Will email become extinct as a customer service tool?

shutterstock_172545941Itís hard to imagine a time when we didnít have access to email and what was once considered to be an instantaneous form of communication.

But the fact that email isnít actioned in real time, (but requires receipt and responses to be delivered via servers) may signal its demise over the next few years.

Instant messaging is delivered in real time, and the exponential growth of cloud- based communications, including social media, means consumers have high expectations when it comes to response times to their messages and requests.

Some 59 per cent of the UK population now have social media accounts, with 32 million accessing these accounts through a mobile device. It has become ever more vital for companies to adopt an omni-channel approach to serving customers, meeting the needs of consumers who are actively mobile and constantly communicating.

Advanced cloud-based technologies mean that the customer can now potentially have even more real-time connections with service providers, via web chat, social media platforms and SMS for example. The impact on contact centres means that the technical capabilities are now required to meet those demands and more channels need to be actively and consistently monitored.

Customers are now used to being able to make choices about how and when they contact service providers. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform that enables SMS, web chat, telephone, email and social media-based interaction ensures customers have those choices. A customer working from 9-5 in an open plan office environment, for example, might only be able to communicate via working hours, but prefer to do so privately via web chat on their mobile phone. The interaction is kept private and personal (via their own device) but also remains direct as they communicate with one operative online.

shutterstock_87109075Response times, no matter what the channel, are still extremely important and multi-channel services require consistent and Ďhumaní interaction, whether thatís via text message or phone call. Key to this is gathering data and real-time customer tracking information to ensure that no matter what the communication preference, (and the choice may change) the experience is seamless.

Add to this scenario the growth of customer self-service options and the need to capture, measure and analyse data from the range of multi-channel touch points is even more crucial.

Some of the most recent Oracle Service Cloud updates include additional functionality via social media platforms. Our most recent report on the latest updates focused on the introduction of a new Community Self Service platform. The peer-to-peer question and answer application further streamlines the customer journey and enables interaction with other users in addition to customer service agents.

This growth in collaborative customer service is also something weíll see more of in future, as advice, feedback and recommendations from customers become a more integral part of information banks used by companies.

Email will remain a communication tool for some time to come but weíre already seeing it evolve and change, as it becomes less used for customer outreach and more used for newsletter and special offer content distribution.

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