How to Have Less Impersonal Conversations With Your Customers

We recently came across these two articles from intercom “Redesigning in-app messaging” and Buffer “Buffer August Update” and several arguments resonated with our vision concerning the topic of how to have worthwhile conversations with your customers.

“We believe in the value of personal conversations between businesses and customers. We believe the future of customer communications will be much more like the chats you have with friends, and much less like tickets, applications and transactions that you formally submit to siloed departments.” @intercom

and

“We’re very excited to start to transition some of our “back and forth” customer support channels like email to more conversational channels such as live chat. We’ve also started experimenting with voice-based customer support.” @buffer

As a phone company we’re totally aligned with this and think that voice will be an essential medium for online companies to communicate with their customers along with live chat and in-app messaging. And not because we are selling a phone system but because we deeply believe in the value of “voice” interactions (and we are also well aware that we need to go far beyond the current phone model that we are offering, don’t worry).

1- You can solve problems faster and create a stronger relationship through a voice call

We’ve experienced it countless time with ourselves and our customers. Sometimes picking up the phone and directly speaking to a person is simply more efficient and faster than having a 10 messages long email thread to solve a problem. And there’s also no doubt that you’re building stronger relationships too. I have in mind a very recent example of that. Yesterday, I got a call from StackOverflow. In 5 minutes, they managed to raise my interest on their Career program – while an email (even written “in person”) would probably have ended up in my trash bin.

The real problem is not voice itself but when voice should be used and how the interaction should be started. If the “when” and  the “how” are not aligned then you have all the ingredients for an unpleasant call (it’s not the good time to call you, you’re not the good person etc…).

2- As “customer success” is getting more important for SaaS companies, voice will become key

Okay, you’ve probably heard of this new buzzword “customer success” (yep growth hacking is so 2013) but if you take the time to read this post from Tomasz Tunguz you’ll learn that this term covers a “decade long discipline” which banks and telco companies are expert at and that SaaS companies must use in order to control their churn.

As competition is heating up in the SaaS space and as churn is a key metric for every “subscription” based business, creating a real relationship with their customers from the start and, most importantly, following it during their lifetime is a crucial aspect.

You can expect to see more and more voice, chat and in app messages interactions between customers and customer success teams.

3- Voice products still suck, we’re still waiting for the “Olark” of voice

Let’s face it, very often if companies choose not to use phone for their support it’s because voice products suck: either you have a traditional phone line from a telco company and then you have 0 flexibility (no intelligent features) or you have a “software phone” (a SaaS solution) and most of the time it fails to really integrate your conversation flow with your customers.

But there’s hope. Live chat solutions were not that good a couple of years ago, because they didn’t provide a user experience tailored for online interactions. Since then startups like Olark rose and are now offering kick ass products which are really useful in a business context and fit better the customer – business conversation flow (timing, design, features etc…). This is what is happening in the voice industry too.

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