Every industry needs customer support. Customers have questions before they decide to make a purchase, need help when going through a sign-up flow and need real-time support when they’re having a problem that needs quick resolution.
That’s why it’s important to offer customer support across multiple channels. Some service requests can be completed through email and text, like an order update, or need live support to resolve an immediate problem like a banking fraud alert.
This is why companies need to provide different channels that can address the urgency and complexity of issues. A single channel isn’t versatile enough to offer an entire support experience that caters to all issues.
Who needs great customer support?
Now most banks offer a mobile app allowing customers to check balances, transfer funds and pay bills. Some technically savvy banks allow customers to apply for loans or submit claims directly through the app. The most common use of mobile banking is to digitally deposit checks with the smartphone camera. As mobile banking matures, more features can be included in a single app making it possible for customers to do all banking online.
Why does banking need great customer support?
Account security should be the highest priority for banks. Customers trust institutions to keep their information safe. But even with the highest security, banks can’t protect against every risk to customers like credit card spoofing, fraud and more.
There are a lot of services that banks offer its customers, and it’s important that it has agents who can speak to each product. Being able to aggregate customer information can help ease frustration and help speed up issue resolution. When customers call their bank it’s usually for an account issue. To raise customer satisfaction, agents need to be able to solve issues with the least amount of frustration.
What types of customer support should banks offer?
Mobile banking is still maturing and not every product is included in the app. It’s important that customers can call in and speak to an agent quickly to address urgent issues like fraud, debit and credit spending while traveling or to speak about a loan or claim.
IVR is useful for customers who have a question that can be solved through self-serve means. Is a customer curious to know how to change a debit card PIN? This can be answered through an IVR tree. Both voice and IVR are great channels if customers can find the answers they need quickly.
One of the most annoying parts of banking customer support is trying to remember security answers or phrases. Banks can make this easier by allowing customers to verify themselves through the app with fingerprint authentication or pushing a text code to the phone.
Depending on issue complexity, speaking directly to an agent on the phone might be the best solution. But for some support issues, a live chat can also resolve issues quickly. Do you need a new debit or credit card? Start a chat with an agent, request a new card, verify the address and end the chat. Instead of having to go through a phone call, chat can provide a quick and convenient solution for lower priority issues.
Banks require customers to submit a contact phone number, and it’s common for banks to send text notifications. Text should be a default support option for priority updates like account balance or fraud notifications. Text can be added if a bank’s CRM can accept media like photos or video for personal documents that might be needed for loans or other products.
Even though customers can use a banking app for most things, sometimes it’s easier to perform tasks through a browser. Some customers might not use the mobile app and prefer to manage their accounts in a browser only. This is why web chat should be available, at least during normal business hours.
It might not be possible to speak on the phone and web chat is the more convenient option. Microsoft’s State of Global Customer Service 2017 report found that 47% of its respondents used live chat. Agents can mirror the same options on the phone, just through a website chat option.
On-demand services (delivery and rideshare)
On-demand is an industry that offers products when customers want them. These on-demand services are becoming ubiquitous in everyday life. Companies like Instacart, Postmates, Uber Eats, DoorDash and Grubhub offer delivery services for food, groceries and products from brick-and-mortar stores.
Uber and Lyft are the two largest rideshare companies offering rides anywhere for a price. Even though food and rideshare are the two most popular segments offered, other companies are trying to disrupt old systems and offer customer convenience through on-demand services.
Why does on-demand need great customer support?
The foundation is urgency. Customers who order food want it to arrive fast and hot. Grocery customers want delivery to arrive at their convenience so they don’t have to go to the store themselves. Customers looking for a ride want it as soon as possible. On-demand is centered around customer convenience and customer support should be follow the same ideals.
What types of customer support should on-demand offer?
Customer support issues with deliveries are urgent. Common food delivery issues are the wrong food was delivered, the food was cold or the delivery is late. Grocery deliveries can include many of the same problems. The entire order wasn’t completed, wrong items were bought and more.
Rideshare companies need real-time voice and IVR because when issues happen, customers need to talk to someone that moment - not wait from a response from a slower communication channel. Also on-demand businesses have multiple customers like drivers and the sellers that will also need support. These customers will need assistance with their own service issues.
With voice and IVR, the most common issues can be routed to agents who are assigned these issues. Even though these on-demand apps allow you to contact your delivery driver, an extra level of support has to come directly from the company. Drivers can contact with real-time issues like the food is still being prepared or a store doesn’t have a specific item, but after delivery, it’s up to the company to solve customer problems.
