Customers want more text-based customer support options from brands

Your customers want to text for live support. Are you ready?

When asked about customer support preferences, 72% of consumers age 18 to 64 said having the ability to text with a live agent in real-time would improve their overall customer service experience. The question was part of a survey  conducted by the customer experience platform UJET polling 500 U.S. consumers on customer support experiences. The survey revealed people want more text-based customer service channels — and that most rank “human interactions” above technology-enabled experiences.

SMS, email, in-app messaging and chat outrank live video support. After text-based support, email and in-app messaging were the runners up with 70% of respondents saying either option would improve their customer support experiences.

The email support option was more specific than simply offering a customer support email address: “Email support with a question or an issue description and receipt of a reply with a solution.”

The least popular communication option was live video chat with an agent, with only 42% of survey respondents saying it would improve customer service experiences.

The use of fingerprint or facial recognition technology to identify and authorize an account also ranked low on the list of desired features, with 43% saying the tech-enabled services would improve customer support.

Human touch outweighs technology. “Helpfulness of agent” ranked at the top of the list of factors most likely to positively influence consumers’ customer support experiences. Speed of initial contact from the brand ranked as the second most influential factor.

Only 6% of the survey respondents claimed having an experience that “felt personalized” was the driving force behind a positive customer service experience. The fact that consumers rank “helpful agents” over “personalization” points to the importance of offering one-on-one interactions with an actual customer service rep over tech-enabled personalization capabilities.

Still, brands shouldn’t dismiss technology when building out their customer support capabilities. Sixty-seven percent of the consumers surveyed said being able to upload and share a photo with a customer service agent would be helpful — 66% felt the same way about uploading and sharing a screenshot and 55% would like to be able to upload video.

Most consumers still dialing in their customer service issues. While the survey found consumers want more text-based customer support options, it also revealed most people are still relying on phone calls. Forty-six percent of the survey participants said they’re most likely to use the phone when contacting a brand’s customer support department. That number goes up to 53% if it’s a customer service inquiry for an e-commerce company — 69% if you’re looking at the most commonly used customer support channel for people age 55 to 64.

Email comes in second after phone calls when looking across all demographics. But, if you break-out survey responses by age, email is the most popular channel among people in three different age groups: 25 to 34, 35 to 44 and 45 to 54.

Just a quarter of the respondents said they currently use SMS messaging for customer support. UJET notes the reliance on phone and email are the result of established customer service protocols among e-commerce companies: “These methods of providing customer support have become institutionalized over time, making it difficult for companies to introduce newer channels effectively.”

Why we care. The customer journey doesn’t stop when the purchase is complete — an effective customer journey map includes every touchpoint: pre-sale, post-sale and beyond. A key ingredient of building a holistic customer experience means giving your customers multiple ways to contact your support teams. Brands that currently rely on phone and email will benefit from moving beyond legacy communication systems and exploring newer channels such as SMS, chat and in-app messaging.



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