What is Candid Corner
Title : Online Customer Service – Introducing Real-Time Messaging For Your Website
Author : Shane O’Leary
Company : Pubble
Live Chat On Your Website
When we visit a website or online store and they have a little bubble in the bottom right hand corner, we think of live chat, right?
In most cases, you’d be right. Live chat has been around for a long time and the concept is spot on! “We are here, chat with us”. When it works, it’s a great experience. However, in reality, how many of us have encountered the following:
“We are offline now, please send us an email”
“You are number 12 in the queue. Your wait time is 7 minutes.”
These are some of the limitations of traditional live chat systems. That’s outside of the expense of providing 24/7 live support. And, why are live chat systems designed around when the agent is free? What about thinking about the customer first?
‘Real-Time’ Messaging Improving Your Sites
Step up real-time messaging. More than likely you already use real-time messaging apps everyday: Facebook Messenger, iMessage, WhatsApp, Viber. Let’s use WhatsApp as an example. If you have a contact on WhatsApp, you can message them whether they are online or not i.e. when it suits you. This is a message, not a chat. Your contact can message you back (when it suits them) and then if you are both online at the same time, it turns into a chat. When it comes to customer service, this is a really important differentiation. Real-time messaging i.e. allowing the customer to ask a question when it suits them changes the customer service landscape. The experience now becomes customer focussed – exactly where it should be.
RTM Is Taking Over
The trend towards messaging is very real. Facebook already announced the integration of Facebook Messenger to its business pages and third party apps. Earlier this year, WhatsApp announced a change to their business model. No more 99c annual fee for consumers. They’re focusing instead on making businesses pay to access their 900 million users. This is very interesting as the trend suggests that in the coming months and years, we’ll see a huge upsurge in customers “messaging” businesses.
Bringing this type of experience to your website is very important. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are being driven by the social and messaging platforms that we use everyday. When we post something on social media, we almost expect instant gratification from our social network. “I updated my profile picture 5 minutes ago and I have 20 likes and 4 comments already. How popular am I?”. This makes us feel important, loved, happy – satisfied if you will. Basic human needs.
How Real-Time Messaging Improves Customer Service
Translate this to online customer service. What expectations are you setting? Does it align with the expectations described above or do you think that your customers have different expectations when it comes to customer service? (They don’t by the way). You want your customers to feel loved and important, right? You want to provide customer satisfaction. Is the following on your site.
“Hey Mr. Customer, send us an e-mail and we’ll aim to reply in 24 hours”.
Excuse me? 24 hours? Hmmm I don’t have an email, but I am on facebook. What do I do now? I know, I’ll go to another website. Afterall, there are lots of choices on the world wide web!
Based on my experience, your solution needs to be: multi-device (desktop, mobile), integrated with social, able to auto-answer FAQ’s & allow easy access to the expertise on the team. Look for solutions that understand that there needs to be a certain amount of automation. This is extremely important when it comes to repetitive questions or out-of-office support when those agents are offline. Consider, how do the systems work in the backend – do they make it easy for the team to communicate with each other in order to answer customer queries?
It’s All About Customer Ease Of Use
I cannot emphasise the following enough: Allow your potential customers to engage with you by making it easy for THEM. Don’t ask them to fill out a contact form just so that they can ask a simple question. You don’t need their mother’s maiden name on their first visit. Engage with them with the minimum of fuss. You can get their details later when they feel more comfortable with you. Give them the option of asking a question when it suits them, not when it suits you. This will make them feel important.
In summary, because of the prevalence of social channels and an ever increasing number of mobile devices, the landscape has changed radically and keeping on top of customer service is a constant challenge. In addition to this, expectations are growing, especially online, in a world where it is extremely easy to connect. The customer service solutions that will thrive in the future will not be based on phone, email, contact forms or live chat but on real-time messaging, social and mobile.
Shane O’Leary is a co-founder of Pubble. Pubble is a messaging platform that simplifies how teams interact with their customers.
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University College Cork Lecturer
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