Rideshare agents need to be able to see customer information like suggested routes, trips taken and getting context on why the customer would be contacting support at that moment. Security during rideshare is very important and having a direct channel is very important. Voice is perfect for urgent issues and companies need to offer this channel.
Post-delivery, customers usually receive a notification to rate their experience. Customer ratings are key in marketing the service. Companies should also offer the option to speak to an agent if the experience didn’t reach expectations.
On-demand delivery apps do offer contact options, but customers either have to go through self-serve options or use a FAQ which doesn’t relate to their specific issues when they really want to communicate with someone now.
Rideshare apps let customers monitor the trip so it should be standard that during peak hours, companies offer chat to address issues during rides. If drivers are taking longer routes to attempt to raise the trip cost, customers should be able to contact support and let them know so it can correct these issues in real time.
In-app chat or even a chatbot would let customers communicate problems in the moment, rather than allow the customer to grow more angry and frustrated with their experience, which could lead them to using a competitor - just because their customer support experience was negative. 82% of customers left a company because of bad customer support according to GrooveHQ.
On-demand apps allow customers and drivers to communicate through apps as necessary. Some on-demand companies ask for feedback through text after delivery, but this can be expanded to allow customers to send delivery photos or video as necessary.
If live chat isn’t an option, sending a text message creates a timestamp for an issue. On-demand companies require phone numbers to use the services and this can be connected to customer account history so if there are consistent issues, they can be addressed.
Mobile Phone Carriers
Mobile phones have largely replaced landlines, Pew Research reports that 95% of Americans own a cell phone. Not everyone uses a smartphone, but people still need cellular service either for business or personal reasons. Carriers do offer options like speed dial, direct text and mobile apps, but carriers don’t offer a high level of customer service that they should - considering carriers are supplying communication infrastructure.
Why do mobile phone carriers need great customer support?
While businesses may still have landlines, most consumers communicate through a mobile device. These devices connect people together multiple ways like voice, text, social media apps, photo sharing and other platforms. All these devices rely on an internet data connection supplied by the provider.
While common support contact will be for billing, data overages and other issues, other problems might be for device support or emergencies. If a customer can’t find out the answer they urgently need, that support interaction has failed.
What types of customer support should mobile phone carriers offer?
Voice and IVR are already options for mobile carriers. The problem is that it takes too long for customers to get issues resolved through these channels. Providers need to streamline and find solutions to properly route calls where they need to go to avoid multiple transfer and increase customer frustration.
Customer personalization is a great solution because they are calling with a known number which should aggregate their information. Customers shouldn’t have to verify themselves repeatedly with multiple agents.
Mobile carriers know a lot about its customers. The IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number in phones makes sure the phone is allowed on the network. Carriers keep records of this information and linked to the customer’s mobile plan.
Along with the phone number, carriers should be able to verify customers without going through many steps. Now with fingerprint and face verification, carriers need to offer better ways to verify customers rather than the standard name, address and password options.
Mobile carriers have mobile apps. The most common features are to see data usage or up-sell customers to new plans. In-app chat can supplement voice and IVR options by offering an extra communication channel. Self-service should be available in-app, but in-app chat should be supported as well.
If a customer goes through all the self-service options, they should then be able to talk to a support agent about their concerns. Since the customer is using the carrier’s app, customer information should be available to give agents context about why the customer may be reaching out.
Like phone and IVR, text can be used for simple information like plan information. Text is a useful option for customers who still use feature phones (phones without internet access) to have support conversations.
Like banking, some customers don’t want to install a mobile app. Carriers should offer web chat for current customers and potential customers who have questions. Even though carriers have voice support and retail locations, chat is a perfect place to answer basic questions. A chatbot could lead people through frequently asked questions or provide an access point to reach a specific agent.
Most retailers have an online store, even those that have a brick-and-mortar location. Online retail is becoming the standard. Amazon is the biggest online retailer and supplies the logistics for many online businesses.
Even though people may want to purchase big ticket items in person, a growing number of smaller purchases are completed online. Online purchasing is expanding to subscription companies and even apps that help customers sell bigger items like cars.
Why do online retailers need great customer support?
Retail encompasses many different products, each with its own requirements like availability, shipping and returns. Customers want the option to contact customer support with any product issues, account questions or delivery issues.
