When dealing with a company, each customer has their own preferences on how they like to be contacted or make contact. Customers have learnt a simple truth: businesses will adapt to the needs of customers, not the other way around. Traditional landscapes have always seen customers being required to make contact through phone (or even dusting off their collection of stamps and sending their request by snail mail, happily waiting for months for a response). Now, however, things are different and it’s all because of one word – millennials.
Being in my twenties, I’ve got my feet firmly planted in the ‘millennial’ demographic (born after 1982 but before 2004), and there’s a lot we do differently. I live on my phone and yes, I’ll admit, I’ve experienced separation anxiety without it. In my personal life, I tend to only call my mum or my wife, with everyone else getting a text or a message through Facebook Messenger. Using the internet is second nature to me and it doesn’t take me long to find what I need. I hate calling contact centres — the honest truth is that I have better things to do with my time, and if I can find the information myself, I’ll just send a quick tweet or an instant message.
Help customers help themselves
Millennials have huge buying power as target audiences, and as a result, companies need to adapt the way they do things to meet their needs and expectations. According to Zendesk, 67% of customers said that they would prefer to self-serve than to call a contact centre. Recent studies undertaken by Fonolo show 90% of customers expect to have the option of a self-service support portal, but more importantly, 40% of customers call contact centres only after they’ve looked for support through self-service. In a nutshell, your customers are moving away from the old traditional landscapes and moving into the exciting world of digital.
To keep the competitive edge, it’s important to think about what your customers want, and more specifically, what self-service portals you need.
- Social Media – companies offering social media is a given now. According to Sensis, 50% of customers use social media at least once a day, meaning if you’re not working with social yet, you’re missing a massive opportunity to tap into half the Australian population.
- Chat – whilst it isn’t as common as social, chat is a great tool to assist in diverting calls from your contact centre and can give you a more natural interaction then social can offer at times.
- Website – your customer will generally start at your website, so make sure it’s easy to use. Search functions should be easily visible and FAQs should literally be a click away. If a customer finds your website too hard to use, you will lose them.
Chatbots: affordable (and not scary)
The most relevant, and potentially the biggest predicted trend, is artificial intelligence. Whilst we're quite a way off from seeing Terminator-esque battle bots, a friendlier and more helpful alternative is already here – chatbots. Brands are already jumping into the artificial intelligence market, with recent examples being:
- American Express – allowing you to check your account balance from Facebook Messenger
- Pizza Hut – allowing you to order a pizza from Facebook Messenger
- Uber – allowing you to order an Uber by clicking on an address in a friend’s message
These brands experienced success for being pioneers in the industry and because they could offer something no one else could at the time.
With advancements continuing to emerge through chatbot technology, customers will soon be able to engage in self-serve activities with natural ways of speaking. A chatbot will provide a simple and easy ROI – cheap to create, cheap to maintain, and you save costs by diverting calls going into your contact centre.
Adapting to your customers’ needs won’t happen overnight, but by implementing self-service portals, you’ll get there sooner rather than later. You’ll always have a need for a contact centre, but we can start to expect to see contact centres handling more complex enquiries or anything requiring human emotions (like hardship). The future looks exciting and full of advancements, none of which we can accurately predict, but one thing is for sure – you need to be engaging with your future market before it’s too late.
Where will your customers be in five years’ time?