When a stranger calls: The hidden generation of digital customers

When a stranger calls: The hidden generation of digital customers

There’s a new generation of customers. Customers who are more informed, more experienced and more digital. And they’re not answering your calls anymore.

If your organisation is still one of the few who only communicate with customers via a call centre, you are alienating a large portion of potential clients. The State of Global Customer Service Report by Microsoft showcased the rising expectations of digitally empowered customers. According to the report, 74% of customers aged between 18-34 have a more favourable view of brands that respond to customer service questions or complaints on social media, and 79% of customers in that age group prefer brands that offer a mobile-responsive customer service support portal. A surprising and sobering statistic for many large, traditional businesses.

But it’s not only technologically savvy Millennials who prefer engaging over digital mediums. 66% of global respondents of all ages stated that they prefer omni-channel services and actively use at least 3 channels to engage with businesses – a blind spot that is often overlooked by brands.

Despite these statistics, organisations have always been led to believe that customers prefer a more personal approach – hence the investment in call centres and phone calls. But not all transactions need to be personal. Let’s take the customer journey of buying a car as an example. Digital customers do all their research online and are often more informed than the sales representatives or call centre agents who contact them. When buying a car, they have done all the research and have essentially already made up their minds by the time they send through an enquiry. The only thing that the agent can really do at that point is talk the potential customer out of a sale.

Chances are, when a customer sends through a product enquiry, they have sent that same request to your competitors, and receiving call-backs on every enquiry instead of an online response on the digital medium they used is disruptive. Then there’s also the added frustrations of trying to spell out their name and address to the agent over the phone, dealing with agents who aren’t informed enough to deal with their questions, and having to repeat information over and over again while being transferred from agent to agent.

Where to from here?

It’s clear that customers are becoming more digital by the year and it’s often difficult to keep up with constantly-evolving trends. The world’s largest messenger apps – WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger – had a combined user base of over 4 billion at the end of 2019. The value in engaging, serving and selling to customers on these platforms is monumental.

Organisations who don’t have effective omni-channel strategies in place; inclusive of email comms, live chat functionality, instant messaging and call centres, are the ones stuck with a blind spot of customers they’ll never reach. These customers won’t complain about the lack of communication channels, but would rather move on to the next best service provider. Avoid these blind spots by asking your customers how they prefer to be contacted and taking active steps to offer more digital ways to engage with your products.

The truth is, a big portion of customers do still prefer the personal connection that phone calls offer and they should not be ignored. But in a digital world, alienating an entire generation of digital-only customers is dangerous when your competitors are always at their fingertips.

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