What Is the Impact of Digitalization on Customer Service?

Modern customer engagement continues to shift as digitalization changes consumer habits. Customers no longer make contact with companies on a channel or two. More and more customers are using multiple digital channels, including numerous social media platforms, when they seek customer service. Essentially, they want an omnichannel experience that allows them to contact brands where and when they want. They have more expectations and demands, and they wish for brands to contact them on their preferred channels. All of these changing consumer habits are therefore feeding the rise of customer journey digitalization and brand digitalization. Brands, like their customers, need to be accessible on numerous digital platforms.

And what happens when brands don’t meet these customer expectations? Companies will feel the customer churn. Customers want to be able to choose their channels, so if they are unable to contact a company on their favorite channel, this can impact their satisfaction. Less satisfied customers simply translate into eventual churn. To win customer loyalty and acquire new customers, brands must therefore increase the number of channels they use—including both physical and digital channels—but pay close attention not to use a channel just because it is trendy. Every channel should be serviced properly so that customers have a smooth omnichannel experience at all times. Indeed, choosing channels should be part of a strategy that varies depending on customer needs. Choose the channels that best fit your customer base, even if it means choosing less but choosing wisely for a stronger customer engagement strategy.

Omnichannel engagement has become social and permanent

Customers interact digitally, and they are mostly communicating on social media. According to Infobip, 41% of customers expect live chat features from a website, while 79% of customers say they prefer live chat versus other channel types when they are in the early phase of discovering a brand. From now until 2025, it is believed that 70% of customers will prefer to use social media channels. In addition, a Facebook IQ study found that more than 76% of customers send messages to brands using Facebook Messenger.

This demand for social media engagement is a benefit for companies, as these social channels are advantageous when used correctly. As Infobip further shares, WhatsApp has an open rate that is 280% higher than email, and 70% of WhatsApp users check the platform daily. Furthermore, Facebook Messenger has an open rate of 70%. With this active social channel use, brands need to ensure service continuity. When agents are unavailable, customers should be able to use digital channels and automated self-service—such as chatbots—to meet their goals when it is the best time for them as customers. Brands must therefore be ready anytime and anywhere—and even on any device—in order to meet customer expectations. Offering self-service options on all channels is absolutely essential to making this happen.

In addition, customers expect these interactions to be highly personalized. Customers are evolving in the ME! Economy, as presented by Linda Bernardi: ‘ME! represents the personalization of goods and services to uniquely meet the desires of each individual consumer, delight the consumer, and most importantly, begin to predict desired goods and services before the individual is even aware of such preferences.’ They do not just want simple answers to questions; they want personalized recommendations and content that appeals to their tastes and needs. By offering targeted and meaningful experiences at every step of the customer journey—on the customer’s preferred channel—brands can win customer loyalty.

The challenges of using so many channels

With so many digital channels in use, brands face many challenges:

Offering a seamless omnichannel experience

One main challenge lies in delivering a seamless omnichannel experience of the same quality—no matter which channel is used. For example, one of the main obstacles customers face when switching channels is having to repeat information. Companies must convey all customer information smoothly across channels, and from one agent to another, so that the customer never has to start from the beginning. Indeed, UC Today states that 9 out of 10 customers want an omnichannel experience with seamless customer service between communication channels. In addition, Dimensional Research points out that 72% of customers say that when they contact customer service, they expect an agent to know who they are, know what they have bought in the past, and have information about their previous interactions.

Offering quality service

Another major challenge lies in offering quality service on every channel. Channels need to offer service when it is needed most, and unwanted channels are useless to driving customer satisfaction. For example, offering self-service through chatbots that do not work correctly only causes frustration, and forcing customers to call you when they may prefer to send messages also drives them away. Chatbots in particular can be a great advantage for brands as they drive self-service for simple requests, allow agents to focus on more complex tasks, and lower operational costs. Indeed, the use of a chatbot is an efficient way to reduce costs for your customer service and to increase productivity. Among others, it increases first contact resolution, has a lower maintenance and operating cost, and helps sales conversions. According to Forester, customers who use live chat are 2.8 times more likely to convert. Those are some of the reasons to use a chatbot.

