Figures released this week show that for the first time more messages were sent through instant messaging chat apps (such as WhatsApp) than SMS text. The research, from analysts Informa, found that 19 billion messages were sent per day in 2012 on chat apps, compared to 17.6 billion texts. And this gap will widen substantially. Informa believe that chat apps will generate 50 billion daily messages by 2014, compared with just over 21 billion traditional texts.
As in many parts of the mobile ecosystem, this growth is being driven by the smartphone boom as users embrace the extra functions and speed of instant messaging compared to text. With SMS traditionally a large revenue earner for mobile carriers, this increases the pressure for them to find alternative sources of income moving forward.
The growth of instant chat also has a potentially large impact on customer service teams. More and more people are now accustomed to the immediacy of real-time conversations with friends and expect the same speed of response when seeking information or answers from businesses. Instant messaging has spread beyond just the young or early adopters, with Skype prevalent in business and Apple’s iMessage built into all iPads and iPhones. The mindset of today’s consumers is focused on speed, personal responses and great service.
So, how can businesses ensure they offer their customers live, online conversations in a way that is simple and straightforward for consumers to use? The good news is that web chat has been in existence for a while and the combination of productivity improvements and wider acceptance of chat makes it the perfect solution for increasing customer engagement.
Web chat has been a central part of Eptica’s Multichannel Customer Interaction Suite for some time and has recently been enhanced to enable organisations to both improve the customer experience and drive increased revenues. The proactive web chat solution is now integrated with the Eptica knowledgebase to improve the efficiency of every chat agent and increase conversion rates by up to 10x. Completely customisable rules of engagement allow chat sessions to be triggered by customer events (such as pausing on key pages, shopping baskets and forms), improving sales without pushing up costs. Enhanced co-browsing enables agents to remove road blocks on the customer journey, increasing successful online form submission by up to 25%.
Customers today demand instant responses to their questions and expect businesses to use the latest technology channels to communicate with them. Proactive web chat is therefore the perfect solution to meet their needs, increase satisfaction and drive increased sales.
Successful organisations have long realised that delivering the best customer experience has a direct impact on their profits. Happier customers remain loyal, buy more and tell their friends about the good experience they’ve had. Upset customers move to your competitors and use social media to tell the world about the poor experience they’ve had to endure.
This is backed up by research – Forrester believes that a ten point increase in a company’s customer service score can translate into an extra $1 billion of additional sales. But while most companies understand the importance of the customer experience, delivering it well can be much more complex and difficult. Customers have increasingly high expectations and want the same level of excellent service across every channel and device, time after time.
To help businesses meet this need, accelerate online sales and turn customer service into a revenue generator Eptica has just launched its Multichannel Customer Interaction Suite 8.2.
Eptica’s unified solution for multichannel customer service gives customers access to brands from multiple touch points: web, email, chat, mobile, phone and social media. Acquiring Lingway in November 2012 has enabled Eptica to strengthen its suite with one of the most powerful multilingual semantic analysis engines on the market, delivering functionality that helps increase sales and improve the customer experience.
Eptica version 8.2 has been made more powerful in four key areas:
1 Knowledge based proactive web chat
By integrating Eptica’s proactive web chat solution with the centralised Eptica knowledgebase, the efficiency of every chat agent is improved and conversion rates increased by up to 10x. Completely customisable rules of engagement allow chat sessions to be triggered by customer events while enhanced co-browsing enables agents to remove road blocks on the customer journey, increasing successful online form submission by up to 25%.
2 Customer sentiment analysis
Companies can now analyse the tone of every customer interaction, whether on social media, email, forms, surveys, or digitised letters and faxes, delivering vital insight into customer sentiment about product and brand. This can then be used to identify emerging issues, service problems and root causes in order to improve the customer experience, and sales.
3 Emotion-based routing
All incoming digital enquiries are automatically routed based on the content and tone of the customer’s question. For example, difficult or complicated enquiries can be directed to a specialist team, urgent enquiries prioritised and happy customers automatically offered the chance to complete a feedback survey.
4 Enhanced Web Self-service for web, mobile and social media
Customers want access to consistent answers through every channel and on every device. Eptica’s enhanced Web Self-service provides unlimited flexibility and leverages responsive design to create the best customer experience across the web, social media, iPhone, iPad, Android and Smart TV channels. Self-service options can now be quickly added to any point on a website, helping customers find the answers they need to complete their purchase. Customer service answers can also be automatically displayed through existing product search boxes, and Self-service widgets can display context sensitive help related to the product or service the customer is researching or buying.
Companies realise they need to deliver the right customer experience if they are increase revenues and survive in increasingly competitive markets. With the new features in the Eptica Multichannel Customer Interaction Suite, customers can access the right information they need to complete the customer journey, whatever their channel or device, boosting revenues and ensuring that service excellent improves the bottom line.
Eptica has won the Social Media Customer Service category at the prestigious Asia Pacific Customer Service Consortium (APCSC) Expo International Awards. This award was in recognition of Eptica’s innovative social media customer interaction suite and its successful implementation at low cost airline AirAsia.
