How Customer Service is Changing

March 22, 2017

As technology further improves how we do business, it is also improving how customers can interact with companies. It’s generally acknowledged how annoying it can be to receive non-stop customer complaints, but the less acknowledged fact is that customer complaints don’t happen as often as they should. Many customers have reservations about contacting a company to fix a problem due to the time invested, the possibility of not getting it fixed at all, or getting ignored by customer service representatives.

Many customers regard contacting customer service to simply not be worth the effort, with 38% of participants in a survey suggesting they’d rather clean a dirty toilet than go through the rigmarole of calling customer services. On top of this, a large number of participants felt that their business with these companies was underappreciated. In the end, this lack of customer satisfaction adds up, with almost half of these participants saying that they have recently stopped doing business with a company due to poor customer service. Overwhelmingly, these business are customer-facing retail roles.

There’s also something of a generational gap regarding customer service. ‘Baby Boomers’ or people born between 1940 and 1960, are more comfortable and willing to use customer services than ‘Millennials’, born between 1980 and 2000, who prefer to figure out a way to fix a problem themselves. There’s also a noticeable gap between generations when it comes to how they prefer to use customer services: Millennials prefer to use text messaging over a phone conversation, while it’s a small minority that prefers texting with Boomers.

How Customer Service is evolving

In response, a lot of business have starting building ‘chatbots’, to provide a quick response time and enable those more used to texting to use customer services. A chatbot is usually present while the user is navigating the company website. While they can be used to create sales and offer prices, it’s used mostly by people who need to discuss a problem.

These chatbot systems seem to be working: well over half of survey participants have stated that chatbots are here to stay and that they use them at least once a month. With this in mind, it might be time to look at the systems we use now for customer service: Large, outsourced call centres with overworked staff, lengthy and frustrating automated phone systems that put you on hold for 15 minutes and email tickets being ignored or delayed without reason.

While a chatbot still inspires some consternation and frustration due to being imprecise or obnoxious, there’s a sizeable portion of your customer base that prefers a chatbot (or a chatbot that switches to a CSA when needed) that would otherwise consider customer service to be too much of a pain to bother with. When you provide a chatbot on your website, you give a larger portion of your user base the ability to discuss issues, strengthening customer retention and improving the reputation of your business with concerned customers.

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