Recently, WhatsApp announced plans to help businesses operate and amplify their presence online, including a new chat feature that allows for more effective communication with customers. This move from WhatsApp is in line with the rise in demand from consumers for digital customer service communications, with chatbot and messaging services growing in preference. In fact, online contact channels are now an expectation for customers, with 86% expecting online self-service options.
WhatsApp already has an API interface that allows businesses to connect their systems and use the platform as a customer service channel, however, these plans will form part of a new premium service specifically geared at small businesses. These features will include the option to manage chats across up to 10 devices and customized click-to-chat buttons that can be posted on websites and shared, meaning businesses can customize their experiences and quickly reach out to customers.
The rise in cloud-based software specifically developed to enhance customer service means that businesses can combine efficiency and personalization, work remotely, reduce their costs and, ultimately, improve their customer’s experiences.
Let’s explore some of the benefits and discuss how integrated cloud technology can be a game-changer for small businesses, allowing them to provide an effective and efficient customer service experience.
Efficiency and personalization combined
Customer experience has a huge impact on whether consumers will return to a business with 90% saying that their brand loyalty is based on the quality of customer service they receive. Customer bases are often diverse and so present a range of unique queries. Personalising customer service is therefore the key to satisfying customers. Traditionally this has been through personal interactions with service agents, however, this approach is labour heavy and businesses often had to choose between efficiency and quality when it came to customer service.
Integrated cloud-based customer service platforms have meant that the way customer service is delivered has drastically changed in recent years. Chatbots, once an almost space-age innovation, are now a familiar part of customer service, saving customers valuable time and businesses huge amounts of money. They allow customers with simple queries to easily access information, freeing up agents for more complex tasks.
Whilst chatbots are adept at servicing large numbers of customers, they struggle to mimic the personal touch of a real customer service agent. Cloud-based technology allows chatbots and real people to work together to maximize the experience . When integrated in the cloud, real customer service agents can handle queries that are more complex, while chatbots are left to respond to large numbers of simple queries. In this vein, the new WhatsApp features will allow companies to send standardized responses initially and have up to ten connected devices that can personally respond to queries when a more in-depth reply is needed. This means companies can respond to a range of queries seamlessly and effectively.
A win-win for both the businesses and the customer.
Communication channels connected to the cloud, such as WhatsApp, mean that customer service agents can respond to issues from wherever they are in the world at any time. In this new age of remote working, this means that companies can have their systems in place at any location. Businesses, therefore, retain the ability to maintain productivity and prevent disruption for both the business and its customers. Reducing the need to be in the office also means that the need for expensive office space is decreased or even totally eradicated giving employees flexibility and also lowering overheads..
Remote access also makes it easier to offer customer service solutions 24/7. Employees are able to work from home instead of the office when conducting out of hours work, meaning they can avoid those red-eye commutes and start work well-rested. A 24/7 service is a huge benefit for a business that receives out of hours queries from customers in different time zones or on weekends, and reduces the time customers have to wait for a response.
A system that can integrate several channels together such as chatbots and telephony can also present a number of significant cost savings for a business. Employees are able to communicate internally through instant messaging platforms as well as using them to deliver a personalized customer experience. This reduces the overheads of customer service operations as well as personal costs to employees who don’t need to commute into the office every day.
In much the same way, when operations are integrated, systems can also be streamlined, reducing costs. Disparate systems can be merged together, in this case a chatbot feature is melded with a personal response platform, whereas before two systems and two potentially expensive subscriptions would be needed.
At its heart, cloud technology is designed to be able to interact with other technology as seamlessly as possible. This means that cloud-based customer service programmes can also be utilized in line with existing systems such as CRM databases, removing the need for costly system switches.
Ultimately, however, the first concern for businesses is to keep their customers as well serviced as they possibly can be. Investing in a cloud-based customer service system means that they can treat customers as individuals and create customized responses to their queries. The level of service their customers experience is therefore enhanced, so, customers are happier, customer loyalty is boosted, and the company is strengthened.
By: Jonny Campbell, Head of Customer Growth and Retention at customer service specialist, FM Outsource.