Understanding Instant messaging (IM) customer service

Posted by Kevin Hall
call centre

With SMS volumes in rapid decline, what does this mean for your contact centre and your customer service channels? In the past companies used SMS to contact their customers or advertise using SMS systems.

The decrease in SMS volumes doesn’t just mean customers are not spending and are trying to save money, the value proposition is behavior-based and not merely price-based.

As the age of the consumer base changes, their preference to use IM services becomes more complex and the strategy to service this segment becomes more important.

In the past providers simply used old SMS engines to service the chat environment, but never really understood the person they were trying to service, or the need for a more strategic customer journey on this channel.

Every channel or service method in your company needs a tailor made strategy to deal with that channel.

In the case of instant messages or chat engines on websites, the result of the conversation is often a transfer from chat to voice or e-mail. This dilutes the potency of effective goals such as first call resolution and other metrics. The term needs to also change to ‘First Contact Resolution’ because the method of communication should not affect the efficiency of the service.

Instant messaging (IM) clients are normally more tech savvy, they want videos that explain how to set up the system, or how-to videos that explain the solution. The expectation is an online knowledge base like a Wiki or some type of self-service engine.

When we dissect the type of person contacting you via their messaging service, they don’t want hours of chatting and breaking their thumbs trying to explain the requirements and understand your services. These customers are expecting faster response times, and exceptional real time resolution.

Let’s look at the journey, and design a user experience with the interface and the user in mind, instead of just focusing on the business process.

Do you have a resolution path, which enables the customer to resolve their own problems by using other media points, and possibly even screen sharing with the contact centre agent?

Telling the customer to simply make a phone call or send an e-mail means the company has not tried to resolve the problem with this specific IM contact channel.

We also need to manage and measure IM chat agents in the call centre very differently.

Simple user or chat time is not enough. The issues are also normally that most companies employ on user, to deal with multiple channels like voice / e-mail and chat. This lack of special skills to resolve IM chat queries means that the contact centre agent is normally using other skill sets to try and resolve issues, like sending the IM customer an e-mail with all the info, when the info could have been sent to the chat engine, or another application the person prefers.

A few helpful hints in the journey to ‘First Contact Resolution ‘on IM:

  • Understand why people are contacting you on IM
  • Create an IM experience by using content to educate
  • Develop metrics with the contact centre agent to measure unique outputs
  • Reward IM call centre agents with autonomy and other more complex tasks.
  • Understand your target market

Once you’ve answered some of these questions, develop a user friendly journey to service and understand the limitations of the help you can give a person using IM systems.

The goal is not to send all these prospective clients to e-mail or online interaction.

We need to service them on the communication channel they prefer, tailored to that interface, and based on the productivity of the contact centre as a whole.

The future of outbound Instant messaging services will be the ability to send advertising and other marketing content to the prospective customers using modern services.

Create IM groups and allow the customers to develop communities of users, with the ability to give those communities helpful information - and then predict their needs. This then creates loyal customers who feel their favorite brand is actually taking care of their needs.

The future of customer service in this space will always be ease of use, so focus on simplicity and the ability to offer your customer something to smile about today. Become their ‘go-to person’, and help them with the process of dealing with you effectively.

Elingo contact centre solutions include engage with customers on their preferred medium whether that is phone, email, SMS, social media, or online chat.

Learn more about our contact centre solutions and how we can take your centre environment to the next level.