Here’s a question.
Do you remember the days when we only had programmatic TV?
There were things called TV guides in the newspapers and magazines which would tell us what was on when. We all had copies laying folded on our coffee tables, decorated with hastily drawn biro circles.
As long ago as that life may seem, it was only 2006 when Amazon launched its video on-demand service, prompting Netflix to swiftly follow suit. This faraway event in a building in California changed the way we consume TV forever. And it’s just one of the many examples of technology altering the way seemingly entrenched modes of human activity are carried out.
When we look at why this might have happened, there’s a very simple explanation. We, as humans, like efficiency. In other words - we’re quite lazy. We seek the fastest and best return on our energy expenditure that we can get. In the ‘old’ days, it took time and energy (albeit not that much) to meander through black and white TV guides, circling things which might be of interest. We’d then have to try and remember to either be in when those shows were on, or set our VHS (gasp) recorders to take a grainy copy of the show - adverts and all. Not very efficient.
Compare that to what we have now and it’s a world away. Not only do we have all the programs we could ever want sitting there, waiting for us to get home from work, ready to be played at the touch of a button. We can even start watching those programs on the train home, albeit on a phone screen, to then pick up at the exact spot we left them, on our TVs.
We get exactly what we want, when we want it, how we want it. And half the time, we don’t even need to decide what to watch - there’s a sneaky little algorithm learning all about our secret love of true crime documentaries.
This basic desire for life on-demand has been the driving force behind vast swathes of the past decade’s technological advances in entertainment, retail, media, and many other areas of life.
It’s only been just over a decade, but the changes that have taken place have switched most of us from patient users content with being served on someone else’s terms, to demanding efficiency-seekers who expect everything on our terms. And there’s no going back.
In no arena is this mental shift more potent than customer service. Whereas entertainment is a relatively trivial affair, when a person wants to contact customer service, they’re seeking out needed information, often urgently. In some cases, this really could be a matter of life or death.
So, it’s not farfetched to say that of all the areas in which organisations absolutely must adopt a modern, on-demand mindset - customer service is right up there at the top.
The good news is that technology companies are listening and innovating.
Thanks to live chat and in particular Live Support, a lunch break wasted listening to phone queue music doesn’t need to be a reality for customers any more. How much more convenient it is for all parties concerned - both customer and customer service agent - to have a conversation via a chat messenger.
This revolution is a natural one following the evolution of human communication in recent years. Speak to any millennial about how they communicate with each other and the traditional phone call is almost a relic of the past.
If the only option for a customer working regular office hours to get needed information is to call or drop into an organisation’s headquarters during office hours, the lunch break phone queue is an inevitability. But replace this with the ability to message discreetly on their phone, whilst being able to leave gaps between responses when for example, their manager drops by their desk, and you have a far more convenient way to access the information required - all on the customer’s terms.
From the agent’s perspective, having the ability to leave short gaps between answers allows them to feasibly service multiple customers simultaneously, delivering a truly measurable RoI.
The fact that the communication is happening on a digital platform is also key. Rather than having to give lengthy verbal solutions to a particular problem, the CSA can send a direct link to a landing page with all of the step-by-step instructions needed to solve whatever issue the customer is faced with.
But that’s not to say the art of verbal customer service is dead. Far from it - new technologies are allowing agents to combine the advantages of web chat with the personal, qualitative nature of verbal conversation. A hybrid of messaging and calling can provide the perfect solution to a myriad of customer issues in an efficient and personal manner.
There are other advantages to this revolution which are perhaps less obvious. In certain circumstances – Housing Associations for example - tenants trying to work out how to report a repair online could be guided through, step-by-step with a live chat agent, with example screenshots being shared in the process.
Live Support functionality also gives you the opportunity to gather analytics on these conversations, build up knowledge bases where pre-populated answers could be at the fingertips of CSAs at the touch of a button.
We all know that self-service is a crucial area of concern for Social Housing and if we are wanting tenants, residents and customers to do more transactional actions online, then we should also provide a support network for them online also.
The possibilities are too many to fathom at this early stage in the customer service revolution, but one thing’s for sure - on-demand will only become more in-demand. And those organisations who take the lead will avoid becoming the modern-day equivalent of the TV guide.
To find out more about how Live Support could help you and your business get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01483 751 827.