Live chat is becoming the new next big thing in customer service. And, judging by some recent informal polling conducted over dinner, South African consumers seem to love it. It’s easy to see why if one considers how we like to communicate these days. Text is king. Few of us relish dialing into a call centre for reasons as simple as the fact that most local consumers do from our cellphones and mobile calls to customer care centres still aren’t toll free.
Aside from how we communicate in 2016, let’s also look at when we communicate. The explosive recent growth in free Wi-Fi hotspots means many South Africans are doing their admin in coffee shops and other semi-public areas. This, of course, means few of us are comfortable dialing a contact centre and having a very public and loud spat with whatever large corporation is annoying us that week. Even if hundreds of thousands of us do still work in traditional office environments with desk phones, the ever-popular open plan design again means text-based communication with call centre agents is preferred for privacy reasons. How utterly convenient to be able to engage in written customer communication while one’s furious keyboard typing is mistaken for work by impressed colleagues.
When it has become so obvious what connected people prefer, it’s disappointing to read that over 70% of online retailers do not care enough about their customers to properly address their communication preferences, according to OpenMarket research after polling a selection of online retail operations.
The eye-opening research revealed that 64% of consumers prefer texting vs a voice call for customer service needs and another 81% are frustrated being tied to a phone or computer in order to reach a company.
This seems to suggest a whole series of golden opportunities for switched-on mobile marketers whose go-to technology is very often text-based. I am thinking specifically of in-app text-based communication, and also InTarget’s very own proprietary USSD menu-driven mobile marketing solution. Our USSD product has found favour with a growing number of market research firms who use it to conduct consumer research. However, it can be just as easily tweaked as an effective live chat solution.
The results for mobile marketers will be well worth it. The research referenced above also found that 77% of consumers have a positive perception of companies who use text messaging.