A new study commissioned by Nuance shows that each year 90% of US consumers are wasting a day “on hold”. That’s 24 hours which could be used for so many things, all better than holding a phone to your ear. Our survey respondents said they
- would spend more time with family (37%)
- would get more done at work (25%)
- would exercise more (18%)
- would sleep more (17%)
Personally, I would read an entire book from start to finish. But no matter what it is that you would do instead, how can organizations actually give consumers the time to do whatever they want, instead of sitting on the phone?
Based on our survey results 78.8% of consumers between ages 18-34 prefer to contact companies using channels other than a traditional phone call, with over 55% preferring to use a form of messaging to communicate with companies. Messaging channels seem to be the new trend when it comes to customer engagement, but before throwing out all the “old technology”, here are a few things to consider.
Tell your customers about your messaging channels and transition them seamlessly
How can customers know to use messaging channels like SMS or your app to connect with you if you don’t inform them? The majority of consumers is still calling in, so tell them about the new opportunity right in the IVR. But give them a choice; don’t force them to do something with which they might not be comfortable. Allow them to stay on hold, tell them the approximate wait time and offer them an SMS engagement as an alternative that gives them immediate access to a chat agent. Then, when they transfer from the IVR to an SMS conversation, ensure your agents know what the customer is inquiring and continue the conversation versus letting them start over.
Give your customers a choice
Just because you can offer your customers messaging doesn’t mean you should every time. Make sure it is the right channel for that moment, and consider the use cases in which a call or a store visit might make more sense. For example, if you’re dealing with a long-time business customer who has a question about portfolios, don’t let them deal with an FAQ bot, but offer a call or a video chat instead.
Connect the dots so your customers don’t have to
Consumers are using different channels throughout their journey. Depending on their stage of the buying cycle, they might check out your social media channels, download your app, walk into a store, etc. Having historical information at the ready helps the agent (whether automated or human) to give answers in context. This in turn allows your customers to spend time on finding the best product or plan versus repeating their intent over and over again.
React to your customer immediately
Messaging is great. It allows the consumer to go on with their day and get their answer moments, hours or days later. Unfortunately for the consumer it also allows organizations to let them wait – not a great experience, considering 74% of survey respondents want to hear back from a company within an hour of when they messaged. We understand that agents are not always available, but there are other ways of acknowledging an incoming message, starting with a simple auto response or, a little more elegant, by using a virtual assistant to help answer simple questions, collect information upfront and then route the incoming message to the agent with the right skillset, which allows first-contact resolution.
It all sounds more complicated than it actually is. The most important part is to think about messaging channels as one option in your customer engagement strategy. By including messaging channels, you enable your customers to get to their answers sooner, help your contact center to work more efficiently and create a great customer-centric experience everyone will love.