It’s no surprise that the pandemic created sharp shifts in channel usage. Support organizations were forced to pivot to meet their customers’ digital-first needs and rethink their communication tools.
According to a recently commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Intercom, messaging saw the sharpest gain in channel usage since the pandemic. The research revealed that prior to the pandemic, messaging was ranked fifth. However, now messaging is the second most utilized channel overall.
When taking a closer look, the channels that received the most significant ranking boosts were mobile applications, web-based chats, and video chat. In-person and telephone (agent-led) saw the sharpest declines.
Even as we move into a more manageable phase of the pandemic, these shifts are likely to stay. The majority (71%) of survey takers believe the impact on how their organizations address customer support will be long-term.
Support leaders agree that messenger-based support is business-critical
Customer support teams are facing a perfect storm of challenges. These challenges include:
- Shifting customer communication preferences
- Rising customer expectations
- High levels of employee turnover
- New work-from-home needs
- Record-high inflation
The majority of customer support leaders believe that messenger-based support and the shift to self-service will solve many of these issues. They are aware that customers prefer conversational, messenger-based experiences as well as how it makes them more operationally efficient.
Messenger-based support allows support teams to handle rising ticket volumes, meet target resolution times, keep costs under control, and unlock personalization at scale. In our current climate, digital solutions that can address these issues are business-critical.
Current technology stacks slow progress
Although customer support leaders understand the need to adapt, their current technology is getting in the way of progress.
According to new research from McKinsey, although 77% of industry leaders report that their organizations have built digital platforms, only 10% report that those platforms are fully scaled and adopted by customers.
What’s more, only 12% of digital platforms are highly integrated, and, for most organizations, only 20% of digital contacts are unassisted. This is low considering Gartner’s original prediction that most organizations would be to 80% self-service by now.
So where is the disconnect? Most customer support leaders point to cross-channel integration and migration. They say that their agents spend too much time switching between tools and platforms to solve customer issues. Not only does this hurt the agent experience, but it hurts the customer experience, too.
How businesses can move forward
Businesses need to balance the need for speed with the need to future-proof their tech stacks. Careful consideration must be given to the way conversational platforms can integrate with their current and future tools.
There are SaaS solutions for almost every business need, and many of them do a good job of using APIs to work together. It’s important to thoroughly vet and understand how well the APIs and integrations work to avoid interoperability issues.
Businesses need to ask questions like:
- Is this conversational solution compatible with existing tools?
- Is the technology scalable?
- Does it meet our performance requirements?
- How well is the technology documented?
- Will it create any dependencies that will become a challenge down the road?
- Is the API user-friendly and consistent?
Although not every issue can be anticipated, businesses can dodge many challenges by avoiding all-in-one, monolithic platforms and seeking out leaders in compostable architecture.