As online retail grows year over year, it’s this industry that needs to integrate the most modern support technology. More customers will purchase online and have the same instant gratification expectations they achieve when purchasing in person.
What type of support should online retailers offer?
This is a requirement for online retail. There are so many variables for retail from product questions, payments, returns, product support and even delivery tracking - all of which can contain common and uncommon questions. Many inquiries can be answered through a developed IVR menu, but harder questions should be handled by an experienced agent.
Most major retailers have a dedicated mobile app. Within the app, support should be easy to find and available for customers. In-app chat is perfect for customers who have received orders, but have issues like returns, damaged products and more. If the product is defective, the agent can request a photo or video to confirm the issue. Package damage can also be easily confirmed with a photo.
Another great option for in-app chat is that the company will be able to verify and browse customer account history easily. Agents can confirm information like shipment addresses, verifying customer information with text rather than audio and troubleshoot much easier with video rather than attempt to figure out the issue through a verbal description.
Text is helpful for sending updates. While tracking might be a one-way communication, retailers should consider offering customers the option to use text as another communication channel.
It can be limited in scope, like sending a photo or video to an agent if the customer isn’t using a branded app, rather than a full scale chat platform. With 77% of Americans owning a smartphone, text should be a standard channel.
Retail customers tend to do research online before purchasing and may have a lot of questions. With online retail becoming the primary retail channel, customers will expect multiple digital options to reach support. By including chat on the website, retailers can assure customers that their questions will be answered, and in the process, begin to build customer loyalty.
When people travel, they spend a lot of time researching the best time to travel and the best deal they can get. Sometimes they book directly with an airline or hotel or use a travel search website to buy an inclusive package.
This initial interaction is a great place to start offering support to customers. Traveling should be an exciting and positive experience for everyone, and any negative experience can ruin a brand’s image with new customers.
Why does the travel industry need great customer support?
When problems like cancelled flights, lost reservations or rebooking happen, customers need to speak to an agent urgently. Since these incidents usually happen last minute, customers feel immediate stress and want a solution as soon as possible.
When flights get cancelled, it can affect more than 100 people at once. This means that agents are immediately overwhelmed with contact volume and when combined with stressed customers, it creates a difficult support situation.
Hospitality companies use voice and IVR. The problem is that the systems aren’t agile enough to address the urgency of issues. Common options like booking and checking reservations are available, but when issues like overbooking or lost reservations happen, customers want to talk to someone immediately and not have to work through IVR menus.
Instead of listening to long IVR menus, customers can be given a direct number that routes them to an agent who can work to resolve the issue or affected customers can be notified proactively via text with rebooking options.
Most major airlines and hotels have mobile apps. Airline apps let customers book flights, check status and browse options offered by the airline or partners. Hotels apps are similar. They may include promotions or membership benefits to engage customers to sign up among other things.
On the customer support side, these apps push customers to call support through a phone number. While companies might think it’s easier to support customers through the phone, some requests can be completed quicker through chat.
If chat support is included, agents can already have access to the customer account history. When customers are logged into the app, their account history can be provided to the agent at the start of the interaction.
Airlines use text to provide flight notifications as a standard feature. Customers have to opt-in to receive text messages, so this shouldn’t be the only channel used to communicate important information. A further note of caution, sometimes updates don’t arrive in real-time.
Still, many consumers now prefer text notifications. Hotels can use text to confirm reservations, giving customers reassurance that bookings are in the hotel systems. Text could also be used to gather customer feedback, such as customer satisfaction ratings
Provide support channels that address the complexity and urgency of the issue
Customer support has moved beyond sending an email or only offering a phone number. Even though a voice call is the most familiar connection, it may not be the most efficient anymore. There isn’t an all-in-one customer support channel that can address every single situation.
Companies need to adopt multiple channels that align to the urgency and complexity of the support issue. Voice might be a catch-all, but it won’t provide all the context an agent needs strictly through verbal explanation.
That can be accomplished through a photo or video - which could be through the use of text, in-app or web chat that has attachment support. Optimizing voice calls with intelligent routing can help by sending customers to the right agent and improving resolution times, but this isn’t a total solution.
To be successful in customer support, companies need to realize that customers are different and have preferred communication channels. At the very least, companies should utilize smartphone features to offer customer service to give customers more options.
These five industries are a mix of old and new, but they are also ones that need great customer support. If a company wants to be a customer service leader and increase brand loyalty, it needs to make the customer service experience a high priority.