To Heck with Email, I Want Instant Answers! Why Chat and Chatbots are a Better Idea

[24] | April 04, 2017

I’m one of the increasingly rare people that still subscribes to a daily newspaper (okay, call me a dinosaur). Reading the morning paper has been a part of my daily routine for decades. A few weeks ago, I had an issue with the paper delivery when the previously rare California rains rendered the paper soaking wet. I went to their website to try to get a replacement paper. Unfortunately, the only options were calling an 1800 number and email. At 6am, the last thing I want to do is deal with a phone tree and be put on hold, so I decided to send an email and figured I’d get a response in a matter of a few minutes – maybe an hour at most. I mean, they’re customer service must be ready for this type of thing, especially on rainy days…right?

I never got a new paper. What happened while I waited? I got frustrated. Did they get my email? Did they care? Ultimately, it was more than a week later before I got a response. MORE THAN A WEEK!

In a situation where the company could have stepped up to help retain a loyal client in a market where every customer should be near and dear to their hearts, the lack of response made me upset. And, since I work for a customer service technology company, I had to ask myself, why are they offering a channel that they can’t apparently staff or manage properly?

What could they have done differently? Offering a chatbot or intelligent chat on the website so when I click on “Issues with your delivery” it would start my interaction it would say, “Kevin, I see that you did have an issue with your delivery. I’m sorry about that. A replacement will be delivered within one hour.” Advances in chatbot and AI technology make these interactions a reality, and can help companies avoid the perils and pitfalls of traditional channels.

Let’s face it, tools like chatbots and online chat are what people want. In a recent [24] survey, digital chat led the way regarding consumer preferences when interacting with a brand’s customer service team, with one in five consumers saying that having a query resolved would make them more loyal to a brand. Why? These solutions provide consumers access with instant information and instant satisfaction. Instead of waiting minutes, hours, or days for someone to respond, I’m immediately able to interact with a brand. They have a chance to address my concern in real-time and solve my problem (or, if I’m trying to buy something, close the sale instead of having me abandon my purchase while I wait for a reply). Compared to antiquated email, there’s no waiting period of hours or days. The next communication is only an away.

An additional benefit for the company is that when I’m interacting in real-time, it means that I’m less likely to get frustrated and spread my frustration or experience with others on social media, thereby keeping my concern to myself.

Today, customers want to interact digitally, and they want instant gratification. Email simply doesn’t cut it when it comes to providing quality customer service that improves customer satisfaction and creates customer loyalty. Solutions like online chat or chatbots are a far better idea.

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