamless across devices/platforms
  2. It’s not truly mobile friendly

The Natives of This Century Are Digital

As consumers grow more accustomed to “digital native” companies like TaskRabbit and Uber, they come to expect the streamlined user experiences they get with these products in every interaction — including customer service interactions.

Following this example, it makes sense to build your customer care platform starting with mobile. That doesn’t just mean slapping on a click-to-call button and some searchable FAQs. It means allowing the customer to complete their service journey — from question, to interaction, to answer, to fix — completely on mobile. This includes having in-app chat, push notifications for if an agent is not immediately available, in-app FAQs, and the ability to attach screenshots and illustrations within the chat. In short, it means ensuring that the user doesn’t have to move platforms in the course of a customer service experience.

Uber’s recently unveiled in-app customer service (a proprietary system) provides a great example of this being done well. Customers can chat with an agent, search FAQs, attach details about the ride that caused the problem, and even access old support messages, all within the app.

From the L Train to the Laundry Room

For those of us who exist on desktop and mobile, though, it’s important to have customer service that seamlessly transitions from device to device. Consumers increasingly move between their laptop, smartphone and tablet even in the course of a single task. In fact, over half of users rely on more than one type of device in an average day; one-in-five use another device while using a computer.

Think of, for instance: a user could start shopping on their phone while riding the subway, head over to desktop to check out, and if they hit a roadblock in desktop checkout, they may reach out to customer service. But uh oh, it’s time to do laundry! The customer opens Amazon on their tablet to continue chatting with the customer service agent. If this doesn’t go smoothly the shopping experience is ruined.

This capability is still a big roadblock for many customer service teams. 60% of digital experience stakeholders cited integration between technologies as a top barrier to success.

For customer service to truly please customers, it will need to allow users to interact with it as they do with their favorite apps and products.

Back to the Future

2017 digital means more than just mobile-optimized web pages, or SMS communication capabilities. 46% of consumers currently prefer to contact a company through messaging rather than by email, and this number is sure to grow. If your company is not using a cross-platform, mobile native customer experience strategy, then you need to think about a serious update: many customers will leave after just one negative customer service experience.

According to a recent study by Gartner, 89% of companies report that they expect to compete mainly on the basis of customer experience. And customers expect no less. To remain truly competitive in a world of smartphones, chatbots, and AI, it’s time to drag your customer service strategy out of the analog, and into the now.

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