What is digital customer service?
Digital customer service means providing support to consumers through digital channels like chat, email, text (SMS), social media, messaging apps, and more. The number of digital channels now outnumbers more traditional channels like phone, mail, and face-to-face, and digital channel options will continue to grow as new technologies are introduced. Customers that use digital customer service are able to interact with businesses using smartphones, computers, and tablets.
Why do consumers value digital customer service?
Digital customer service fits into people's lifestyles. Globally, there are 3.5 billion smartphone users. In the US, 81% of people have smartphones. These smartphone owners use them to text, post on social media, FaceTime their friends, shop online, and so much more. It only makes sense that they also want to use their mobile devices when they need customer support. It's a digital world and people are used to being able to run their lives with phones.
Consumers also value the convenience and speed offered by many digital channels. As an example, say you noticed some unusual charges on your credit card and you're worried your number has been stolen. Time is of the essence in this scenario, but you're in a noisy train station, not conducive to a phone call. So you initiate a chat session with your credit card company and their agent not only responds immediately, but also cancels your card and issues a new one while your chatting. That's both convenient and fast.
Now, let's say you ordered a new night stand from an online retailer and it arrived with a damaged top. Time isn't really a consideration for you, but you do want to be able to provide a lot of information, including photos. In this case, you might send an email to the company and include a couple of photos of the damage. You're OK with the timing when the company responds the next day with a satisfactory resolution. It may not have been a fast method, but it was really convenient. You, as an empowered consumer, got to choose the method of digital customer service that met your needs.
Why do businesses offer digital customer service? What's in it for them?
First and foremost, businesses should offer digital customer service because of the consumer demand discussed above. Organizations are increasingly competing based on customer experience, making their customer service execution more important than ever. This includes offering communication options.
Additionally, digital channels are potentially a lower cost way to support customers, especially if they include self-service options. A well-designed website support section or a company app that supports self-service tasks can help organizations reduce labor costs. Additionally, channels such as chat can be a more efficient method of agent-assisted support because agents can work multiple chat sessions simultaneously.