Agent on computer
Agent on a computer – Photo credit: Shutterstock

As a customer, I am still too often frustrated by my experiences with companies. While I hope to get quick and clear answers, I am redirected between callers over multiple channels in many cases.

My habits are changing, and I expect brands to adapt to them. My communication with those close to me is mainly via messaging apps, so why should I call companies?

According to a study, people share my view: two-thirds of consumers report that the most frustrating aspect of customer service is waiting on hold or explaining the same information to multiple representatives. Many have to wait, repeat themselves, and resort to obsolete channels they no longer use daily. Companies promise us seamless paths, but in practice, the experience is still often disappointing. So how can they improve and finally meet customer expectations?

Why So Much Inconsistency In The Customer Experience?

The lack of consistency in the journey is a major source of frustration for customers. Whether through their opening hours or the obligation to use certain channels, many companies still develop their journeys according to their processes and constraints, without taking into account the needs of the customer.

It is also still common to have to repeat yourself when explaining your problem to multiple advisors, which leads to a misunderstanding among customers who expect the company to know all of this information already.

In our personal lives, the fluidity of communications is vital. Without asking myself the question, I use several channels depending on the context and the need. For example, I use WhatsApp to communicate with my family, call a colleague for an urgent need, and email a client. So I expect the same simplicity with businesses.

Woman typing on a laptop to customer service – Photo credit: Twenty20

The Customer’s Dream: A Real Conversation With Brands

One of the first steps to align with customers’ personal habits is to adopt the right communication channels. Whatever the company’s business sector, messaging can no longer be ignored. WhatsApp alone brings together 30 million users in France. By being present there, brands become reachable at any time, easily, in the same place as customers chat with their relatives.

While a majority of companies are present on these applications, few offer a satisfactory experience. It’s still common to receive automatic responses that link to an FAQ or contact form, a far cry from the conversational approach that customers expect.

As a customer, I want to contact a brand anytime and have a conversation on the channel of my choice. In addition, I want to be able to message in the evening from my phone, see the answer the following day on my computer, and ask a new question anytime without repeating myself.

The companies that already offer this experience prove to me that it is possible. As the Hedonic Adaptation Theory shows us, customers quickly adapt to a new positive experience and use it as a benchmark for quality of service. If companies respond to me within minutes through the channel of my choice, why would I still have to suffer the wait times and redirects imposed by another company?

Asynchronous Is No Longer an Option

Asynchronous rhythm is my favorite part of messaging because it gives me back control and adapts to my availability. Asynchronous communication is becoming the primary mode of exchange in our lifestyles for personal and professional reasons. Therefore, companies must follow suit.

When well managed by customer service, channels like WhatsApp and Messenger are great ways to engage in a conversational strategy. But it is possible to go even further, with a tailor-made messaging channel.

The brand can offer in-house messaging via its mobile application, a live chat window and a web interface. This means the customer has an ongoing conversation with the brand, wherever they are. So, for example, they can start a conversation from home by browsing the site and then continue it via the application when they are traveling. No longer constrained by the processes, and above all, it no longer has to repeat itself because the history of exchanges is stored. It’s the kind of experience customers expect, aligned with their lifestyle.

Having its own messaging channel also reduces dependence on third-party applications: the company retains ownership of the data, can decide on the features offered and does not risk having its account deactivated.

With all these advantages, messaging will continue to gain ground compared to other channels, in particular, the phone and live chat. By engaging in messaging, businesses show customers that they value their time and needs.

This approach must be accompanied by profound changes in the organization of the contact center. In particular, it is necessary to unify channel management and organize teams by skills to optimize resources and productivity. You also have to be able to trust agents more to offer an authentic, unscripted conversation. Like many customers, if I see this in the future, then my dream will come true.