By Kevin Rubin
The way consumers and businesses communicate with one another has changed dramatically in recent years. For example, former professional football player Steve Gleason told Southwest Airlines last year that some airline employees were unwilling to accept customers like him who had to fly with electric wheelchairs and special equipment. Southwest responded quickly and apologetically to Steve, and other Twitter users took note of this.
As technologies like smartphones and social media platforms like Twitter have become part of people's everyday lives, consumers expect companies of all sizes to be open to communicating with them through these modern channels. Clear and effective communication is the key to maintaining any kind of personal or professional relationship. Taking into account your customers' preferences regarding the methods by which they want to connect with you is of the utmost importance for the overall success of your company.
If you want to be one step ahead of the competition, you should introduce new technologies that you can use to talk to customers on their terms.
Customer experience with customer service representatives is becoming increasingly important for companies of all sizes and industries. The analyst company Gartner has declared Customer Experience (CX) as the "new marketing front". The 2017 Gartner Customer Experience Survey found that the majority (more than two-thirds) of marketers responsible for CX stated that their companies were largely competitive on this basis.
The interactions people have when they contact you with a question or problem make up a large part of CX, and a system that customers can only call or wait for an answer is not ideal. In fact, 44% of Americans would rather clean a bathroom for half an hour than spend 30 minutes on customer service, according to survey data from Helpshift last year. The survey also found that 76% would prefer to receive customer support via chat if they were guaranteed an instant response.
Although many people still prefer to call customer service, more people (i.e. Millennials and Gen Z) see chatbots and instant messaging than normal communication methods. This trend is likely to continue if people who grew up in the digital age represent a larger percentage of American consumers.
Businesses need to adapt and undergo digital transformation – the process of using new technology to improve business processes and improve CX – to stay afloat. Failure to respond to customer requests for alternative communication channels will frustrate them and encourage them to turn to competitors who are willing to commit to them.
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For companies that want to modernize their customer connection, cloud-based products such as Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) have proven to be useful solutions that support communication across different channels, e.g. Email and instant messaging. With these platforms, which are software provided by cloud providers over the Internet, customers can reach you using their preferred method, resulting in a better and more personalized customer service experience.