There’s no magic formula for agility. What works for your team (and your customers!), may not work for everyone else. But for teams that have continued to respond to customers' tickets just as quickly as they did before the pandemic (or even faster), one clear strategy has emerged: agile companies are prioritising speed above all else. And they’re using live channels to do so.
Live channels like phone and chat support resolve a customer’s issue in real time, which means they usually boast the fastest resolution time, even if they can be harder to scale. A single agent can only be on one phone call at a time, but that same agent can handle multiple tickets over messaging channels or email.
As economies shut down around the globe, customer engagement soared, with many turning to chat support for help. Roughly 1 in 3 agile companies saw customer service requests spike over their live channels, while globally 13 per cent increased up the number of dedicated agents. Keep in mind, we only looked at significant volume changes here, so only ticket and agent count increases of at least 10 per cent.
Some of the highest agent count increases were seen by:
- B2B companies
- E-commerce (both) and retail (for phone)
- Mid-sized (both) and larger companies (for chat)
On a global scale, more B2B companies, for instance, responded with large-scale staffing increases (16 per cent) than B2C companies (14 per cent) or those supporting internal staff (13 per cent). Somewhat surprisingly, e-commerce companies were also more likely to lean into their live channels. Nearly 20 per cent increased staffing considerably, compared to other digital natives like online health (10 per cent) or more typical players like the financial services sector (also 10 per cent).
I’ll take the phone support, please
During this same period, more agile companies added phone support than nearly any other channel. Second only to Zendesk’s AI-powered AnswerBot (which rode the self-service wave this year), phone support adoption jumped 16 per cent.
So who’s adding phone support?
- Internal support, B2B
- Financial services, gaming, fitness
- Larger companies
Phone support saw numerous converts. Agile companies supporting internal staff rushed to adopt phone support, where rates have risen 36 per cent since February (B2B adoptees also saw a 24 per cent bump). And though the financial services sector saw lower staffing increases on existing live channels, many smaller companies actually added phone support for the first time. Adoption rates spiked 28 per cent, with adoption also up for the gaming (up 30 per cent) and fitness sectors (up 16 per cent).
Fewer companies turned to chat support this year. But there were some bright spots — small companies were more likely to add chat (up 11 per cent), with higher rates also seen among the hard-hit online health (up 22 per cent) and travel (up 17 per cent) sectors.
Getting better at going live
Whether you’re adding live channel support for the first time or a seasoned pro, it’s helpful to go over best practices, particularly during volatile periods. Consumers tend to opt to resolve their support issues over the phone, and providing exceptional experiences here can make your brand stand out and earn you lasting customer loyalty.
Our CX Trends Report also revealed that messaging apps saw the biggest surge in first-time users, rising faster than any other channel in 2020. Since last year, the percentage of customers who cite social messaging apps like Facebook Messenger as their favourite channel has grown 110 per cent.
Facebook Messenger customer service interactions may have spiked in 2020 because of the pandemic, but customers have clearly grown attached to the channel—meaning businesses should learn to love it, too.
Why you should use Facebook Messenger for customer service?
Even before COVID-19 transformed customer service, there were already plenty of compelling reasons to use messaging channels for support.
Live chat, in-app messaging, and social media channels like Facebook Messenger are usually less expensive to manage than traditional channels, such as the phone. They’re also easier to automate and connect to any self-service options you offer. And support agents can field multiple messaging conversations at once, allowing for a level of multitasking that’s impossible over the phone. From the customer perspective, messaging is a relatively quick and painless way to contact customer service. It represents convenience—both in terms of speed and accessibility.
“Messaging is a great way of reaching your customers where they already are. Social messaging apps like Facebook Messenger have so much reach. And your customers are already using it in their personal lives, so it’s pretty natural for them to start messaging your business that way, too.”
Paul Lalonde, product expert at Zendesk.
Over the past few years, social messaging apps like WhatsApp and Messenger from Facebook have opened their APIs to enterprise businesses, allowing them to carry out customer conversations at scale. Now, Instagram messaging is accessible via the Messenger API. For businesses with heavy Millennial and Gen Z customer bases, Instagram is crucial. The Messenger API for Instagram allows business to enhance their presence on Instagram, manage customer conversations at scale and ultimately offer a better customer experience.
Instagram messaging has some really rich features that larger businesses haven’t really been able to use until now — whether this looks like offering more personal touches with emoji reactions or threading conversations for clarity.
The door is also open to more complex conversational use cases, which can include chatbots and data capture. And most importantly, the Messenger API for Instagram makes it possible for businesses to respond to messages sent by people via their profiles, Shops and Stories.
MORE FROM OUR SERIES 'AGILE PRACTICES':
1 Building an agile support team
2 Agility starts with self-service
3 Customers are turning to messaging. Why aren’t agile companies doing the same?
4 Prioritising fast responses with live channels and social messaging