In considering how to move forward with formulating strategy for digital customer service, it’s important for companies to understand what is driving the rising demand for customer service over digital channels. Consumers aren’t just switching to digital channels because they like technology. So what exactly is driving this change?
Why your customers like digital communication
The rise in preference for consumers to reach out to businesses via digital channels has been driven by more than just the increasing accessibility of digital communications technology. Increasingly, changes in technology are changing how people live their lives. According to Psychology Today, the prevalence of digital communication has contributed to an erosion of the firm boundary that used to exist between personal life and work. This means that for many, the clear boundaries that used to exist between “time for personal business” and “time for work business” are less defined than they used to be.
In the face of this rising challenge, it’s no wonder that consumers increasingly want to do business with companies that will allow them to communicate digitally! Most digital customer service channels are asynchronous, which fits the growing consumer preference for asynchronous communication.
What do we mean when we talk about asynchronous versus synchronous communication?
- Synchronous communication is communication that happens concurrently for all involved parties – such as face-to-face communication, or communication over channels like phone or video conference. I talk, then you talk, then I talk – and the nature of the interaction requires both parties to be simultaneously involved and paying attention at the same time.
- Asynchronous communication is communication that happens sequentially, typically through an exchange of messages as participants read and respond to prior messages according to their own schedule, and not in coordination with the schedules of other participants. This includes any sort of instant messaging (Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Twitter DM, SMS, etc), as well as live chat or email.
The differences between these two communication strategies have become crucial for businesses looking to adapt to changing customer communication preferences. For instance:
Often, if your customer has a problem with your service that they need to resolve, asking them to contact you via phone can be a major undertaking – especially if the hours your contact staff are available by phone are limited. Your customer then needs to find or make time in their day that is unoccupied by more pressing tasks to call your company, wait on hold, explain their difficulty, perhaps get transferred to a few different people, and provide necessary information to get their difficulty resolved.
Frustratingly, if the time of the interaction exceeds the time your customer has available for that interaction, your customer has to end the call. From there, the best-case scenario is that they call back later and go through the whole process again – which will increase their level of dissatisfaction in addition to wasting your contact staff’s time on a second interaction for the same original problem. The worst case is that they decide not to bother and switch to a different provider altogether!
So what are the benefits of asynchronous communication for customer service?
1. It allows for longer periods of time to focus on more important tasks
Offering customer service through asynchronous communication channels empowers your customers to get assistance with their issues in ways that fit around their schedule; by de-coupling the customer service interaction from the requirement that customers be available to wait for you to help them in real time, your customer is able to devote their time and attention to the things that really matter to them.
2. It creates a complete record of the interaction that can be referenced later
One of the most common customer service complaints that consumers have is the need to repeat information to multiple people, sometimes across multiple interactions, in order to get their complaints resolved.
Because asynchronous communication happens via text, when properly integrated with CRM, it will necessarily will provide you with a complete record of customer interactions that can be referenced later, so that no matter who a customer talks to, the agent currently assisting them will be able to have a full picture of that customer’s situation. This helps your agents to more fully assist your customers with their needs while also preventing customers from the aggravation of needing to repeat themselves.
3. It gives your customer freedom of movement
By allowing your customer to communicate with your company via asynchronous channels, you open up their ability to resolve service issues while they are on the go, from any location and from any device. Rather than needing to wait until they are in the office, so that they will be next to their landline or computer (etc), customers can initiate a conversation without feeling pressured to remain in that location until the transaction is complete. They can continue the interaction on their own time from whichever device makes the most sense until the difficulty is resolved.
The benefits of asynchronous communication, summarized:
For more information on the benefits of digital messaging for your business, click here to see a preview of our whitepaper: Digital Messaging for Business in 2018.