Whether you’re a small business or a global corporation, all businesses must invest in customer service in the digital age. As businesses grow, they need to efficiently manage their incoming communication volume and growing range of communication channels. While in-house or outsourced call centers were once the only option, digital customer service continues to evolve including a mix of email, SMS, social media, chatbots, LED display boards, and more.
Call Centers Remain Effective
Call centers remain a popular option, with the largest challenges being rapid routing, short wait times, and informed service agents. Many consumers like having a number they can call, but increasingly don’t have time to waste. Call centers are most effective when they also offer a live chat alternative and prioritize the below strategies:
- The call tree is efficient, quickly routing callers to the correct department.
- Call center teams are trained in specialty service areas and for the individual clients they serve.
- The in-house or outsourced team is well-trained in their service area.
- Teams are cross-trained and/or calls are split between call centers when call volumes are high.
- There are options other than waiting on hold, such as live chat or auto call back when it is the customer’s turn.
- Consumers remain empowered to speak directly with a specific store location, not just given access to the call center.
- There is a post-call follow up, even if only an automated email or text—maybe even a feedback survey.
- There is an option to follow-up on open claims with the same agent, even if only via email.
- Consumers have the ability to perform a variety of functions, such as paying bills over the phone or online.
- Utilize advanced data analytics to optimize performance, minimize bottlenecks, and identify where training must be improved.
Demographic-Specific Communication Channels Must Be Prioritized
The younger your demographic, the less likely they are to wait on hold when a question or concern arises. In fact, Generation Z, who are those born between 1997 and 2015, have a 60 percent chance of hanging up if placed on hold for more than 45 seconds. They want to talk on the phone to resolve things such as issues with their smartphone, electronic devices, cable, gas, or other utilities—but they aren’t particularly patient. In terms of interacting with your call center agents, they are 30 percent less likely to be kind or professional—particularly if their concern is not rapidly resolved or requires being transferred again.
However, age is far from the only factor that determines the communication channels your audience prefers. If you serve a variety of demographics, additional communication channels may be required. At the very least, your website must have an email address or contact form and a phone number. This means you must do research to determine what is most convenient for them. For example, your audience may spend more time on Facebook than they do Twitter, or vice-versa—so you may not require both social media channels for marketing or communication.
For optimal consumer retention, continued market research for preferred communication channels is required. A simple consumer survey can keep you apprised.
Rapid Response Regardless Of The Communication Channel
We live in a day and age of instant gratification where consumers want their answer now. Even if they are emailing you after hours or in the middle of the night, they expect some type of response—if only an automated email stating that you have received their outreach and when they can expect a response.
An increasing number of companies utilize AI chatbots, which are so “smart” and personable, that most consumers don’t realize they aren’t chatting with a live person. These chatbots can be placed on your website, integrated with your social media messaging, or utilized via SMS. When the chatbot can’t resolve a question, it will guide the consumer to their next steps—maybe passing their phone number or email address on to a live agent.
Automated, Integrated, And Cohesive Communication
Digital communication options were impressive pre-pandemic, but businesses across every industry expanded their options during the pandemic. Even small businesses or businesses such as healthcare providers who place a high priority on live interaction were required to expand their options, often utilizing apps, digital scheduling tools, LED display message boards, and automated messaging software as part of their remote services or social distancing protocols. Some of these solutions will fade away as safety increases, but many deliver enough efficiencies that businesses will continue to use them post-pandemic. This includes:
- Automated communication that utilizes digital marketing and data analytics to segment consumers into hyper-targeted demographics is essential. This requires more work up front, but personalizes marketing and digital communication—rapidly improving communication and consumer retention.
- Any combination of integrated CRMs, sales software, social media management tools, marketing software, and email automation is required of all businesses. Some companies even have proprietary software built.
- With an increasing number of communication channels to manage, we must not drop the ball. Even seemingly small things, such as changing your operating hours on your brick and mortar storefront display and all on online channels—your website, social media channels, online review sites, Google My Business, etc.
Cross-Channel Communications Tracking
Your CRM should track the different ways individual consumers engage with your organization. For example, if they called once 12 months ago, emailed once 6 months ago, and engaged via SMS three times in the last week—you now know that SMS is their preference. Yes, you may continue to email them monthly, but now you can send targeted discounts, communication, and reminders via email.
In addition to cross-channel communication, utilize your brick and mortar tools to share your expanded communication options. For example, an HD or scrolling LED display boards to share your expanded communication options. Something as simple as “Live Chat Now Available On Our Website” or an announcement or reminder that you have a proprietary product or service app. For example, “Download Our App To Place Your Order Remotely”.
In Need Of New LED Display Boards?
The need for LED display message boards continues to increase as they can be viewed from a distance and generate 400% more engagement than a printed poster or sign. Reach out to Mega LED Technology today to explore your options!