Digital transformation is one of the most important trends shaping the future of business. Digital transformation changes the way in which companies sell, market, operate and scale in an increasingly digital economy. But this transformation is not without its challenges. The rise in multichannel touchpoints has complicated the end-to-end customer journey. Increased use of mobile devices that enable easy access to a multitude of channels further complicates the management of customer journeys. And yet, customers expect to receive consistent and personalized experiences—no matter which channel they use. Digital engagement channels that customers use to connect with you are a key component of an overall digital transformation strategy.

Following the Generational Shift

Consumers are more knowledgeable and demanding than ever, and that changes their perspective on channels. But these perspectives vary greatly based on geography and age groups. Millennials are driving the use and preference of digital engagement channels.

To most pre-millennial generations, technology is a great tool for solving problems. To millennials and members of Generation Z, technology is an extension of themselves. They use it intuitively, and expect everyone else to do the same. After all, they have never been without it—and they have no reason to expect to be without it in the future. This also holds true for agents and service representatives from these eras. They are digital natives who expect all their experiences to mimic their day-to-day mobile technology use.

Millennial channel use shows a greater variety than that of older age groups. They favor an omnichannel approach to customer service interaction. While 58% of millennials use mobile messaging, the use of modern channels for customer service and support interactions decline dramatically among older generations.

Millennial channel preference is more evenly distributed than either of the older age groups, with lower preferences for website and email, but significantly higher preferences for mobile messaging, including messaging apps, texting, social media and chatbots. This research found that 70% of millennials show a strong preference for mobile marketing.  Older generations, however, strongly prefer a voice interaction.

The differences between millennial use versus preference is even more striking. The preference for mobile messaging jumps to 12% among millennials, while preference for all other channels drops significantly, including a 15% drop in voice preference.

  • Customer Service/Support Channels Used

  • Customer Service/Support Channels Preferred

  • Customer Service/Support Channels Used and Preferred

  • Customer Service/Support Channels Satisfaction

Regional Variations

Digital Engagement Drivers From Region to Region

Consumers in Latin America and Asia Pacific regions are at the forefront of the shift toward digital engagement channels. Use of all digital channels is highest in Latin America, followed closely by Asia Pacific, demonstrating strong omnichannel use in those regions. Mobile messaging is less prevalent in North America and Europe.

Globally, the preference to speak with a live agent remains high; however, respondents in Latin America prefer mobile messaging over voice as the preferred channel.

The Rise of Mobile Messaging

Where Mobile and Asynchronous Communication Fit

The use of mobile messaging and asynchronous communication is on the rise. Mobile messaging apps have become a communication phenomenon; their convenience and ease of use push them to the top of the list as a preferred engagement channel for billions of consumers.

Approximately 50% of consumers will use mobile messaging apps for customer service and support. Another 28% are willing to give mobile messaging a chance. In Latin America, preference for mobile messaging is overtaking voice.

 

 

According to respondents who prefer to use mobile messaging apps for customer service and support, this engagement channel allows them to multitask. Some respondents also found that mobile messaging makes it easier to explain their situation or problem, compared to relaying that same message over the phone. 

According to this research, top consumer use of messaging apps globally includes Facebook Messenger, Skype and WhatsApp.

The age range of respondents using mobile messaging, especially Facebook Messenger, is broad. More than 80% of millennials use Facebook Messenger, as do more than 50% of generation Xers—age 35-54.

  • Consumers: How willing are you to use a messaging app for your customer service/support interactions?

  • Consumers: Any messaging app usage

“I prefer messaging because it is easier to explain the situation and because I can do it while doing other activities—without having to wait until someone becomes available.”

—Consumer survey respondent

Why Messaging Popularity Continues to Rise

Businesses are attracted to mobile messaging because of its continual and persistent nature. It provides a record of a continuous dialogue with a customer. This continuous conversation can be picked up at any time, by any bot, agent or representative, right where it left off.

While a voice conversation is still the preferred interaction method for most consumers, 53% of businesses consider the ability to support messaging apps as very important. Business support considerations are highest in Latin America and Asia Pacific regions, at more than 70%. Those rates drop to 27% in North America.  

