Messaging as a Mainstream Customer Support Channel in Contact Centers

The Potential of Messaging as a Mainstream Customer Support Channel

With falling margins of profit, spiraling costs and falling volumes of inbound telephone calls, contact centers are gasping for fresh air. A reason being cited is the reluctance of customers, especially the millennials, to engage with customer service agents on the telephone. However, does it mean people have stopped looking for service or assistance? The answer is clearly no. 

Customers today prefer to engage with contact centers through messaging as opposed to calling. It is high time for moribund contact centers to seriously contemplate the issue of integration of messaging into their omnichannel service delivery model, in order to revive their business and stay relevant.

A recent survey report has found that almost 38% of the respondents preferred to use various messaging apps to contact customer support than through telephone. When this report finding is juxtaposed with a Dimension Data report which suggests that a further drop of 35% in voice interactions is being anticipated, it presents a grim picture for customer service organizations. Another tantalizing statistic revealed in the same study is that almost 42% of the respondents said that they would rather clean a toilet than call customer care.

Although this study was carried out in the context of UK markets, it provides a very clear picture about the current world trend in customer engagement. Adoption of messaging as a mainstream customer support channel is expected to disrupt and revolutionize the company-customer interaction interface.  In this regard, a positive trend has emerged from the report, which is that almost 45% of contact centers are now using messaging as one of the key touch points.

Why are customers ditching extant channels in favor of messaging?

Today, millennials form the most dominant customers across the world. They want convenience, speed, and a personal touch in everything they do. These factors play a role in their interactions with businesses as well. The customers today consider calling a customer support executive as the last resort as they feel it is not a time-efficient mode of communication.

Another vital reason is that they want to be in control and want to be knowledgeable about a certain product or service. Messaging can intrinsically offer better self-service functionality. It is also very convenient as customers do not have to punch buttons repeatedly on their handsets in accordance with the IVR prompts. Sometimes, IVR systems can have problems with voice recognition or natural language in which case they start to underperform. The customers can also face problems understanding the accent/voice of the IVR or the agents. Such problems are almost non-existent in messaging.

Benefits that messaging hold for a contact center

There are multiple benefits of adopting messaging as a channel of communication with customers. It is cost-effective, certainly much more than having a live agent on a telephone call with a customer. It is fast and convenient. The third and the most important advantage is that it can seamlessly work across a plethora of devices.

Since the smartphone is now ubiquitous, consumers access various messaging platforms much more from their smartphones, than from their desktops. The mobility factor has given them the freedom to interact with businesses on the go. Although SMS still plays a predominant role when it comes to messaging, because it can be received and read on any phone (believe it or not, smartphones are still in the minority), its importance is slowly going down. Messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat are allowing customers to engage with contact centers in the same way they would with a friend.

Companies have been using live chats for long but they are better suited to desktops. A survey says that close to three-fifth of the smartphones users are averse to downloading new apps but an overwhelming majority spend maximum time engaging with an app. So, even if you embed the chat functionality in an app, your customers may not download it until and unless it has multiple functions. So, it will be much easier to tie up with 3rd party messaging platforms.

A messaging app allows customers to look for service at any time of the day, and with the help of ITR (Integrated Text Response)/chatbots, companies can make that possible without involving human agents. It also empowers customers. How-to videos and other information that can educate customers and make them self-reliant can be shared. Messaging has conversationalist property making it really convenient for users to engage.

On the messaging platforms, groups can also be formed which facilitates peer-to-peer interaction and creates a strong bond with the company. Messaging platforms also store important data and chat history of customers which allows companies to personalize their services for a particular customer, improving customer experience vastly.

Enough food for thought, isn’t? So ruminate on the benefits enumerated in this post and do give messaging a serious consideration if your contact center is not using it already.