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Talking to a friend, buying a shirt, or booking a flight is only a tap away on a digital device for most people. Digital technologies have made it possible to purchase products and services seamlessly using smartphones, tablets, and computers. These changes gave rise to the era of instant gratification and have also transformed the way customers talk to businesses.

No longer content to be put on hold or use cumbersome phone menus, people now reach out to companies via social media, emails, live chat, websites, messaging apps, and other digital channels. Gone is the era of phone-only support. Today’s customers want quick replies, asynchronous communication, and the freedom to decide where, when, and how much they are to interact with companies.

Some businesses might see these trends as a challenge. But this is also an opportunity to impress customers and meet them on their platforms of choice. Digital tools benefit contact centers as well because agents will be more productive and sophisticated cloud platforms make handling multiple communication channels easier than ever before.

The importance of going digital in customer service

Allowing customers to talk to your business in multiple channels will improve the quality of service and turn ordinary shoppers into brand advocates. In a study published by Microsoft, 96% of those surveyed said that customer service is important in their choice of, or loyalty to, a brand. Delivering great care also makes business sense. Seven in 10 U.S. consumers tend to spend more money with companies that provide great service, boosting their revenue and profit.

Failure to provide great care, however, can harm your business. Not replying to social media messages, for instance, causes a 43% decrease in customer advocacy. And the average American will tell 15 people about poor service, negatively impacting your bottom line. Ultimately, customer service can make or break your brand, which is why it’s important to do it right.

How customer service teams benefit from digital channels?

Incorporating digital channels into your customer service will make your agents more productive. Instead of being tied to a single phone call, they’ll now be able to handle multiple interactions at the same time. After replying to an inquiry received on Messenger and waiting for a response from customers, for example, they can answer a newly arrived email. (More on email productivity here.)

Dealing with several channels at once enables your team to provide faster answers and increase the case resolution rate.

Furthermore, when customers call into your support center, they’re typically diverted through the IVR to the agent with the skills needed to resolve that particular issue. But businesses can also use the IVR to divert calls to digital channels, such as live chat. And sophisticated communication platforms can use AI to route incoming messages to suitable agents. Smart algorithms can also categorize messages to sift through irrelevant data, bots, and spammers and enable agents to deal with the actual customers more effectively.

Fast replies and continuous improvements

Using digital channels to impress customers will take some planning though. For one, your team needs to be ready to reply to inquiries, reviews, and complaints as quickly as possible. Failure to do so might prompt customers to use another channel to escalate their concerns, buy less from you in the future, or complain publicly. Also, your team needs to have a plan for dealing with the inevitable negative comments.

Ideally, you would be able to respond or at least acknowledge every post and check-in on social media. Many comments can be viewed publicly, so businesses have an incentive to be attentive to all users.

Also, monitor customer service interactions to find patterns and insights that could help you to provide better care.

If there’s a problem that customers frequently complain about, your team can alert other business units about that. By doing so, you’ll ensure that customers stay happy while departments cooperate to continuously improve day-to-day processes.

Integrating various channels into a single interface

Another challenge when embracing digital customer service is that your agents will have to deal with messages split across multiple networks. This means they’ll often have to switch between different interfaces when attending to inquiries received via email, social media, and other channels. As a result, their productivity will suffer and the training cost will increase. Also, it’ll make it harder to collect and compare employee performance data, create a holistic view of each customer, and integrate new communication platforms.

A better solution would be to find an all-in-one customer service platform that lets you do everything, from automated tickets and calls to live chatbots and CRM integrations.

RingCentral Engage Digital offers these and many other features. It allows agents to respond to comments and messages on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. And instead of switching between messaging apps such as Messenger or WhatsApp, your team can handle customers through a single interface.

The platform also enables teams to manage their emails and monitor comments and ratings on Google my Business pages as well as Google Play. On top of that, customer interactions across different platforms are merged into a single identity providing agents with a clear context when dealing with inquiries. And your employees will be ever more productive as AI routes messages to agents with relevant skills.

If you want to integrate digital channels into your customer service, learn more about how RingCentral Engage Digital can help you achieve that goal. 

Originally published May 13, 2020, updated Dec 30, 2022

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