You read that statistic correctly: 77% of consumers under 25 say that chatbots are helpful, according to Kustomer’s own survey data. What does this mean for the future of customer experience channels? It means that customers today have more support platforms to choose from than ever before and companies have to evolve in coordination with their customers’ expectations.
79% of customer experience (CX) professionals think the role of customer service to fuel business growth will become more important over the next three years. The truth is that, now more than ever, growth and profitability are directly tied to CX strategy and a company’s ability to support their customers.
The Future of Customer Experience Channels
CX is evolving faster than ever. Looking to the future of customer experience means shifting focus towards differentiation using tools you already have and adding in new tools where your customers demand them. Today’s consumers expect a high level of customer support and they expect it on multiple channels. Kustomer research found that CX professionals believe live chat (79%), social messaging (72%) and SMS (56%) will become more popular in the next three years. Wondering how you can incorporate new channels into your CX strategy while keeping things personalized and semi-automated? Let’s talk through three rising customer support platforms: SMS, social messaging and live chat.
SMS customer support means support via text messaging or apps like WhatsApp. While this support style requires no face-to-face interaction, its convenience and reliability has led it to become an incredibly popular virtual support option. The future of customer experience is meeting your customer where they’re at – and that is on their mobile devices. According to GigaOm, text messages have a 98% open rate, a significant increase from emails which only have a 22% open rate.
Benefits of SMS Customer Support
There is a clear demand for text-based customer support. Modern customer experience channels can provide consumers with the ability to communicate without picking up a telephone and waiting on hold. Nearly 52% of customers would prefer to text a customer support agent (over their current preferred mode of communication). Plus, 81% of CX organizations report that reducing wait times is an extremely important priority to achieve within the next three years.
SMS is significantly less costly than routing all support inquiries to a call center. A Forrester study shows that on average a customer service phone call costs $16. An entire SMS thread between agent and customer costs between $1 and $6. The amount of time spent on each chat is much lower than other channels. With chat, an agent can multitask, handling multiple inquiries simultaneously.
Not only do your operating costs dwindle with SMS support, but your labor efficiency skyrockets. A single phone call with a customer can cost an agent precious time that could be better used to service multiple customers via text. Plus, the beauty of SMS is the seamless integration of automation. Whether it’s a simple SMS appointment reminder or an AI-powered conversation, automation can save your agents time and your company money.
The future of customer experience should be dictated by the customers’ needs. This is where SMS comes in. Text messages are a great means for providing an opportunity to provide feedback. Since customers are already on their mobile devices, opening text messages (recall the 98% open rate!), it’s a great way to get your call for feedback in front of them.
An omnichannel approach that still offers voice as a channel will appeal to older generations while allowing you to cater to the younger generation customers who will appreciate the integration of SMS support.
Over the last few years, companies have realized the rising value of social media. In 2022, US social commerce sales are expected to reach $45.74 billion, with more than a half of the country’s adults making a purchase on social media. Not only can you provide an organic view of your company, as well as up-to-date news, but social media channels provide companies with the ability to engage with customers on a one-on-one basis via platform-specific direct messaging.
Proactivity is key when it comes to social media and the future of customer experience. Digital-first consumers want to converse with your business at every stage of the funnel, and the easier you can make it for them to do so on the platform of their choice, the more likely they are to exhibit loyalty. As customers visit your brand’s profile, they’re greeted with posts, reviews and comments, all to be used as information throughout their purchasing decision.
In terms of post-purchase support, it’s becoming best practice to create customer support-specific channels for consumers to reach on social media. Plus, it shows them that you are using an omnichannel approach, and are willing to meet your customers where they feel most comfortable.
Social platforms allow you to shape your brand’s perception. Platforms like Facebook are rewarding active and communicative companies with responsiveness badges. Not only do these badges show your commitment to good customer support, they encourage users to utilize social messaging for support. Social channels also allow for honest feedback in the form of reviews, accessible to any viewer on your profile. Whether good or bad, social media reviews are one of the most organic, honest ways for customers to gain insight into your brand.
Social media listening is a critical tool in your brand’s toolbelt. By keeping an ear to the ground and staying on top of conversations about your company on social, your customer support agents more easily predict what inquiries or issues will come their way and prepare for how to deal with them.
Social media is a powerful tool that reaches far beyond just information sharing. Integrating social messaging into your CX strategy is a great way to meet consumers where they prefer and deliver the quick and convenient experience they now expect.
Regardless of your other channels, your brand website will always be a primary resource for current and prospective customers to gain information or contact you. With the increasing demand for virtual support options, putting your website to work with a live chat feature is another critical piece of the future of customer experience.
Live chat helps resolve customer issues more efficiently. Many customers may have questions about policies or products when doing business online, and the easier businesses can make it to get those questions answered, the more likely they are to complete their purchase instead of abandoning their carts. For so many customers, their frustration stems from an inability to connect with another human for support. Live chat is a low cost, easy to use solution that benefits the agent and customer.
Live Chat vs. Automated Chatbots
Modern customers increasingly find email and voice support to be too slow. Live chat allows your agents to chat 1-on-1 with a customer via a widget built into your website. AI-powered, automated chatbots can be used to collect initial information, provide responses to simple questions, and even complete standard tasks like initiating a return or answering an order status question. While this is valuable in certain situations, live chat aids in situations where a customer needs individualized support and attention from a real person. This instantaneous support has shown to have a 48% increase in revenue per chat hour.
A Peek Into The Next Three Years of CX
Kustomer’s 2022 CX Trends & Predictions Guide gives a glimpse into the next three years of customer experience. While customer expectations and demands are constantly evolving, staying on top of trends and CX professionals’ insights is critical to staying on top of your customer support game.
Here are some top predictions for trends to come from CX professionals:
- 33% say we will be able to service customers on any and all channels
- 24% say we will have a 360-degree view of the customer
- 43% says customers will prefer to use self-service options for most inquiries
Looking to step up your CX journey? Download Kustomer’s guide to Delivering Data-Driven Personalized Support at Scale.