In today’s environment, customer service is an essential part of any business model. With the myriad of choices and resources at buyer’s fingertips, stakeholders are increasingly investing in their customer service infrastructure in order to stay relevant and get ahead of the competition. That’s where digital customer service enters the picture. If you are asking, “what is digital customer service?” then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will define digital customer service, provide some examples, and then discuss ways in which you can improve your own customer service across the digital space. So, without further ado, let’s dive in.
The most logical definition of digital customer service is the application of meeting customers’ needs across digital channels and platforms. This does not necessarily mean that stakeholders are choosing a certain digital channel to augment, but most likely deciding to add a customer service channel to their existing network. Customer service can take place across a vast array of digital technology, depending on your business model. For some businesses, online chat services may take precedent, while for others, the need for email or social media communication technology may be needed. At the end of the day, digital customer service has the advantage of requiring less commitment and investment in training and infrastructure as traditional customer service strategies.
If you have already begun implementing digital customer service strategies, or are considering implementing them, there are some clear benefits you will be after. While the biggest benefit of digital customer service is offloading phone calls to lower cost channels, there are other benefits, such as reducing the wait time in your customer service queue. Digital customer service channels can drastically cut down on the number of customer service calls you have on your phone network. Instead of your employee sitting on the phone for 30 minutes with one caller, they can answer emails, chats, or texts and resolve considerably more customer service issues. Such a dynamic will increase the work time and efficiency that you pay for, while also ushering a new era of digital customer service that will increase the quality of your brand.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at a few examples of digital customer service channels and what they can do.
Digital Customer Service Channels
Business Text Messaging
One of the most popular forms of digital customer service right now is referred to as business text messaging. This form of SMS text messaging is growing exponentially in popularity and usefulness due to the fact that 66% of consumers prefer text messages over calls. Think about it. People today are using their cell phones more and more, for everything from banking to shopping. Business text messaging gives customers a lightning fast resolution in 25% less time than a phone call or an email. From a managerial perspective, a customer service agent could handle more conversations via SMS than other methods like phone or email. The best part, customer service scores improve by 5 – 10 points when using text messaging compared with phone, email, or chat conversation.
Social Media Messaging
Social media platforms are fast becoming a great way to interact with customers and solve their pain points. It makes sense; your customers are already on social media for a variety of reasons. Why not connect with them where they are most comfortable? Interacting with your customers on social media will not only increase your customers’ comfort level with your business, but it will also allow you to interact with them more easily and more efficiently.
Take Facebook Messenger, with over 1.3B people using Facebook every month, it is no wonder that businesses are turning to the popular social media platform to solve customer service problems. The integration of Facebook and customer service is natural; over 2 billion messages have already been sent between customers and businesses. Facebook isn’t the only social media platform to help you find your customers. Using Twitter’s messaging platform is another great way to increase customer satisfaction scores, as 77% of customers on Twitter who have conversations with retailers feel more positive about the brand afterward. That’s powerful. Finding, interacting, and conversing with your customers in their comfort zones is a great way to get the conversation started…and to keep it going.
Using your website as a portal for customer service issues is a great way to make use of the digital infrastructure you already have in place. You can efficiently meet customers needs by being exactly where they expect you to be, at your digital “house” waiting to talk with them about their needs or concerns. While this feature used to be a high-priced upgrade, it is now considered an essential part of a web presence by 44% of online consumers.
If a customer is browsing your site and has a question, it is much easier to click on a chatbox than get their phone out, find the phone number, and make a call or text. You can offer customer service without having to interrupt the customer experience, a vital distinction between web chat and other methods of communication. As with SMS or social chat, customer service agents can handle multiple conversations. However, this method of customer service is anywhere between 17% – 30% cheaper per message than by phone.
How to Improve Your Digital Customer Service
Now that we’ve looked at a few examples of digital customer service, let’s talk about what you can do to better the digital customer service channels you have in place. Since everyone’s business, market conditions, goals, and budget are different, the best way to approach the improvement of your digital customer service channels is to ask yourself a few questions:
Are you accessible…enough?
When digital customer service is done right, it saves you and your customer both time and money. This is accomplished largely through the automation of routine tasks that were once handled with expensive manual labor. Make sure you are automating every routine task in your customer service pipeline. This will free up labor hours to work for you in another, more profitable area.
Do You Know What You Don’t Know?
In other words, have you researched the latest technologies available to you? Are you sure about all your options? In today’s market, you must always be sure you are as up to date and informed on all your options before you bring to change your business structures. Otherwise, you may find yourself “updating” your channels with outdated technology.
Are you keeping it simple?
As the complexities of the digital space grow, so too do the complexities of the user experience. As you are examining your digital customer service experience, try to keep it as simple as possible. In the world of data privacy and security, remarketing and pop-ups, customers are constantly being bombarded with questions and surveys across website networks. As a company, do your best to keep the variety of vendors to a minimum (a single solution provider is best). Additionally, make sure your solution is applicable across the spectrum of devices; customers expect a seamless experience from mobile to desktop and in-between. This will make your user experience much more enjoyable.
As you begin to investigate your digital customer service strategies and methodologies, remember that the fundamentals of customer service have not changed. People still want to be treated fairly, with respect, and in a professional manner — they just want to get that treatment when and where they want it. As you look to vendors to help you accomplish your customer service goals, look for those can provide all of the things your customers are looking for in a manner that is seamless, fast, and integrated.