From the early days of call-centres to the latest, cutting-edge AI-powered chatbots (https://promo.bankofamerica.com/erica/), customer support has been an ever-evolving focus in the banking industry. With retail banking making over 50% of a typical bank’s total revenue and the ease at which customers can leave a bank and join a new one, it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out why exceptional customer support matters.
But as high tech as customer support innovation has become and continues to evolve, does it solve the problem of providing exceptional customer support for mobile and time poor consumers? And does it do it in a way that is accessible to those that might not have the latest smartphones to install apps, the tech-savviness of young millenials to talk to a chat bot, or even hearing or vision impaired customers? With the understandable hatred people have for going through a dozen questions to be answered by “pressing 1 or 2 or 3” and 20 minute holds before speaking to an actual person, what choices do customers have to get the support they need?
An under-appreciated, under-utilised option that’s been right under our noses for over a decade is SMS. Texting a dedicated number managed by a team of customer service agents all managing multiple conversations at the same time, a customer seeking help can work, commute, Netflix and chill while getting his banking needs sorted. They’d receive an instant message back from an agent, requesting specific details, and resolving most issues within a handful of messages. And after resolving the matter, whether it be a transaction dispute or enabling overseas credit card spending for their next holiday, they’d receive an emailed message with the entire conversation history. The bank even sends a quick “How did we do?” survey by text.
Why use 20 year old tech?
Customer service research indicates that consumers need mobility, they don’t want to be hijacked by a 20 minute call or sit in front of their computer or iPad chatting to a bot. They want to be able to get on with their day. They want simplicity – whether they’re an 18 year old or 80 year old, they want customer support they can access on their device and in their language. And they want to be able to get support wherever they are in the world. SMS enables all of the above.
From a business perspective, the benefits of embracing SMS are vast, from the ability to manage multiple conversation and increase productivity, to the $0.60 engagement cost of SMS versus the $4.80 average engagement cost of a voice call. And from a customer psychology point-of-view, SMS removes the tension and strong feelings one can often face in a difficult customer support call, allowing customers to get right to the point in resolving their issues.
Give customers the gift of convenience
Statistics clearly indicate that more than 6 out of 10 customers prefer to deal with customer support through SMS, primarily because it allows them to respond when convenient. With CRM platforms like Jeeves.Plus, this enables customer convenience while allowing support teams to respond quickly with chat histories, customer notes, and language translation tools.
While new technology, AI, and machine learning has great potential to change the landscape of retail banking, it sometimes makes sense to use “old” tech in new ways. And it always benefits a business to keep the customer front of mind in developing customer support strategies.
David Hayes is the founder of Jeeves.Plus, which allows businesses and government organisations to talk to their customers on their own devices, in their language, anytime, anywhere.