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customers want low friction channels like Automated Chat

More and more customers are choosing to use low friction channels as their point of contact for customer service. Chat, which includes automated chatbots and interfaces to chat with live agents, is perhaps the most suitable of all such channels.

What is the one thing your customers want more than anything else when it comes to customer service?

They want to obtain a relevant, accurate and complete answer to whatever the question is that they have. They want to do it the first time they contact you. And, they want to get on with their lives.

Abandonment rates from customers who have a question that they are unable to have answered are high. It is also a fact that the vast majority of customers say that the most important aspect of good customer service is a company that values their time in the same manner that they do.

Understanding this, it’s no wonder that a growing number of customers are seeking to leverage self-service and agent-assisted digital communication channels for their customer service needs. These are the channels that offer the least amount of friction.

Perhaps the most notable of the low friction channels is that of chat which is rising in popularity all the time. In fact, according to the Dimension Data Global Contact Center Benchmarking Report 2016¹, Web chat experienced a year-over-year rise of 33.8%.

This is not all that surprising, since the same report points out that average wait time for a response to an e-mail contact is 299 minutes, while for social media it is 78 minutes. Web chat, in contrast, averages four minutes in comparison.

Why do customers like it?

The beauty of chat, as far as the customer is concerned, is that they are able to quickly get to their answer, without first having to navigate an arduous interactive voice response (IVR) menu.

Another key benefit is that it enables them to resolve their challenge in near-real time, which harks back to their desire to not waste their valuable time. Most people today are adept at communicating via text and short messages, which means that live chatting with a company is not all that different to texting with a friend.

People like to multi-task when they can, and chat provides them with just such an opportunity. Instead of feeling as if they are wasting time trying to resolve an issue, they can do other things while in the midst of such a chat.

Don’t forget your agents

Remember that while chat offers customers many advantages, all of these will be worth nothing if the agent handling the contact is unable to resolve their problem effectively and rapidly.

This means that your agents need to be well trained, and properly equipped to perform at their absolute best so that they can provide the client with the necessary clarity, ease, and simplicity that today’s consumers expect.

Also, ensure agents have a complete view of the customer. When they make contact with the client, they need to already have a complete, contextual understanding of the customer’s previous transactions, calls and issues, so that they are well-informed and ideally positioned to reliably solve the customer’s queries.

Focus on getting it right

For most contact centers, delivering the highest level of customer service requires that you properly manage your different channels. If you are going to add chat, whether it be automated or not, you will need to ensure that your agents are skilled in handling or assisting this particular channel. Of course, automated chatbots often require far fewer agent skills.

The trade-off

Ultimately, most contact centers will be unable to effectively offer every contact channel that customers’ demand, as this will dilute resources too much.

The best approach is to concentrate on just a few channels so that you can serve your customers at a high level. In the end, offering a channel like chat as your low friction channel, rather than as just one of several such options, will likely not have a major impact on your customers. They will naturally choose the available channel that they feel will be both easy and effective.

There is no doubt that chat is truly a win-win scenario. From the client side, it gives your customers exactly what they are demanding, namely lower-friction access to fast, personal service.

At the same time, it can be a goldmine for your organization, as it affords the opportunity to gather a host of digital insights that will allow you to craft a smoother customer service experience for both your agents and your clients. Done right, chat will deliver the kind of fast, easy-to-use and simple service that your customers will love.

1 https://www.dimensiondata.com/Global/Downloadable%20Documents/2016%20Global%20Contact%20Centre%20Benchmarking%20Report%20Summary.pdf