The way customers prefer to interact with businesses is changing, but are businesses adapting their customer service operations?
The Covid-19 pandemic has shaped how customers interact with companies, helping to breathe new life into chatbots which are fast becoming a favorite channel.
Capable of helping customers track packages and arrange pickups, chatbots are leading the transformation of customer service into a vastly different future. Instead of having only one option of reaching an advisor over the phone, consumers can now choose from a wide range of customer service solutions across multiple channels.
Research by conversational commerce solution provider LivePerson has shown that messaging options, in particular, are gaining traction with consumers, especially those from a younger demographic. Up to 65 percent of consumers worldwide want the ability to message with brands, while most who have used a chatbot with businesses have done so for customer care purposes.
This means self-service tools like chatbots are no longer a nice-to-have, but a necessity. With these tools, consumers can gain access to a faster solution to support questions. Meanwhile, customer service teams can better dedicate their time to customers with more complex and immediate needs.
Covid-19: A catalyst for digital transformation
Companies have gradually recognized the role of technology in delivering a contextual, personalized and seamless overall customer experience.
If any doubt remained on the need to pursue digital transformation in customer service, the Covid-19 pandemic should have quickly quashed it.
With movement restrictions due to the pandemic, technology has been crucial in keeping the world connected and providing access to basic needs.
According to a Google report on Southeast Asia’s digital economy, there was a marked increase in digital engagement during the pandemic last year. Consumers, of whom some only came online during Covid-19, were spending more time online per day, mainly due to lockdowns and work-from-home arrangements.
The report also revealed that eight out of 10 consumers found technology helpful in dealing with the pandemic, and 94 percent of new digital service consumers were likely to continue with the service post-Covid-19.
This distinct shift in consumer behavior from offline to online suggests a massive opportunity for companies and industries. It underscores the importance of being proactive and engaging through digital channels, which are emerging as the preferred mode of interaction for customers.
Many businesses have taken the opportunity to introduce changes during the pandemic. A global survey of executives by consulting firm McKinsey revealed a significant seven-year increase, on average, in the rate at which companies have sped up the development of new and improved digital customer interaction offerings amid Covid-19.
Putting customers first
For a fast-moving industry like logistics or e-commerce, it is crucial to provide prompt customer service to resolve pressing issues with time-sensitive shipments. Equally, providing greater convenience and accessibility will redefine the customer experience, and thereby create brand value and loyalty.
In June last year, DHL Express launched the Digital Assistant feature as a 24/7 customer service alternative to complement the customer service hotline and the website’s live chat function. Available on the myDHL+ platform and messaging applications such as WhatsApp and line, the mobile-friendly assistant can instantly address commonly asked questions on shipments and provide customers with bite-sized shipping information and tracking on-the-go.
Customers can also easily generate a quote for their shipments through this tool. For critical or more complex service issues, the Assistant can redirect customers to DHL’s customer service personnel for real-time assistance.
Less than a year since its launch, the Digital Assistant has achieved a high adoption rate among customers seeking help for their enquiries.
Beyond customer service operations, technology has also enabled DHL Express to offer greater convenience and flexibility to customers in planning their last-mile deliveries with platforms such as “On Demand Delivery”. The flexibility of redirecting deliveries benefits both customers who can’t wait around for a parcel and couriers who can optimize their routes with real-time tracking of requests.
In an era where buyers are increasingly opening their doors rather than walking through doors for their wants and needs, companies need to consider the many touch points along their consumption journey to secure their brand and customer experience. Starting with the chatbot.
Ken Lee is the CEO of DHL Express Asia Pacific