By Kevin Rubin
The way that consumers and companies communicate with each other has undergone a drastic change in recent years. For instance, last year former pro football player Steve Gleason tweeted Southwest Airlines that some of the airline’s employees were unwilling to accommodate customers like him who need to fly with power wheelchairs and specialty equipment. Southwest responded quickly and apologetically to Steve, and other Twitter users took note.
As technologies like smartphones and social media platforms like Twitter have become a part of people’s daily lives, consumers have come to expect businesses of all sizes to be open to communicating with them via these modern channels. Clear and effective communication is key to maintaining any kind of relationship, personal or professional. So catering to your customers’ preferences in terms of which methods they want to use to connect with you is paramount to your organization’s overall success.
If you want to stay ahead of the competition, it’s time to embrace new technologies that allow you to talk to customers on their terms.
The growing importance of customer experience and digital transformation
The experience customers have when they engage with customer service reps is becoming increasingly significant for businesses of all sizes and across all industries. Analyst firm Gartner has declared customer experience (CX) “the new marketing battlefront.” The 2017 Gartner Customer Experience in Marketing Survey found the majority (upwards of two-thirds) of marketers responsible for CX reported that their companies compete largely based on that factor.
The interactions people have when they reach out to you with a question or problem are a big part of CX, and a system where customers’ only option is to call in or wait a long time for a response isn’t ideal. In fact, 44% of Americans would rather clean a bathroom for half an hour than spend 30 minutes on hold with customer service, according to survey data released by Helpshift last year. The survey also found that 76% would prefer to get customer support via chat-based messaging if they were guaranteed to get an immediate response.
Although many people still prefer to call customer service, more people (i.e., millennials and Gen Z) see chatbots and instant messaging as normal methods of communication. This trend will likely continue as individuals who grew up during the digital age come to represent a larger percentage of American consumers.
Businesses will need to adapt and undergo digital transformation—the process of leveraging new technologies to improve business processes and enhance CX—to stay afloat. Failing to accommodate customers’ desires for alternate communication channels will frustrate them and inspire them to turn to competitors willing to oblige them.
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How cloud-based solutions can help you deliver exceptional customer service
For organizations looking to modernize how they connect with clients, cloud-based products like Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) have emerged as useful solutions that support communication across various channels like texting, email, and instant messaging. These platforms—which consist of software delivered over the internet by cloud providers—allow customers to reach you using their preferred method, leading to a better and more personalized experience with customer service.