Let's talk about conversational customer service

In the age of instant gratification and one-click check-outs, the expectation from tech-savvy consumers is continuously on the rise. But trying to communicate with a brand often feels like taking a step back in time. For example, navigating complex call centre phone menus only to hear the message repeatedly, "your call is important to us," for an hour is a frustrating experience that nobody wants to repeat.

A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. But many brands run the risk of being left behind by sending out generic messages from a do-not-reply email address. If you are lucky enough to find a support email, replies have gone from days to weeks due to businesses reducing the number of support agents.

After 18 months of a global pandemic, most would admit that they are not as patient as they were a few years ago.

Call scripts, email templates, support ticket numbers join a long list of frustrations when searching for help or a quick answer to a question. As a result, many are increasingly moving away from brands that offer poor customer experiences.

Consumers are seamlessly drifting between messaging apps on multiple devices as they converse with friends, family, colleagues, and even brands. These platforms are ingrained in every aspect of our lives, from the infamous What's App group chats to an increasing number of social apps to conventional SMS messages. Businesses in a diverse range of industries all share the same challenge of winning the hearts of their audience through customer experience.

Replacing support tickets with conversations

The support ticket procedure often dehumanizes consumers and treats them as just another number from a long line of inconveniences. Waiting on hold or for an email response to a support ticket that might never arrive creates friction. But when you remove these obstacles, the consumer gets a better experience.

The preferred methods of contact of customers are often SMS, chat, or social media. Why?

Because they typically result in an answer or solution in less than a day. Rather than leaving loyal customers feeling unsatisfied and angry, there is an alternative. Omnichannel contact centre platforms play a critical role in helping brands exceed the expectations of digital natives whose standard expectation is an immediate answer to their questions.

There is no avoiding the fact that customers are already communicating via multiple channels. It's not uncommon for customers to start a conversation on Facebook Messenger on a tablet and follow up with a phone call later. Unlocking insights from every communication is no longer just a nice to have; it's table stakes.

Conversational engagement experiences

Do you genuinely know who your customers are and their communication preferences? For example, digital natives are increasingly finding that typing out long messages is far too time-consuming and will turn to video chat or other methods that use voice capabilities.

There are many ways for brands to check in and start a conversation with their audience. Conversational customer engagement content also comes in many forms, such as surveys, proactive help, or even a promotional code that would nudge the customer to complete the purchase of the item that was left abandoned in their virtual shopping cart.

Improving customer service with conversational AI

Conversational AI enables conversations at scale in a more automated way. Brands don't have to sit listening to 500,000 customer conversations that happen within their organization every day. Instead, technology can scan for sentiment, identify outliers, both positive or negative, to enable teams to understand and resolve the bigger problems. The chatbots and voice assistants that customers converse with will also better understand your customer's preferences to serve them better.

The challenge is to connect the dots of the entire customer journey between digital research and discovery in everything from Facebook and Google to the brand's website. Only then can teams seamlessly bring experiences together while also developing a better understanding of buying behaviour.

If a customer must reintroduce themself and the purpose of their contact on every channel, your brand is failing.

Identifying the exact moment consumers reached out for assistance, what they talked about and when they switched from the digital channel to a live expert can offer powerful insights.

Lousy customer service has always driven away customers and impacted the revenue of businesses. However, in an increasingly automated world, it's human conversations and authentic customer relationships rather than sterile interactions that build a communication formula capable of opening consumers' hearts, minds, and mobile wallets.

Designing omnichannel customer experiences aligned with multiple channels in real-time is just the beginning of a conversation-centric approach. Contrary to popular opinion, technology is not killing the art of conversation. Instead, it's helping businesses rebuild how they communicate with their customers in a digital world where context is everything.


prefix 2 years ago
As a communication coach, one of the first things discussed with sales teams is the need to understand how people want to have conversations. It’s not a generational thing, necessarily! Some people prefer a call, ignoring email, and others prefer email, ignoring a ringing phone. When we can meet the needs of a wire range of customers, we all win. Good stuff, Neil.
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