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How unified messaging enables brilliant customer service

Heidi Wettach,
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We’re all consumers of service. It’s something that each of us can identify with – we have ALL had both good service experiences and some that weren’t as good. And for those of us in the customer service industry, we can empathize, because we know just how difficult it can be to actually deliver great service. Still, that doesn’t mean we don’t want and expect to get it – regardless of the channel we’re on.

Yet, delivering great service has seemingly gotten harder as customer expectations have been changing. We’re increasingly dealing with customers who were raised on digital and are used to being connected across multiple channels all the time. These popular digital messaging channels include web chat, Facebook, Twitter, Apple Business Chat, SMS, and WhatsApp – just to name a few. And some are so pervasive now that even analog generations, such as baby boomers, seem to live on digital channels like Facebook. We’ve become a culture that’s always-on and that inherently expects service to be on-demand, easy, and productive. And lest I forget, immediate.

But customers are frustrated with their service experiences. According to recent Pega research:

  • 82% are frustrated by how long service takes. That’s often because agents have to navigate multiple interfaces and channels.
  • 76% are frustrated by having to repeat themselves when switching between channels or agents.
  • 64% are frustrated by not knowing the status of their query.

The consequences of these frustrations are major. That same research finds three out of four customers will stop using an organization’s service because of a poor service experience.

Today’s challenges have highlighted and accelerated changing customer expectations

Now, on top of everything you’ve already been trying to do to improve your business’ customer service experience, you’ve also likely experienced huge spikes in contact volume while trying to manage a workforce that may have overnight become a remote one, highly dependent on digital-only channels. This makes it even harder to consistently deliver great service.

Your customers, well they just want to get to resolution – whether it’s a quick answer to a simple question or a complicated service request. Customers aren’t thinking about picking up the phone and calling you, they’re grabbing the closest device and using the channel that is most native to them. The one that is easiest and most convenient for them – not for you. That channel is increasingly a digital one.

Organizations need to adapt customer service to be digital-first

To stay relevant and deliver superior service experiences, you need to be able to quickly adapt as things change – regardless of whether it’s a spike in volume or there’s a new hot channel that you need to support. You need to be wherever your customers are – whenever they reach out.

But there’s more to solving this than just adding channels and becoming an omni-channel service organization.

If you approach this from the perspective of each individual channel, taking a “channel-led” approach – for example, you add Facebook because you need Facebook – you’re potentially making it harder for your agents and your customers. Because by adding channels in this individual, siloed way, you are creating an orchestration nightmare. You have a fixed number of agents with various skillsets trying to service your customers who now also have to manage toggling between the digital messaging applications you’ve added. Meanwhile, your customers may not be getting the same level of service across all of those disconnected channels.

So, while you’re adding channels to better serve your customers, you also need to account for the added complexity for your agents. Think about how you have added or are planning to add these channels. Do you designate agents to each channel to keep them focused on a single stream in a single application? If you’ve added those channels as silos, how do you manage potential spikes in volume? What happens to the customer experience when they drop their chat and try to pick up on Facebook? Will all of your agents have access to all applications as well as the knowledge and customer context to provide high-quality service across the board?

Deep breath. Your agents are used to this. They’ll make due and do their best to help your customers (it is what they do, after all). But what if you could add channels and provide seamless service without creating an orchestration nightmare for your agents and added frustration for your customers?

Move from channel-led to a channel-less customer service strategy

You can make this a reality in your organization by implementing a true channel-less approach for your agents and your customers. Differing from a channel-led approach, a channel-less approach makes service simpler for your customers, your agents, and your business. By building logic from the center out rather than in each individual channel, you can focus on the service and outcomes that your customers expect.

By using a single, integrated interface that consolidates all your channels into a unified view, your agents can provide the same high level of service to your customers (even multiple customers at a time) on any channel, while empowering your customers to reach out on the channel that’s most convenient for them. Instead of having to alt-tab between channels or applications, your agents can focus on what’s most important – the customer and their journey. And each customer can feel confident that, regardless of the channel they choose, they’ll get a quick resolution.

Delivering great service goes beyond just being available across channels; it’s about what makes the experience better. It’s about having visibility into the complete customer history and context and providing empathy based on their unique situation. It’s about being able to guide your agents through the customer inquiry process to ensure consistency and efficiency. And it’s about being able to leverage intelligence that works across channels, rather than being siloed inside each. So, thinking in a channel-less, rather than channel-led way can make a significant difference in your service outcomes.

A unified messaging interface delivers brilliant customer service and experiences

With a single, unified digital messaging interface your agents don’t miss a beat and your customers are engaged across their entire service journey, on their preferred channels. This increases customer satisfaction while reducing your cost-to-serve.

In a year, the pandemic will hopefully be behind us and it will be back to business “as usual.” But new channels are going to keep coming online and customer expectations will continue to increase. There will always be a “next-best” channel, which means you need to be agile. Don’t risk your brand or your customer loyalty just because you haven’t solved the omni-channel dilemma.

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Challenge: Customer Service Industry: Cross-Industry Product Area: Customer Service Topic: Chat and Messaging Topic: Customer Service

About the Author

As a Product Marketing Manager for Pega Customer Service, Heidi Wettach helps the world’s biggest brands transform their CRM systems to deliver smart, personalized customer experiences.

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