SMS, Chat, and Social: The New Normal of Contact Center Solutions

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Contact Center solutions have been focused on voice for decades, with service-oriented companies maintaining staffs full of people devoted to fielding phone calls. Of course, those contact centers are still out there in abundance — but what’s changed is the customer.

 

In fact, the biggest changes in this scenario are the devices customers use to seek service, and the platform or app they’re most comfortable using. As we know, landlines have nearly fallen by the wayside, and gone are the days of using a phone strictly for making voice calls. Mobile devices have been a huge catalyst in reshaping how people communicate, transact, and even use their downtime. Culturally, we may lament that everywhere we go, people are glued to their phones or their laptops. But from a commercial standpoint, this shift presents an opportunity for savvy cloud service providers who are looking to connect with a population that spends much of its time in front of a screen. 

The cornerstones of customer service are moving on from voice to new channels: SMS text messaging, social media, and chat. Multiple industry experts now insist that communicating through apps, text, and other media is about to become a preferred method for interacting with customers. Yet only 39% of companies have implemented a communications system that integrates text and multimedia messaging into its cloud contact center solution. Doing so could open a window of opportunity for businesses, and for the providers who supply their technology.

“Meet Customers Where They Already Are”

Just how popular has text become as a means of communication? According to Mathilde Collin from the consulting firm GigaOm, the time people spend texting and using messaging apps surpasses the time spent watching TV. Consumers like the immediate, direct communication of text, which they feel leads to quick, effective issue resolution. 

As Collins notes, “If your company wants to actually be heard by your customers, it makes sense to meet them where they already are: texting on their phones.” According to her research: 

  • Text messages are opened 98 percent of the time, on average.
  • 90 percent of text messages are read within three minutes of receipt.
  • In comparison, emails are only opened 22 percent of the time.


The Key to Acing the “New” Contact Center Experience: Stay Human

If this research is correct, the one thing companies need to remember when implementing new, omni-channel customer service solutions is not to lose the human touch. Texts, social media responses, and even automated chatbots still have to deliver on a personal, emotional level.

The “emotion component” of the Temkin Group’s Temkin Experience Ratings survey took a look at the connection between customer experience and behavior. It found that the tone of the consumer’s interaction plays an extraordinary role in creating loyalty. This has led to the rise of what the media calls “Conversational Business,” where customers prefer to communicate casually through electronic and mobile platforms—as long as they feel like they’re having a genuine conversation with a person. This is true even in the case of chatbots. When chatbot responses are attentive, positive, and effective in resolving problems, consumers respond well to them.

According to Temkin, consumers who have positive emotional experiences are:

 

  • 15 times more likely to recommend a company.
  • 7 times more likely to purchase more from that company.
  • Close to 7 times more likely to forgive that company after a mistake.

By focusing on the communications channel that consumers are comfortable using and creating gratifying engagement experiences, companies can gain a competitive advantage by solidifying loyalty through these “new” customer service channels. But if businesses don’t embrace these media to expand their brands and reach new customers, they may find themselves becoming as archaic as the hardwired phone.

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