However, they must be properly configured in advance and offer the option of connecting the customer to a human agent if a problem becomes too complex. MIT Technology Review states that 90% of businesses report faster complaint resolution when chatbots are used. But take caution as well: Aspect Consumer Experience Index found that 86% of customers feel that there should be an option to connect with an agent when communicating with a chatbot.

Agent training and organization

Training agents to manage a great omnichannel experience has two specific challenges in itself. For one, brands must succeed in training agents to use new channels correctly. Not only do they need to be comfortable with all operational aspects of a channel, but they need to understand the proper tone to use. For example, social media channels have a more informal conversational style compared to email.

The other challenge lies in self-service. When digital channels are used for self-service, the questions routed to agents become increasingly complex. Companies must learn to train agents to handle these difficult questions by increasing their skills. Yet, companies must also make sure to keep agents satisfied and motivated. Business 2 Community states that 80% of the questions support agents receive are basic ones. These questions should therefore be diverted to chatbots so that agents can handle the rest. Listening to your agents’ feedbacks and experiences will help you monitored the right questions to be answered by the chatbot and allows your contact center agents to answered second rank questions. Giving more complex tasks to resolve and more autonomy to your agents will empower them.

Lastly, whenever a company chooses to add channels, agent organization changes. Agents may be asked to move to new channels or take on additional ones, which requires supporting them and training them throughout the transition.

How can you handle the increasing number of channels?

It is important to have a solution that allows you to manage customer service in a seamless and unified manner. A seamless omnichannel solution will allow you to connect with your customers easily as a CRM centralizes all of the information needed for agents to give customers a smooth and personalized experience.

To support you in these challenges, Vocalcom, a global provider of cloud contact center and customer engagement management solutions, partnered with Infobip, a global cloud communication platform and leader in omnichannel engagement, to strengthen its strategic positioning with a complete social messaging offer. The advanced Vocalcom contact center solution, combined with the Infobip digital offer, will revolutionize your customer communication. This has led to the creation of the Hermes Digital Journey, powered by Infobip, a new brick of the Hermes360 and a proactive omnichannel customer engagement solution that combines social media and its historical expertise: customer knowledge, data management, and voice.

It can be difficult to manage multiple providers as the delivery process is long, complex, and hard to support. Through Vocalcom’s partnership with Infobip, we bring you the best-in-class omnichannel experience. The solution combines Infobip social channels with the Vocalcom digital and voice contact center solution—the best on the market—to facilitate the creation of targeted customer journeys. You can engage your customers on the right channel at the right time and with the right message. The solution allows your company to:

  • Accelerate the digital transformation of your customer service by regrouping your different channels within the Hermes 360 solution. You can adapt to your customers by offering them, at any time, the channel they prefer : email, voice, callback, live chat, Twitter, Apple Messages, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and others.
  • Be accessible: Your customers will contact you easily, thanks to the implementation of main digital channels You will increase your opening hours thanks to AI and intelligent chatbots to offer answers to simple issues, 24/7. Your reachability will also increase by more than 90%.
  • Offer continuous service for greater satisfaction. Implement routing toward a digital channel or directing to a chatbot to ensure your services when your teams are unavailable or outside opening hours.
  • Engage your customers proactively by contacting them at the right time and on the right channel with the most relevant information. On one hand, all brands wish to engage their customers proactively to anticipate their needs and manage costs. On the other hand, consumers and lawmakers value individual privacy and personal data. This dilemma strongly complicates the implementation of proactive engagement strategies. With Vocalcom Hermes Digital Journey, you are choosing a relevant and creative combination of inbound and outbound channels and creating predictive engagement strategies to change intrusion into consent.

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