Findings of consumer survey
Driven by millennials and Gen Z consumers, messaging is fast becoming a popular channel for B2C customer service. We commissioned YouGov, a leading market research agency, to survey US and UK consumers to learn what consumers like and not like about customer support messaging. Here is what they found, based on responses from 1777 consumers, who had messaged a business for customer service in the last 12 months:
When asked about their struggles when messaging businesses for customer service:
• 43% hated repeating information across agents or when escalating to other channels;
• 28% struggled with the speed of response; and
• 23% were stumped by the relevance of response.
Another interesting and somewhat expected finding was the higher adoption of messaging for customer service among younger consumers. The survey found:
• 39% adoption for the 18-34 age group;
• 32% for the 35-54 age group; and
• 20% for the 55+ age group.
Younger consumers had a more positive view of messaging as a customer service channel compared to other contact channels like web chat, email or phone.
• 37% in the 18-34 age group were more satisfied with messaging than other contact channels; versus
• 23% in the 35-54 age group; and only
• 18% in the 55+ age group.
The US is ahead of the UK in adoption:
• 33% in the US versus 23% in the UK, based on responses from 3873 US consumers and 2077 UK consumers. This is perhaps due to the higher penetration of smartphones in the US at 81% versus 76% in the UK, according to Pew Research
Takeaways for businesses
1. Say no to customer silos: This is the biggest issue for customers, where they need to repeat information and context when they switch from messaging to a non-messaging channel or from a chatbot conversation to a human agent. Do not create yet another silo with messaging! Look for a customer engagement solution that not only offers rich capabilities for messaging but also enables seamless cross-touchpoint journeys for consumers. Cross-touchpoint journeys not only include journeys that span multiple interaction channels but also automated and human-assisted touchpoints, messaging handled by chatbots versus humans, for example.
2. Say no to agent silos, too: While customer engagement silos have received some attention, agent silos have been largely ignored. Per Gartner, agents have to navigate an average of over 8 applications to handle customer queries, having to connect the dots when the customer is on the line. The result? They wind up staring at the screen and not solving, often improvising to provide a dubious answer, which, in turn, leads to repeat customer calls and angry customers. No wonder 84% of contact center agents think that their desktop tools do not help them resolve customer issues, per research, conducted by CEB (now Gartner). Revisit your agent experience strategy to make sure that their desktop is digital-first and omnichannel with push-button access to conversational guidance for answers and processes for problem resolution and providing advice. Conversational guidance is critical to improving relevance of response, which was one of the top three hurdles, mentioned by consumers in our research.
3. Know your customer: Make sure to understand who your customer is and what your target markets are both demographically and geographically. The younger your customer, the more important it is to prioritize messaging over other channels. Moreover, geographic breakdowns of messaging adoption are widely available. It would also make sense to look at adoption in your target geographies as you formulate your service channel strategy.
4. Leverage chatbots to scale and wow: Messaging responses can be handled by chatbots, where the customer query is simply to moderately complex. Chatbots can help you address responsiveness and scale at the same time, while creating “wow” in the experience, when done right. Make sure your chatbot can escalate with context to a human agent when it gets stuck or when the customer chooses to do so. This calls for a unified, omnichannel customer engagement platform, including the agent desktop.
You can find a more comprehensive set of best practices in a related article “Customer Service Messaging: From Mess to Mastery”.