Channel Pivot: How Switching From Voice to SMS Benefits Everyone

Whenever people call a business, they want information; they don’t necessarily want to speak with someone.  By forcing callers to go through a complicated phone tree, wait on hold before speaking with someone, or being asked to visit a website, the callers is being forced to go through extra steps that result in feelings of frustration. In fact, 81% of customers feel frustrated being tied to a phone or computer for customer support. By allowing the caller to opt-out of a complicated voice experience and into a more convenient channel such as SMS, you can show your customers that you honor their preferences.

This concept of channel pivot- or where a voice caller pivots away from the call and into a text chat by pressing a number on their keypad- is a great way to enhance the experience for both parties.

Text chat is pretty much what it sounds like: customers can text a company to chat with them. Getting a bit more technical, customers send a text message into a company, and an agent is notified through a web-based platform that a customer is waiting. Thanks to a seamless integration between SMS and web chat, agents answer on their computer, customers receive the message on their cell, and so the text chat goes.

One of the great things about text chat is that it empowers everyone. Instead of getting stuck on hold, customers can channel pivot between voice and text when they want without losing context. Instead of being restricted to one call at a time, agents can field multiple customer questions at once. And, instead of being helpless to respond to customer demand, companies can show customers they’re evolving to meet their needs by surprising them with text chat. But the benefits for the company don’t end there:

  • Improved customer experience: Over 40% of customers would prefer to switch from waiting on hold to texting with an agent, so letting customers choose how they want to communicate creates a way more satisfactory (not to mention quicker) experience. If they have a better time getting help with your product or service, they’ll be more likely to use it again. If they have a really, really good experience, they might just even rave about it to their friends.
  • Cost savings: According to a Forrester report, the average agent phone cost is between $6-20 depending on the type of call. Web chat, by comparison, only costs $2-5 per chat session; automating text chat lowers costs to just 25 cents per session. In theory, if a contact center directed 1/3 of its calls to text chat and automation, they could see an immediate 25% savings.
  • Audit trail: It’s a lot easier to keep track of a text conversation than a phone conversation, which can be both a blessing and a curse. If the auditors do come calling (or texting), text chat expedites the process since everything is already transcribed.
  • Training: Text chat is a great way for management to monitor the customer interactions of new hires. Instead of breathing down the employee’s neck during a call, bosses can back off a little and still make sure everything is going appropriately.
  • Optimization: Companies can best minimize costs and maximize the customer experience using text chat. It not only speeds up the entire service process, but it also increases the number of conversations agents can manage, and ultimately, the number of customer problems solved.

As the world becomes increasingly mobilized, support systems need to be able to keep pace. Text chat just does that: it meets customers where they are (on the go) without stopping them in their tracks. With that level of service, thumb-based support gets two thumbs up.

Photo by Flickr user by Marjan Lazarevski.

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