Integrating customer service support with social media

June 02, 2021 08:41
Photo: Reuters

Our daily routines are fraught with boundless simplicity and comfort, often at the tap of a button on our phones. We’re now able to effortlessly complete tasks that, just a couple of decades ago, would have consumed considerable time and energy. Consider the process of ordering a takeaway meal in the 1990s – you would need to flick through different options in the local phone directory, without the benefit of a menu. Once you found a suitable restaurant to order from, you would call them via a fixed phone line service and be greeted with a busy dial tone. Once you finally got through, you would spend 5-minutes speaking with a staff member just to determine the menu options and how much each item cost. You would then make sure to have enough change for the delivery as payment could only be made in cash.

Compare that to today, where our entire world is connected to uninterrupted, hyper-personalised experiences. We have reached a point where the digital tapestry of our lives is taken for granted. From stepping onto the MTR while scrolling through the latest Spotify playlist; checking out the latest lunch offers on Deliveroo; and later clocking off for the day and browsing the ‘binge-worthy’ section on Netflix, these days are punctuated with frictionless, customised moments.

A Convenience-Craving Culture

In a digital world where convenience is a commodity, consumers don’t just desire personalization – they expect it. Moreover, they demand 24/7 simple and seamless experiences at their fingertips. The 2020 Customer Contact Week Digital (CCWD) Report from Infobip, a global cloud communications platform provider, found that within a purchase process, 95 per cent of users will refuse to move from one stage to the next if it requires any switching of apps, platforms, or sessions. For businesses, this means that the slightest friction could turn away a customer forever. In today’s fast-moving world, it doesn’t matter if products tout the latest technology at the lowest price-points – if the customer experience (CX) isn’t smooth, consumers will walk away; even from the brands they love.

The current major concern is how there is a huge gulf between what consumers expect from companies for their user experience and what they are receiving. Even in Hong Kong, a global hub of product and service innovations, this disparity is evident. Those that have opened a bank account here know this – long lines, red tape, and stacks of paperwork make applying for a credit card a formidable task.

Digitisation is, of course, key to bridging this gap. However, that alone is not enough as companies must go the extra mile to create personalised and seamless interactions with their customers; specifically on the channels and platforms they use on a daily basis.

Last month, Infobip published the results of a survey it conducted with 2,760 customer service professionals across the Asia Pacific with the goal of finding out how customer behavior had evolved and what businesses are doing to adapt their Customer Service Support (CSS) during the pandemic . It found that 66 per cent cited social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, as the main channels of customer service. The same sample indicated that, today, customers prefer to turn to social media rather than make a call or send an email for support and enquiries.

In Hong Kong, the opportunity for businesses to integrate their CSS with social media is particularly ripe, with 86 per cent of the population being active users on WhatsApp and 84 per cent on Facebook . It helps that the city has one of the fastest fibre broadband connections in the world.

Hyper-Personalisation at Scale

With cloud solutions, companies can now unify popular communication apps onto a single platform, including chat apps (WhatsApp, Viber, and Facebook Messenger), SMS, email, voice, mobile apps, websites, and emerging channels, such as Rich Communication Services (RCS). This creates simplicity for the customer as it engages the touchpoints that are the most convenient for them, while helping companies scale their engagement efforts across channels and devices. If businesses aren’t doing this, they risk falling behind their competitors and losing market share.

But how can you embed simple and effective personalisation into social media engagement?

With cloud-based, omnichannel tools, companies can collect valuable data, such as habits, behaviours, and preferences to provide a holistic view of a customer. These data-sets can then be used to create campaigns that resonate with them on a personal level.

For instance, if a consumer logs on to a website and looks at a red shirt but leaves without buying anything, this will trigger a customised campaign for them, such as a personalised email or WhatsApp message, with a voucher for the red shirt. By making the most of digital users’ footprints through these personal messages, businesses can build meaningful relationships. In fact, a survey by Epsilon found that 80 per cent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that provides personalised journeys .

The journey doesn’t end after the purchase is made; that’s just the start. After a customer is ‘locked-in’, they can be turned into repeat, loyal users through further proactive engagement, ensuring longer and deeper consumer relationships. A SmarterHQ study found that brand loyalty among millennials increased by 28% on average if they receive personalised communications .

Customers today expect a company’s CX to be bespoke, round the clock, and on the platforms of their choice. To meet their expectations, businesses should embrace an omnichannel approach with a holistic customer experience in mind so they can close gaps in customer retention and, at the same time, propel forward their business growths.

Adding a personal touch is the most critical factor. The simple act of noticing and remembering a customer’s journey can go a long way. For the last two decades, business success had largely hinged on the ability to digitise human work. In the years ahead, success will be measured by the ability of companies to humanise digital experiences.

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Sales Director, APAC Infobip