Digital transformation is advancing at breakneck speed, helping businesses become more competitive, resilient and profitable. In fact, a recent Deloitte survey found 69% of surveyed leaders plan to increase their financial commitments to digital transformation, particularly in response to the pandemic. With the pandemic serving as a forcing function to modernize technologies and strategies, businesses now recognize that many of their legacy systems and methods are far too outdated and plan to make investments to meet the needs of digital business today.
This is especially true in the way businesses communicate with their customers. No longer satisfied with hours-long phone hold times or waiting five days to hear back from a business, customers are demanding more from the places they spend their money—more personal, friendly and convenient interactions. These increased expectations have put businesses at a crossroads. Either evolve the way they talk to their customers or lose business.
This evolution is pointing toward a conversational future, where the way consumers use messaging to talk to friends or colleagues is also becoming the preferred channel they use to talk to businesses. The movement toward conversational experiences is undeniable, and it’s poised to become the primary way that businesses support their customers.
What is conversational support?
In an increasingly competitive landscape, businesses are under more pressure to provide a differentiated customer experience. As a result, customer support is becoming an even stronger focus for companies large and small. The ability to build strong and lasting customer relationships is becoming priority #1 for many businesses, but they face increased expectations from their customers. They are no longer tolerant of mediocre support experiences; they expect fast, effective and personalized interactions that mirror the instantaneous gratification they experience with technology in their daily lives. This puts pressure on support teams, who don’t have the right resources or support themselves to keep up with the scale and personalized demands of customers.
All of these dynamics make a shift to conversational support, which uses messaging, bots and humans working in tandem to deliver customer support capabilities, no longer a “nice-to-have,” but rather a business-critical strategy. It’s evident that the old ways of building and nurturing customer relationships don’t work anymore, with emails and online forms feeling slow and impersonal, and support teams can’t be forced to choose between optimizing for scale or optimizing for great customer experiences.
Conversational support lets teams have personalized and convenient support conversations with their customers—in real-time or asynchronous, and always contextual to deliver a rich customer experience. Customers benefit from better support experiences, and businesses benefit from more team efficiency.
How to deliver conversational support
Support teams are best equipped to deliver conversational support when they follow a funnel structure that combines proactive, self-serve and human support capabilities Here’s what this looks like in practice:
● The top of the funnel begins with proactive support, which means sending messages to onboard and guide new customers or answer questions before customers ask them. Tools like a business messenger for in-app and outbound messages or interactive product tours can help businesses deliver proactive support.
● The next level in the funnel is self-serve support, which reduces support costs by automatically resolving simple, common or repetitive customer questions. Chatbots and help center content like FAQs are essential in this layer. Self-serve support empowers customers to help themselves right in the moment, which meets the need to provide customers with fast and accurate responses and frees up time for support teams.
● The human support layer is next. We know technology can help support teams, but humans are critical to providing support experiences, especially because they’re best suited for high-value conversations or complex questions. This part of the funnel ensures your team can focus on conversations that add real value.
Conversational support delivers key capabilities that support leaders want, and when implemented, the results speak for themselves, including higher CSAT scores, faster response times, shorter resolution times and higher team efficiency gains. In fact, a recent survey found that support leaders say the main business benefits of conversational support include improved customer retention, increased business efficiency and enhanced customer satisfaction. This is in addition to many other benefits teams experience, including accelerated customer acquisition, increased return on investment and improved support team efficiency.
While we’ve seen an increased emphasis on improving the customer experience for some time now, the recent investment into digital transformation has really put CX evolution at the forefront of business leaders’ minds. Customer support is an essential part of a business’ overall customer experience strategy and critical to long-term business success. Businesses must be equipped with the tools and strategies they need to ensure they can build better customer relationships and business resiliency through conversational support.