Messaging apps that businesses use or plan to use globally in their customer service and support centers include Facebook Messenger, Google Messenger and WhatsApp—ranked by use in that order. However, applications like Kik and Hangouts messaging show the largest expected growth.

Marketing and lead generation also are using messaging apps to attract and interact with prospective customers. Facebook Messenger still holds the top spot, but the messaging app Kik is seeing the largest growth opportunity.

 

Social Media Engagement and Sharing

Avoid the PR Nightmare

It’s common for customers to use social media to engage with brands. While this has typically been managed manually within an organization’s marketing department, more companies choose software tools that automatically sort, analyze and route these engagements to an appropriate person. By managing these engagements as you would any other channel, you can respond quickly to customer issues that could otherwise turn into public relations nightmares.

Social Engagement

In the Genesys State of Customer Experience survey, we asked consumers about their use of social media as an interaction channel for customer service and support.

  • Consumers in Asia Pacific and Latin America regions are most likely to use social media. North American consumers are least likely to use it.
  • Of consumers in Latin America, 54% use Facebook.

Social Sharing

When asked about their habits for sharing good and bad experiences via social media:

  • Overall, 35% of consumers would share a great experience on social media, while only 21% would share a negative or bad experience.
  • Twenty-four percent of consumers would never share on social media, regardless of the experience.
  • Consumers posted their experiences on personal Facebook pages most often, followed by the Facebook page of company with which they dealt.
  • Have you ever shared a customer service or support experience on a social networking site?

  • Which of the following best describes how you shared your experience?

  • Did the company respond to your social media post to your satisfaction?

Consumers also were asked if the business responded to their post to their satisfaction. Respondents in Asia Pacific and Latin America regions indicated that businesses did respond satisfactorily most of the time (81% and 75%, respectively). However, North American respondents indicated that businesses offered a satisfactory response just over half the time. Overwhelmingly, millennials are more likely to share a positive experience on social media than older age groups are; 42% of 55-and-over consumers likely will not post an experience with a business on social media.

Customer Care Social Tools

Executives in customer care were asked what social tools they use to manage social engagements, including social media dashboards/reporting, social media analytics and a message routing engine.

  • Respondents in Asia Pacific regions are twice as likely to have social media reporting and dashboards as North American customer care respondents are; respondents in Latin America regions are significantly more likely than all other segments to have social media analytics at their disposal.
  • Nearly half of North American customer care respondents indicated they do not have any of the tools listed.

Social Engagement Requires Balance

“I hate using the phone, but I also don't want to connect my social media profiles to random companies for support. I don't trust them to not spam me.”

—Consumer survey respondent

It’s essential to exercise care, separating service and support engagements from marketing efforts. Some consumers would like to use social media for service and support but, at the same time, those consumers fear being bombarded with offers and ads. It’s important to clearly understand your customers wants, needs and preferences (see Chapter 3: Personalization vs. Privacy  ).

Where to Start With Digital Engagement

1. Analyze Customer Journeys

Understand your existing customer needs and journeys. Look for situations where customers have connected with your business multiple times—across channels—to solve the same problem.

Identify:

  • The underlying reason the issue wasn’t resolved the first time.
  • If the customer had to repeat their request each time they connected with you.
  • Whether information is shared across each of your engagement channels and touchpoints.

Don’t treat voice as a silo; digital engagement channels should enable a voice escalation, when needed.

2. Include Self-Service and Automation

Make sure that you seamlessly integrate self-service and assisted service over digital engagement channels to get the best of both worlds. Consider what self-service channels you have in place today as well as what plans you have for the future, such as using other forms of automation like bots or artificial intelligence. Self-service and automation can reduce costs and streamline the experience, but you need to include them in your overall plans.

3. Create a Plan

Consider investing in new asynchronous messaging channels. Develop a plan for using asynchronous messaging as part of customer acquisition (lead generation), customer service and ongoing support. Determine how you’ll use persistent context across various business groups to improve process and streamline the customer journey. Vet the plan across all business units and ensure that messaging is an integrated piece of the overall omnichannel experience.

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