Shep Hyken's Customer Service Blog

Guest Blog: How to Ace Customer Service in the Age of Immediacy

This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post my colleague, Paul Comaroto, writes about how the use of text messaging and live chat are influencing customer service. As companies are making an effort to provide better customer service, they must look at every option for their customers. – Shep Hyken

The rise of digital culture has shifted our world in so many profound ways, and topping the list is the lightning fast speed at which we expect things – information, answers, service, delivery and of course…

Gratification.

Nowadays a “real time” response is not just a nice feature – it’s an expectation.

For many issues, there are plenty of fast and easy ways to access what we’re looking for, from a quick online search to AI, chatbots, and other automated responses. The point is speed, not nuanced customer service and niceties.

But once the customer isn’t getting the answers he or she wants, the next step is to speak to a human being. And often, that customer is now frustrated not just with the problem, but also with the time and effort it’s taking to find the solution.

At that point, the expectation remains for the response to be prompt, but also personal and genuine. Because after all, we don’t need machines to treat us like people, but we do want people to treat us like people.

Having a phone number that a customer can call to talk to a live person is one solid way to provide consumer support, although increasingly Americans prefer texting to phone calls. For that reason, among others, many companies are adopting a holistic approach to customer service by offering real-time messaging, including live chat and text, so that customers can connect in a way that’s most comfortable to them while still enjoying a personal, one-on-one experience.

While live chat, the pop-up bubble that connects users with a “live” customer service representative, and texting are similar (i.e., they both eliminate hold time, offer privacy, allow customers to copy and save information, etc.) there are also nuanced differences between the two. Live chat is limited by its technology — it’s not mobile friendly, the customer must stay on the same screen throughout the chat, and once the session times out, the conversation is gone forever — and texting may be better for shorter conversations.

When Zendesk launched their messenger app, they did so in large part because they realized the way people behave on messaging and live chat was very different. “Live chat is like talking to an attentive assistant in a store,” they explained, “but messaging and its mobile-first nature introduces a new paradigm.”

While your business might not have the size and scope of a Zendesk to create a proprietary system to leverage the power of messaging to make fast, personal connections, persistent team messaging platforms are a novel way to perform a similar service.

A Salesforce survey revealed that 57% of consumers say they expect companies they purchase from to be innovative.” Applied to the world of customer service, that means today’s connected consumers want a smart, responsive service experience – and that makes all the difference when it comes to both satisfaction and loyalty.

And so today we’re seeing more and more online communities cropping up on messaging platforms, thanks to the smooth flow of communication, which includes text chat, video chat and file sharing. For businesses, this can be a great way to invite certain customers to connect directly with your customer service team for support, encouragement and personal attention.

And while messaging platforms aren’t a replacement for other direct customer service like a call center, they do offer a fresh way to connect with clients, provide transparency, and reinforce that you and your team care about them.

Plus, chat gives you the opportunity to share gifs, send emoji’s and otherwise create a feel-good environment that provides an extra special touch, which can help cement your customer loyalty.

For B2B companies, team messaging platforms help them stay in close connection with clients.

For example, SEA Media, a social media marketing firm, sets up guest user accounts for its clients, which allows them to see everything SEA is doing for them on a daily basis. Seeing a long list of to do’s marked DONE is a powerful statement.

“That’s when [our customers] realize there’s ‘no way I could do all that— no way I could duplicate that — so where do I sign’?” says Sara Moore, SEA’s CEO.

Moore also appreciates the fact that the platform reinforces the company’s authenticity and transparency – and makes remote connections feel intimate and personal. Plus chat seems more real time, and responses are much quicker than email or other communication.

Moore’s customer service tip in a persistent messaging environment is to create specific teams for each client – because in the end, when you are at the human connection level, your customer service is only as good as the people providing that support. And it worked: SEA saw 267% revenue growth in 2016 over 2015, when they both systematized their workflow and integrated a vibrant customer service aspect into their team messaging platform.

Customers used to instantaneous responses when they have an issue with a product or service are the new norm, and it’s up to companies to innovate solutions that speak to their audience. Using persistent team messaging to invite your clients and customers into your virtual tent is a great way to get up close and personal with those who matter most to your business.

Paul Comaroto is a product marketing manager for RingCentral Glip, a team messaging and collaboration application. He is responsible for increasing Glip user adoption and incorporating user feedback into the Glip product roadmap. Paul began his career as an officer in the US Air Force and is now passionate about helping people to be more productive.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.

Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article: How You Can Own Customer Service: Domain Name Goes To Auction For $2.1M

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