KEEPING communication open with customers is an important part of any business process, and we’ve seen a lot of change in how we do it. UK businesses are growing fast, and so are the ways they react to customer service enquiries, with efficiency and ease front of mind.
With virtual customer demand heightened even more during the COVID-19 pandemic, live chats and chatbots have become something businesses value for their communication. Chatbots especially have had an emphasis placed on their value, being considered forward-thinking.
Janine Hunt, client partnership director at Kura, the UK’s leading independent outsourcer, comments: “Communication is necessary to effective and efficient progression between business and customers. The quality of your product and service will only be enhanced by quality interaction with those putting trust in your company. Here at Kura, we strive for this level of communication to show our customers how much their business means to us and encourage them to return in the future.”
In this article, Janine explores the ways businesses can use these evolving communication methods and how they should adjust their strategies to continue delivering outstanding customer service.
The COVID Effect
Research from Hubspot suggests that 93% of customer service teams say customers have higher expectations than pre-pandemic levels. They know brands have the tools to automate and personalise many aspects of customer service, and now expect it to happen.
Once COVID had forced us all indoors, we had to find new ways to conduct our business processes and keep channels of communication open. Not being able to interact face to face saw the use of live chats skyrocket, with a number of industries, including automotive and estate agents seeing huge increases as time wore on.
While calling it a benefit of the pandemic might be generous, lockdowns meant that customers and businesses were all in similar positions. Working from home meant that everyone was within touching distance of a laptop, tablet, or phone. Customers now expect prompt responses to their inquiries with the same quality and speed they got during the pandemic.
This can be directly linked to the rise in popularity of chatbots. Not all companies have the resources to dedicate an entire team to customer service and look to AI to automate the process but keep communication open.
How Should Businesses React?
While chatbots might seem like an effective method of covering interaction with customers, it’s not a fix-all solution. Thanks to research from Usabilla, we can see that 36% of customers prefer to talk to a chatbot for “simple” inquiries such as requests or issues, but a wider number still want human interaction.
Chatbots carry the issue of being quite restrictive. You can program them to respond to particular keywords or sentences, but it doesn’t account for the more complicated issues that occasionally arise. Research from the Publicis Group shows that if a customer had a bad experience using a chatbot, 73% of them wouldn’t use it again.
While we’re not saying to get rid of your chatbots entirely, integrating them into a wider customer service support where humans are the next port of call for more complicated problems could help improve satisfaction. This can be done by programming in an option that if, after a certain amount of time spent talking to the chatbot, it hasn’t produced an adequate solution, you can be transferred to a live chat operator to take your problem further.
This way, the time spent developing your chatbot and pre-determined responses isn’t wasted, but you also value the customers and their need to fix their issues effectively. Onboarding and training individuals for live chats in-house can take time, but customer service outsourcing can eliminate these issues and allow you to focus on the further development of your product or services for your market.
The growth of webchats throughout the pandemic was born out of the necessity to keep communication open. But coming out of the worst of lockdowns and isolations means that customers’ expectations have increased around how fast their queries are dealt with. Further growth must happen to accommodate these needs, and we’re likely to see it continue, as the data gathered around chatbots show they’re not a permanent solution. Investing in customer service can only help grow your business with the ever-evolving customer satisfaction trends.