Traditional customer support methods do not necessarily work for online businesses.
Not too long ago, the tag-line “One Size Fits All” was appealing to customers. The simplicity of the concept—that a product or service can be delivered in a way to satisfy a wide range of expectations—made a lot of sense to vendors and consumers. Today, the exact opposite is true. We all want to be recognized as individuals, and treated as such. Businesses today have such an overwhelming amount of data on customers—from buying propensities to lifecycle valuations—that there is no need to take a One Size Fits All approach when dealing with customers. Yet, this is precisely what many customer service organizations do in terms of the delivery of customer support.
Legacy customer service organizations—which have invested heavily in large contact centers—often still take a voice-first approach for serving customers. There remains an emphasis on traditional call center infrastructure, even if the client operates a very different model—and that can lead to consumer disconnect. It only makes sense for the customer support strategy to mirror the client’s outreach initiatives to best align with customer expectations, and provide the depth of service that will really resonate.
Make no mistake, for many consumers, there is still comfort for many in being able to pick up a phone and chat with a live, human problem-solver. That dynamic will always be there. But, as we in the industry know, this is changing every day.
In recent years, it has become more difficult for some internal customer support teams to recruit and train knowledgeable representatives to handle incoming calls, and resolve any issues efficiently. Even if voice calls are handled appropriately, how does this strategy line up with the needs of online businesses that also require support?
There are several realities taking place here; from the business perspective, we are in an age when many service-oriented companies have only ever existed in a digital world. As a point of reference, the website Business of Apps stated that mobile e-commerce revenue alone reached $3.56 trillion in 2021. These merchants market, sell, and engage with customers virtually. Considering that, it’s good business sense to make it easy for customers to receive help, get answers to questions, or resolve other service issues quickly and competently through a method they prefer. Food delivery providers, rideshare services, and legions of e-commerce merchants also have customer support requirements, so wouldn’t it make sense to provide customer service in ways that are in sync with their sales strategies?
From the end-user side, we are witness to two generations of consumers who have been raised in a world that, to them, is digital-first. They have never known a world in which the Internet does not exist. Their socialization skills have been shaped by the changes in our technology, and there is both anecdotal and empirical evidence that says they prefer to handle most interpersonal communications via text and email. When faced with a customer service issue they, especially, do not wish to speak to a human being. That should not, however, suggest they don’t want results. They want them, and quickly, too.
With this in mind, virtual businesses would be well-served to realign their customer service strategies with their customer bases. Whether relying on internal staff or a well-resourced BPO, digital organizations should examine several concepts to better satisfy customer needs.
Consider Digital Interaction Capabilities as the First Point of Customer Contact
By providing digital-first CX services, companies meet customers exactly where they want: the virtual environment where they typically conduct business. Give consumers the option to resolve their issues online first—either through self-help or assisted services. Forcing them to use voice services before other channels invites both frustration and dissatisfaction.
Elegantly Combine Technology with Human Resources
As much as we’d love it, self-service tools are not 100 percent foolproof. There will be times when all of us will need the human touch to resolve an issue. Businesses should offer quick and easy live agent access into their self-service customer service features.
Never Ignore the Importance of Voice
There will always be a large base of customers that prefer to rely on voice for customer service support. Voice remains the most intimate and empathetic medium and, for those of us whose lives revolve around superior CX, this is a reality that cannot, and should not, be ignored. This is why voice remains the top of the customer escalation pyramid. When all else fails, customers want to SPEAK with someone. This is not going to change.
There is no One Size Fits All solution anymore. Consumers that prefer to engage and transact digitally expect customer support access in the same manner. Rather than resort to the old method of delivering customer service—through voice-centric contact centers—digital businesses should implement customer support strategies that align with their sales model to ensure that customers are indeed serviced in the way they expect.
Edited by Erik Linask