Instant messaging systems can be a huge boost to productivity, or just a handy way to keep in touch with friends. That small window in a separate program—or even in some cases built right into a Web browser—can easily allow a person to connect to another. A new report from Aspect (News - Alert) Software says that messaging is only going to gain ground in the short term, and this is a trend smart businesses should brace for.
The Aspect Customer Experience Index revealed several surprising points, perhaps the biggest of which was that 38 percent of customers wanted to use messaging apps to get in touch with customer service over using the phone. That by itself is a hit but throw in word from Dimension Data (News - Alert) that says customer support organizations expect a 35 percent drop in voice interactions just within the next two years and the reality hits home. Customers don't just want this to happen; they're likely to make it happen, one way or another.
A combination of factors is driving this shift; not only do customers want in general to segue into non-verbal communication, but also, frustration with customer service is driving a change. Last year, Aspect studies found that 32 percent of respondents, if given a choice, would rather clean a toilet than call customer service. In the year that followed, that number rose to 42 percent.
Messaging itself is also becoming more popular, and customers want different ways to interact with popular brands. Using messaging is coming into play on several fronts, with 43 percent of respondents in a survey wanting to order food by message, and 41 percent wanting to handle online shopping—particularly shipping, changing, or tracking packages—that way. Doctor's appointments came in 33 percent of the time, and 26 percent wanted it for Uber rides. Twenty-two percent were interested in it for bank account balance and activity checking, and 21 percent liked the idea of it for hotel or rental car reservations.
Yet another function of the basic marketing principle “go where the customers are,” the rise of messaging's importance is—or at least should be—prompting substantial changes throughout the field. Customers want other ways to connect to businesses, and messaging is just the start of that. Web-based chat, social media chat—which are both really kinds of messaging in a way—are also part of things, and including self-service options for those customers who don't want to make contact at all are all part of a proper balance.
In the end, it's all about what the customer wants, and the customer clearly doesn't want to be on the phone near as often as is currently the case. Augmenting the messaging lineup will be a great way to provide what those customers want, and keep them from jumping ship for the businesses that will provide what the customer wants.