Consumer communication preferences are shifting as consumers look for more immediate responses via social media, content, live chat, and other digital communication channels.
The result? Companies providing a variety of options are gaining a competitive advantage over their less-adaptive counterparts.
Digital communication has changed dramatically over the last few years. As a result, buying behavior patterns have also changed. Consumers no longer rely on just a telephone or email to contact customer service.
In fact, according to BI Intelligence from Aspect Software, traditional customer service channels have decreased by 7% in the last two years alone in the United States.
Consumers are looking for faster, more efficient, and in many instances, automated forms of communication, when interacting with a brand.
Why Consumer Communication Preferences Have Changed
Consumer communication preferences have changed for a variety of reasons; easy access to new technologies, long wait times on the telephone, automated responses via chatbots, and more. And, as consumers become even more tech-savvy, these trends will continue.
A recent report shows that 45% of consumers don’t have a preference as to whether they chat with a live agent or chatbot, as long as the service is efficient, and their issue resolved.
Furthermore, studies show that many of today’s consumers may prefer customer service that involves typing or texting rather than talking. One recent study shows that as much as 59% of consumers prefer using automated customer service channels. These automated channels include chatbots, intelligent voice assistants, SMS, and other applications and channels.
If you are reading this thinking that the majority of those consumers are likely millennials, you are correct. 52% of millennials are said to prefer automated customer service channels over more traditional customer service channels.
Automated Customer Service Channels?
The automated channels you choose for your company will largely depend on your type of business, industry, target audience, and customer base.
For example, brick-and-mortar and eCommerce retail stores can benefit from using the telephone, live chat, chatbots, or social media to chat with consumers to resolve their problems.
On the other hand, healthcare organizations that deal with personal health issues or emergencies can benefit from video conferencing or unified communications. TeleHealth is a prime example of this type of channel.
How Can Chatbots Help Your Business?
Here are five primary benefits of using chatbots:
- Cost-Efficient. Chatbots are incredibly cost-effective. Yes, they require an initial investment to design and develop; however, the amount of time they save you and your staff will be well worth it. For example, chatbots can function as a live 24/7 customer service “agent.” Think about what it would cost you to employ or even outsource a 24/7 customer service team. Suddenly chatbots become the answer.
- Lead Generation Source. Not only do they address customers’ problems, but chatbots are also a great lead gen source, making them well worth their weight in gold.
- Increase Conversions. Because chatbots have become a great lead gen source, they inevitably help increase conversions. Chatbots help to create better experiences for users and prospects. They are user-friendly, engaging, and simulate real conversations with humans. This ultimately leads to more conversions.
- Reduce Wait Times. One of the most significant pain points for customers who would call traditional customer service “help” phone line was waiting on hold. Chatbots eliminate this wait time.
- Save Staff Time. Chatbots free up your sales and customer support teams from answering and fielding repetitive customer support calls.
Chatbots are often more efficient at addressing customers’ concerns and solving their problems, and they can be much faster than a live agent. They can answer questions, direct customers to specific pages on your website, and provide specific instructions faster than most agents can type or speak a response. Chatbots can also save your staff time from having to answer the same basic questions repeatedly througout the day.
Collecting Customer Data
Of course, chatbots are just one example of an automated customer service channel. Although some other automated channels function differently, they all have one feature in common: the collection of customer data. “Customer Data” refers to the information that customers choose to provide, which allows the business to offer additional products or service plans that may be a good fit.
One of the primary benefits of collecting customer data is that it is in real-time, making these automated customer service channels an unmatched solution.
Real-time data can put your business in a position to address a customer’s needs much more efficiently. It also provides information that can be used for making more informed decisions in the future.
With automated digital communications, there can be concerns about data privacy and collecting customer information. Its essential brands disclose the fact that consumers are speaking with a chatbot before initiating a conversation. The legal and ethical issue of collecting customer arises when customers aren’t aware that their data is being collected or how it will be used.
A Personalized Customer Experience Matters
Customer experience does matter—especially in today’s digitally-driven era. However, many online brands and brick-and-mortar businesses continue to underestimate the importance of customer experience and how it can positively or negatively impact a company or brand.
Customers want to be more than just a sale, a transaction, or a number to your brand. They want to feel like valued members of your community, online and off. Therefore, it’s essential to consider your company’s current communication channels and methods.
If you believe it’s time to rethink your current strategy, consider testing automated support channels to provide your customers with a quick and efficient experience.
By embracing automated communication channels, businesses can become more competitive and provide service that exceeds expectations based on consumer preference.
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