Organisations should embrace new messaging culture or risk falling behind their customers
Organisations that fail to adapt to the new messaging culture risk falling behind and losing customers, that’s according to new international research from BT and Cisco.
The research, ‘The Digital Customer 2017 Chat, tap, talk: eight key trends to transform your digital customer experience’, is based on an independent survey of 5000 consumers across Belgium, China, Germany, the Netherlands, India, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, the UK and the US.
Its findings suggest that a growing number of consumers internationally find it easier to deal with organisations via messaging and social media, a trend driven by a surge in their personal use of apps such as WhatsApp. The trend is particularly clear in China, where 37 per cent of respondents said that they use the messaging app WeChat for customer service.
The research found that almost half (48 per cent) of respondents get frustrated if text-based “chat” is not available when dealing with organisations (rising to 58 per cent in Singapore) while 70 per cent of those aged 18-34 years said they are sourcing more and more of their products and services via social media.
Overall, 58 per cent of respondents said they get a quicker, more instant response when using messaging compared with the phone, while 37 per cent said they would choose to contact an organisation via Facebook or Twitter if they had a problem which needed solving urgently, peaking at 65 per cent in India.
When asked how they would like to receive support from an organisation while accessing its services online — for example, while using an organisation’s app or researching a product on its webpage — 65 per cent of respondents said that they prefer to use webchat, up from 45 per cent in 2015.
With more than three quarters of consumers (76 per cent) saying that they buy more from companies that are easy to do business with, the findings suggest that organisations should upgrade their contact centre capabilities to support messaging and social media to help drive business growth.
Despite the growing trend for messaging and social media, consumers’ use of dedicated customer service phone lines fell only gradually between 2010 and 2017. Thirty one per cent of respondents in the UK and US said they had called a contact centre within the last two weeks, compared with 38 per cent in a similar study seven years ago and 43 per cent of respondents aged between 16-34 years said that they still want the option to call.
Andrew Small, vice president, unified communications and CRM, Global Services, BT, said: “While ‘typing’ to request customer support is increasingly popular, the research shows that people still want the option to ‘talk’. This creates a challenge for contact centre operators as they now need a technology platform that can handle both the evolving mix of apps that customers wish to use and traditional service channels such as the phone.
“Cloud contact centre platforms are ideally placed to help. They can be deployed as a single package delivering voice, video and messaging-based customer service together with operational tools for recording and call and agent management. They’re hosted in the cloud, creating the flexibility to manage peaks and troughs in demand. They can integrate data from other business systems, which is vital for consistency in customer service. Finally, they include recording, which is essential for good service and regulatory compliance.”
Tom Puorro, VP/GM, Unified Communications Technology Group, Cisco, said: “We live in a world where customers will change providers if an app is slow or it takes too many clicks to get a question answered. This research underscores that consumer-facing organisations need an integrated omni-channel strategy to be successful. Such a strategy will help them engage, innovate and be proactive to improve sales.”