When it comes to connecting with customers, how is your business doing? How does your team rate when it comes to connecting with and providing customer service to online customers? Do your outreach efforts include interacting via text, chat or similar software? They should; companies are using these tech tools to connect with potential and existing customers, and they will continue to be part of the overall marketer-customer relationship.
A recently released report looks at the needs and responses of online customers as they grow within that relationship. The Connecting with Customers Report is a comprehensive global look at the needs and responses of consumers across a customer support cycle. Two of its key findings: 83 percent of consumers stated they needed some form of support during their online journey and 59 percent of consumers wanted more options in how they could connect with brands.
The study was commissioned by LivePerson, one of the market leaders in chat software, and highlights key trends in online spending and online customer experience expectations. According to this study, 40 percent of us now spend as much money online as we do in stores. That’s not an altogether surprising statistic, is it?
But how many of us need customer support during our online experiences? The study showed that nearly three quarters (71 percent) of online shoppers expect a bit of help when shopping online; in fact, about half of us will give up on a transaction if we don’t get it.
So, your online customers want some help when they’re spending their hard-earned money on your site. That help can be a chat box or a live person asking customers if they want online help, or some combination of both. This is the kind of online help experience customers are seeking today.
Let’s take a look at Customer Trends for 2013, a report from the customer service software company Parature. Writer Tricia Morris highlights six customer service areas that marketers should pay close attention to this year:
Impact of Connectivity – Morris writes that connectivity is increasingly important as we work, play and shop online. The connectivity of social media is spreading across to brands, retailers and other merchants of commerce.
More Converging Channels – Marketers will soon be expected to have the same sort of customer service across all channels: Web, mobile, social and click-to-call. From phones to tablets to laptops and even TVs, we are connected. Data giant Cisco reports that by year end, there will be more than 7 billion connected devices on the planet. That’s more than the number of people on Earth. Morris also notes that nearly 70 million people will access Facebook from their phones each month this year, equaling 85.4 percent of the overall mobile social networking population. That share will rise to 87.4 percent by 2014, according to eMarketer.
Personalization – How well do marketers know us? Pretty darn well, the evidence suggests. As brands scrape, comb and combine our various data from accounts, purchases and social media, they discern our likes and dislikes, tastes and preferences. And Morris notes that most people won’t mind: "A recent Edelman study notes that almost 60 percent of millennials say that they are willing to share more personal information than they already do with the brands they trust," writes Morris.
Power for Customers – We are using social media to such an extent that our knowledge, opinions, words and voices are helping shape the brands we share about. It’s becoming less of who companies say they are and more of what we determine the brands to be. Messaging must be true and we must believe it for it to be accepted and shared by our connections.
Greater Telepresence – As 4G networks get faster and more widespread, there will likely be more video interaction between customers, brands and customer service agents. According to Cisco, the average mobile connection speed will surpass 1 Mbps in 2014 and will increase nine-fold by 2016. Cisco also predicts that mobile video will account for more than 70 percent of total mobile data traffic by the end of 2016. "As brands strive to be more ‘human,’" Morris writes, "video customer service interactions will become a growing complement to the current multi-channel customer service offering." There’s no doubt mobile is changing the way business is done; respond accordingly.
Rise of Home Agents/CSRs – As the world becomes more connected, the number of customer service agents working from a centralized location may diminish. CSRs can now take calls on their own smartphone from any location, which Morris believes will lead to “happier customer service reps.”
Technology is winning the race. As business marketers, we are compelled to keep up. As we increasingly shop for goods and services online, we can expect to interact more with messaging and live chat services. If you are serious about providing quality customer service and maintaining strong customer connections, then it’s time to seek opportunities to interact with your customers using live chat software, messaging services, live video hosting and more.