As the last year has shown, we’re undergoing a shift in the customer service industry. You’ve heard of the phrase ‘the customer is always right’, but now, the new rule is ‘the customer is always in control’. That’s firmly the motto of many brands who are adapting their customer contact operations to ensure the ball is always in the customer’s court.
At the very core of this customer service innovation is the idea of control. We’re seeing the industry shift away from synchronous live chat messaging – also known as a live person-to-person conversation via a telephone or live chat – towards cross-platform asynchronous engagements. Asynchronous communication works on the premise that both parties can speak and be present at different times, meaning that a customer can pick up and pause a conversation on any platform they please. After all, asynchronous engagements are frequently what we use in our private lives, so why not in business?
Peaks, demands, and power
As customers change the way they behave with brands, retailers are needing to respond. A recent survey found that 87% of customers think brands need to put more effort into providing a seamless experience, and 64% expect to receive real-time assistance regardless of the customer service channel they use. There are a ton of customer engagement and brand innovations underway – personalised offers, irresistible discounts and the like – to provide an exceptional customer experience. However, the difficulty truly lies in meeting the increasing complexity and volatile demand in customer enquiries to keep customers satisfied.
Managing customer enquiries behind the scenes is easier said than done, particularly when peak season strikes. Likewise, an unexpected influx could come out of the blue, just as we saw online retailers bombarded with orders and customer enquiries when the first pandemic lockdown was announced. For multinational brands, timezone considerations and the need for other language capabilities are also often thrown into the mix. For those in charge of call centre workforce optimisation, who are trying to manage a fixed resource model against requests for real-time interactions, it’s their worst nightmare. Likewise, with the majority of customers working a 9-5, synchronous channels – only available during ‘office hours’ make continuous long interactions hard.
In order to battle the vast quantity of enquiries and customer demands, brands may desperately seek to scale uneconomically. Training a new call centre worker can weeks before they are fully ‘live’ and being able to work, which does little for the customers already sat waiting. Likewise, 24-hour contact centre rotas and multilingual capabilities would also need to be considered. Of course, this doesn’t come without considerable cost. In short, synchronous messaging channels such as the typical live chat setup do not provide the agility and flexibility brands now need.
GigCX to the rescue
Moving to asynchronous customer messaging brings customers convenience that is both ‘human’ and empathetic, but on their terms. What brands are realising is that the traditional call centre very much puts the burden onto the customer, and often via one single channel. In a world of retail competition, it’s not the ideal.
When utilizing a ‘GigCX ’customer service model – that is, a customer contact model supported by brand expert freelancers all over the world who can pick up enquiries as and when – new flexibility and agility is available to both customer and service agent. Customers can now talk when they want to not when the Brands have made available their contact centre staff and with GigCX they get a very quick response but with the softened expectation surrounding the universally understood dynamics of asynchronous messaging.
Not only does this give the freedom for the customer to get on with their day and interact with a customer agent at their convenience, but it’s better for brands too. Long gone are the days of battling to staff a physical contact centre. Now, gig customer service agents are available any time, wherever they are in the world, to pick up customer requests on behalf of some of their favourite brands. Likewise, any rush in demand no longer poses a problem – brands can simply source more customer agents from a pool of loyal advocates, who are similarly waiting to quickly pick up some customer contacts on flexible terms.
Async and Gig
Flexibility, scalability, empowered customers, and seamless, quick service is what asynchronous messaging is about. When powered by gig customer service agents, genuine and personalised communications are added into the mix too. If a customer has a specific product issue or query, who better to answer it than an individual who truly knows a brand and its products inside out?
Asynchronous engagements aim to offer a smooth experience for the customer, and this extends to authentic interactions too. There’s nothing all that smooth about dealing with a call centre agent who may not have any relationship with the brand and can be often just trained to communicate from a script. With the flexibility of asynchronous messaging, and the new-age empowered customer, comes an expectation of genuine, authentic experiences to reduce frustration, eliminate customer churn, and in turn, build loyal customers. The platform they choose should no longer be an issue of the customer – it’s now up to brands to keep on the heels of customer demand, wherever it may be.