By deploying Eptica as a centralised customer Self-service system, AirAsia is now providing fast, consistent customer service across the web, Facebook and mobile channels, 24 hours a day. Over one million enquiries per month are now being managed through the AskAirAsia system. What is critical for consistency of answers is that all these channels share the same knowledgebase. So whether customers ask a question through the web, Facebook or mobile they receive the same answer, through the channel of their choice. This reduces the risk of separate silos of information being created and brings down cost. By using Eptica AirAsia has been able to achieve a significant reduction in contact centre costs, despite dramatically increasing user numbers.
“Social media provides a powerful new channel for delivering customer service that enables organisations to get closer to their customers,” said Olivier Njamfa, President and CEO, Eptica. “However it is vital that it integrates with the overall customer service strategy, sharing information with other channels to provide a consistent and accurate experience. Winning the prestigious APCSC award is the perfect recognition of the success AirAsia has achieved – by centralising customer service knowledge and then delivering fast answers it ensures excellent and efficient service through the customer’s channel of choice.”
As a fast growing business, AirAsia has invested heavily in new areas such as Facebook and mobile for customer service. Its iPhone app, which uses Eptica Self-service to provide an optimised experience when customers ask service questions via their phones, has proved incredibly popular and at launch was the No 1 selling app in the iPhone App store for Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. AirAsia has already received multiple awards for its customer service excellence, including the Customer Lover award at the inaugural WITovation awards, organised by Singapore-based content and community platform Web In Travel (WIT).
Founded 14 years ago, the Asia Pacific Customer Service Consortium aims to promote service quality and customer relationship excellence across Asia Pacific and to recognise and reward companies, business units, teams, and individuals that have contributed to the success of both their customers and the organisations that they serve. APCSC jointly offers the most recognised global certifications for CRM, Customer Service, Contact Centre, Support Services with global education partners and international membership organisations to set standards world-wide.
The APCSC Expo Innovation Customer Relationship Excellence (CRE) Awards are one of APCSC’s key activities, recognising and rewarding industry leaders and professionals for their customer centric service innovation. Winners from across Asia Pacific were announced at a ceremony in Hong Kong on 14 June 2012 that was held as part of the CRE & CPQS Asia Pacific Leadership Summit. Eptica CEO Olivier Njamfa also spoke at the Summit on how companies can successfully manage multichannel customer service in the increasingly complex and ‘always on’ world.
As well as AirAsia’s success, the Social Media Customer Service award recognises Eptica’s innovative technology, including its Social Media Interaction Management suite. This enables companies to listen, respond and interact successfully with customers and prospects on social media. With complete end-to-end conversation tracking and interaction management it allows organisations to proactively identify customer opportunities, quickly act to solve customer complaints before they become serious issues and ensure social media engagement is a success.
Online privacy is a topic that is constantly in the news at the moment, with iPhone app makers Path and Hipster the latest companies offering apologies after it emerged that they uploaded address book information from phones to their servers without asking permission. Other brands, including Amazon-owned retailer Zappos and Sony have had to issue apologies after their sites have been hacked and customer details compromised.
Clearly this is a complex area and one where issues can hurt relationships with customers and cause a great deal of damage to an organisation’s reputation. And with the European Union planning more stringent laws that would force companies to tell customers of security breaches within 24 hours and threatening large fines, it also has the potential to become extremely expensive.
So what can companies do to manage such crises and, as much as possible, reduce their impact on customer satisfaction? Here are four key areas to focus on:
1 Communicate quickly
Customers want to know what is going on, and so fast communication is vital if personal data has been misused or hacked. Even if you have to issue an interim statement that is then updated it is important to act quickly to prevent rumours spiralling out of control. Customers are no longer willing to wait hours for a response, but want to access answers within minutes if you are to retain their trust.
2 Communicate consistently
If their online privacy is compromised, ensure that all your customers receive the same information, whatever channel they are using to communicate. Have a central knowledgebase of information that is rolled out to the web, contact centre agents and social media to make sure there are clear, consistent answers for customers across all channels.
3 Use technology to automate response
One of the major impacts of a crisis is a huge increase in questions from customers as they email or call your contact centre to find out what is going on. If this overloads your contact centre and causes delays in getting through, customer anger will only increase. Use technologies such as Web Self-service to allow them to ask their questions on the web and social media, avoiding an overload on your contact centre but still providing the information that customers need
4 Monitor social media
Most organisations now have a strategy for monitoring social media for discussions mentioning their company. Make sure this planning includes crisis management and that there is a clear structure involving both customer service and communication staff so that queries are answered quickly and information is provided proactively to prevent rumours spreading. HSBC’s slick response to a major IT outage that shut down cash machines is a great example of how best to cope with a crisis using social media.
Crises do happen, often triggered by events outside the customer service department’s control. However it is vital that customer service teams are well prepared and ready to spring into action to provide the fast, consistent information customers want – otherwise you risk losing customers and long term damage to your brand.
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