The simplest definition of digital customer service involves meeting the needs of customers through digital channels — from websites and email messages to text messaging, online chat and social media. Today, most serious companies and organizations have established customer service divisions that devote at least some resources to helping customers through these growing digital channels.
There’s a good reason for this. For one, digital channels often reduce the amount of time it requires a customer to wait for a response. Rather than having to visit a brick-and-mortar location or sit on the phone for ten, twenty, even thirty minutes with a service representative, they can fire off an email, chat message or text message and get a response relatively quickly. For people who just don’t have the time to visit physical locations or sit on the phone twiddling their thumbs, this evolution of digital customer service is a welcome development.
Studies show that customers who can get answers through digital customer service channels tend to feel better about the companies and organizations they interact with. One study, for example, showed that digital customer care can boost customer satisfaction by up to one-third. At the same time, for some companies it can help to reduce costs (perhaps by one-quarter) by eliminating call-center volume. Many industry insiders expect these trends to continue, with more companies putting their efforts behind digital customer care tools and winding down call center and in-person support.
Social media is a huge part of generating interest in digital customer service. Research shows that the percentage of people who use Twitter for customer service purposes — meaning they “tweet” in search of answers about the products they own or want to buy — has grown by about 70 percent in the last few years. There’s no denying that this change in the way people interact with the companies they do business with is having a huge impact on the customer service industry (and social media)!
In a perfect world, every business and organization in the world would be in a position to take advantage of these remarkable changes to customer service. But reality is much different. In fact, most companies simply aren’t in a place where they can maximize customer satisfaction through digital channels.
There are several reasons for this. First, few organizations have detailed strategic programs in place for implementing digital customer service platforms now or in the future, meaning they continue to follow a rather reactionary, or ad-hoc, approach to digital customer service. The result of this lack of preparedness will be missed opportunities, meaning an organization could lose a chance to implement a digital customer service tool that could give it a significant edge over the competition.
Second, many organizations are placing too much emphasis on website-based chat customer service chat support. On the surface, this sounds like a great way to offer consumers answers to their questions. But in reality, few consumers actually use this kind of platform. Instead, research shows consumers prefer to learn more about products through mobile applications, social media and forums. To date, few companies have taken advantage of these emerging market trends.
And so it’s clear that, while many organizations understand the importance of digital customer service platforms, they’re not yet funneling enough resources into channels that consumers actually want to use. Making necessary changes will require every organization that’s serious about digital customer service to create detailed strategies for reaching their consumers through digital channels today and in the near and distant futures.