How brands provide customer service is changing. For years, when consumers had questions or problems to address, their options were to pick up the phone or send an email. Now new tools, such as chat technology and messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, are offering retailers the opportunity to widen their scope of communication.
Research from 7, a customer engagement software and services company, finds that chat technology is now the most popular way for consumers to interact with retailers while making a purchase.
The survey’s results support the idea that consumers are open to using chat and messaging technology – but they still highly value human interaction:
- 28.9% of consumers prefer to use chat technology when communicating with a retailer, over phone (28.7%) and email (27%)
- 28.5% prefer to chat with retailers on their websites, and 3.1% say messaging apps like Facebook Messenger are their top option
- 39% are willing to have automated conversations with chatbots, but only 10% prefer to always interact with a robot when talking to a retailer
- 26% will communicate with a brand through a messaging app like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, and this number rises to 39% for millennials age 18 to 34
- 62% prefer to interact with a human over a robot at all times, but 13% are fine with talking to a chatbot as long as they can easily switch to talking to a real person
Millennials in particular are open to use chat services and messaging apps; their frequent personal use of this type of technology is likely a major reason for this attitude. More than 37% of millennial consumers say chat is their favorite way to contact brands, compared to 23% who prefer email and 21% who prefer phone.
How Brands Can Make Chat & Messaging Appealing to Customers
Chat and messaging apps are still a relatively new way for consumers to interact with retailers. Brands can encourage their customers to adopt the technology by making it efficient and helpful.
Make it convenient
Meet customers where they are. If they are already using Facebook Messenger for personal use, make it simple for them to reach out to your brand using the same app. Respondents to the survey say they find messaging apps appealing because they can communicate at their own convenience, they can access their conversation history, and they already use these apps on their devices.
Millennial consumers are most likely to be early adopters of these new tools, but other groups may come around if you assuage their fears. Top concerns include security and privacy (28%) and distrust of third-party apps (12%). Educational content, such as video tutorials, FAQ pages and information on privacy protection, would be valuable to wary customers.
Use chat and messaging apps to answer customer questions and solve simple problems. Consider that 13% of consumers say they would abandon a shopping cart if they couldn’t find answers to their questions. Make it easy for customers to get answers quickly so they can proceed with their purchase.
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