There is a lot of buzz currently around the future of customer contact, I’ll take a strong guess and suggest that the future belongs to companies who view customer contact technologies as a competitive advantage rather than a cost drain.
With new technologies emerging comes challenges, too. There can often be a steep learning curve when it comes to new technologies, costly for businesses to implement and coupled with the time it takes to train staff on these technologies, it can lead you to question the need for technological advancement. However, most of these new technologies will help to serve customer-facing professionals, carry out their jobs more efficiently in the long run.
In this article, we will explore the future of customer contact, be that video collaboration, live chat, or chatbot, and how they could change day-to-day work, as well as the future of customer contact for your business.
Firstly, let’s explore a technology that has swept the globe in the past year, mostly due to the pandemic, video collaboration. In a previous article written by BDM Groups’ Gary Trudgett, ‘Teams use by our Teams’ helped the business flourish’, the rapid growth of video collaboration software has been extraordinary, with MS Teams growing by 83 million users in the space of a year.
Why? Because face-to-face meetings are an incredibly powerful tool in any business’ arsenal, eye contact is well documented to improve relationships and facilitates trust and openness (both in personal and business settings). Video conferencing is not just a tool for internal use, but an effective way of building and maintaining client relationships.
More customers will be considering voice calls as a diminishing communication preference. Businesses embracing the latest proven technologies, such as MS Teams/Zoom/Google Meet-Up as a way of collaborating, could be seen as leading organisations.
BDM Talk having embraced video collaboration with clients and internally. This has allowed us to continue operating throughout the pandemic to great success. It is our recommendation to every business that video collaboration technologies should be embraced with open arms, enabling you to carry out those all-important face-to-face meetings wherever you may be.
Technological innovation is continually redefining customer expectations and businesses are trying to keep up. One key trend highlighted by Salesforce Connected Consumer Report is that 69% of UK consumers want to talk with a business in real-time, with 41% stating that live chat is their preferred channel for communication.
So, what are the main benefits of utilising main chat?
- For many customers, Live Chat can be more convenient and less stressful than speaking with a customer service agent via telephone.
- Higher functionality – with the ability to send documents, screen share, or even voice call.
- Can Build Trust – by presenting a wide range of options, customers will feel you’re more responsive, more available and generally more interested in their needs.
However, it is important to point out that although Live Chat is a great option for businesses, traditional contact methods shouldn’t be overlooked. While mobile use is second nature to most demographics, people 55+ are more unlikely to contact a business via chat (study done by software advice)
So, is live chat right for your business? As a general rule of thumb, yes! It can allow businesses to grow while building trust and driving sales. However, industry, customer demographic, and employee workload should all be considered when looking to onboard live chat software.
What is an AI chatbot you may be asking? Put simply, a Chatbot is a computer program that will simulate human conversation through voice commands, text chats, or both.
In the past chatbots were a nice gimmick without any concrete benefit, but today they are an indispensable tool for nearly any business. Of course, developing and running a chatbot can be a lot of work and requires financial investment. But there are many good reasons to choose a bot.
What are the main befits of using a chatbot?
- They give your company a face – For many users, chatbot software is the first touchpoint with a business, which can be much more personal than a conversation via mail or phone.
- You are available immediately – In contrast to traditional customer service, a chatbot is available 24/7, supporting customers in the evenings and weekends.
- You gain insights into customer behaviour – Another huge advantage of chatbots is the insight they can provide into customer behaviour. You can derive valuable insights for a future business strategy from the questions, problems and popular product mentions in a chatbot conversation.
- They have a wide range of possible applications – Chatbots offer a wide range of applications and are not limited by industry. For example, businesses in the energy industry, tourism, finance, education, real estate and E-Commerce all utilise a chatbot.
So, chatbots are the perfect solution for you and your customers? Like any automated service they have their drawbacks which anyone considering this service should consider.
Bots could be too mechanical at times. With pre-programmed conversations, they can handle customer requests when the flow of conversation follows a specific path. But they may not be able to handle when the conversation takes an unexpected turn. Thankfully, through technological advancement, it is now possible to create a personality for your chatbot. Meaning you can teach your bot to be empathetic based on certain messages.
Another factor that needs consideration, if you were to develop your own chatbot, is that they require ongoing review, maintenance, and optimisation in terms of their knowledge base and how they communicate with your customers.
Chatbots have several advantages and disadvantages. However, with the introduction of new technologies, the advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages. The right chatbot allows your business to save a lot of time, money, and resources.
It is clear that the future of customer contact is changing and at a rapid pace. The question now is how will your business adapt to these changes? Should you utilise any new customer contact technology as soon as it becomes available?
Throughout this article, we have explored what we believe to be the three upcoming technologies in customer contact, video collaboration, live chat and chatbot. All of these, as demonstrated by Salesforce consumer report, are technologies that are not only being embraced by the public but rising rapidly as their preferred choice of communication with businesses. It is clear that with these technologies being so openly embraced by consumers, that businesses have no choice but to utilise one if not all of these services, or lose out on business to competitors.
BDM Talk is the trusted voice in customer contact. We regularly monitor and evaluate all forms of new customer contact technologies. Ensuring we provide the best advice and guidance to our clients, enabling them to stay ahead of their competitors.
How do you see the future of customer contact for your business?