Many companies still remain resistant to rolling out 24/7 customer service. There are many reasons for this. Some companies believe it will cost them too much money to implement and maintain. Some companies believe it won’t add any real value. Whatever the reason, not offering 24/7 customer support is becoming increasingly less viable in the digital age. With the current explosion in automation and AI, it’s also much cheaper and more accessible than ever to implement these technologies that support your customer service operation.
Customer attitudes and expectations are shifting. In the digital age, customers want to be able to contact companies on their terms, and they gravitate to the companies that allow this style of communication. They want to be able to contact companies according to their communication preferences. This may mean the method of communication, for example, email, live chat, SMS, social media, or a phone call. However, it also means the time that they contact the company. Our modern lives are stressful and busy enough without customers having to worry about slotting in time to contact your company during your operation hours.
If a customer is trying to get in touch with customer service, it’s likely because they are experiencing an issue with your product or service. This means there’s already a level of stress involved in the relationship before they even establish contact. A well-functioning customer service operation should strive to lessen this stress by meeting customer expectations and solving problems, not adding more problems. Efficiently solving problems means understanding your customers and being available to help them whenever they need help. By delaying this help, you risk further frustrating your customers and leaving them with a poor customer experience. That’s why today we want to look at all the reasons you should take the next step for your business and implement 24/7 customer service. Let’s get started.
9 Reasons You Should Provide 24/7 Customer Service
1. Customers Have High Expectations
According to a 2017 report by tech powerhouse Microsoft, 54% of all consumers said they had higher customer service expectations than they did one year previously. Now in 2020, we can only expect that customer expectations are even higher. This means that customers will be more critical of brands that don’t meet their expectations and move on to a different brand that can offer them more. Adding to this, providing 24/7 customer support is no longer considered a stand out feature of a company, it’s now something that customers have come to expect. If you don’t deliver on something that many consumers now expect to have as part of their customer-business interaction, then you will fall short of their expectations and impact their customer experience.
2. Customers Expect You to Be Accessible
Over the last few decades, our societies have shifted to allow for a more flexible way of working. It used to be that most people who worked in an office would be required to work 9 am to 5 pm, and report to the office building every day. This is no longer the world we live in. Today, it’s much more common for people to hold flexible working schedules that better support work-life-balance. Working from home, coffee shops, or anywhere else is now also a common feature of modern business. With this new freedom comes a new standard.
In a world that has never been more flexible when it comes to communications and where you can talk to someone on the other side of the world instantly and for free, limited customer service hours no longer make sense. Consumers know you can be more accessible, and if you don’t make yourself more accessible, they will hold it against you. Put simply, consumers want companies to be available whenever the consumer is ready to talk to them.
3. Customer Experience Should Be Your Priority
Customer experience is garnering a lot of attention right now, and with good reason. Businesses all over the globe are now shifting their focus from more traditional forms of competition such as price competitiveness and marketing, and instead focusing on improving their customer experience. One study found that by 2020, customer experience will be more important than price to consumers. Since we’re only one week into 2020, it’s too early to say whether this prediction has been met. However, we can say that customer experience has been a priority for several years now. A joint report by Econsultancy and Adobe found that most businesses picked “customer experience” as the most exciting business opportunity. Other contenders for the most exciting business opportunity were content marketing, data-driven marketing, video marketing, and social marketing. Customer experience beat them all.
When it comes to customer experience, there isn’t a simple check-list of things you should offer a customer. You’re trying to invoke a feeling in your customers, a feeling that makes them loyal to your brand and happy to be your customer. To do this successfully, you need to take a holistic approach to customer experience. What do your customers want? How do they like to be communicated with? Are you available to answer their questions promptly? Having 24/7 customer service is one way to show customers that you do want to answer all of these questions and that you’re ready to help them if they experience any issues with your product or service.
4. You Need to Be Available Now
According to one study, 71% of consumers aged 16 to 24 believe that a quick response from a customer service team can drastically improve their customer experience. According to another study, 90% of consumers rate an “immediate” response as important when they have a question. “Immediate” meant 10 minutes or less to 60% of the respondents. Customers want to be able to get in touch quickly and resolve their problems. By making customers wait until the next day’s opening hours, you run the risk of increasing their stress levels and making them more frustrated with your company.
5. It Improves Your Trustworthiness
Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of who they choose to support with their money. We’ve seen an increase in consumers who are interested in the social, environmental and political stance of the companies they buy from. In fact, 64% of global consumers are belief-driven buyers who are willing to boycott a brand because of their stance on an issue. We saw this happen in late 2019 when gaming giant Blizzard punished one of their eSports players for sharing his stance on the Hong Kong crisis. Blizzard was enforcing their policy that Blizzard platforms can’t be used to spread political messages, but despite this, many of their western fanbase was outraged. Many former fans of the Blizzard games took to social media to criticize the company and announced that they would no longer buy Blizzard products. Some people even went to protest at Blizzard headquarters. Many consumers will not hesitate to move to another company if your company doesn’t match their expectations.
However, trustworthiness and integrity come in many forms. You don’t necessarily have to shout your beliefs from the rooftops in the hopes of capturing the hearts and minds of your target audience. You can also show your trustworthiness in smaller ways, like showing you’re always available to talk. Customers are more likely to view your business or product with suspicion if they fear that contacting you won’t be easy. They may choose to go with a different company who offers 24/7 customer support and a more varied set of communication channels over a company who has limited customer support.
6. It Demonstrates High Responsiveness
Customers care about an organization’s responsiveness level. They want to feel confident that if they encounter an issue in the buying journey or their customer journey that they can count on you to respond to them. If you have live chat available on your website, you are signaling to your customers that you are a responsive company. You are there, you’re available, and you’re ready to answer their questions. It should never be difficult for a customer to find where you contact you. This is why you see so many websites that have a live chat box that will automatically pop up when you land on the website. These companies are trying to demonstrate a high responsiveness rate to their prospective customers.
7. If You Have a Global Customer Base, You Need to Be Global
It’s now easier than ever to sell to a global market. Of course, not every business wants to sell to a global market, but plenty of companies do. If you’re one of these companies, then you need to make sure that your customers in other regions feel as valued as your local customers. This means providing customer support during the peak times of different regions so that it’s not just your local customer who get to experience the best of your customer service operation.
8. You Can Solve Problems Before They Grow
Responding to issues promptly means you minimize the impact they have. As we already discussed, you increase the customer’s stress level by making them wait for a response. Some of these customers may choose to go on social media and publicly complain about your company. If this happens outside of your business operating hours, and you have no dedicated staff available for support outside of operating hours, a post can potentially grow and be seen by a lot of people by the time you get around to responding to the problem the next day.
9. It’s Easier Now Than Ever
With the technology available in the modern digital landscape, it has never been easier to implement a 24/7 customer service operation. You can utilize customer service outsourcing services based in different time zones, you can commit to providing extended support on social media, or add chatbots to your website. 24/7 customer service doesn’t have to mean that you have agents on the phones 24/7, but that there’s always a way for your customers to get in touch with you.
Don’t Delay Any Longer
Competition is fierce out there, and that means you have to continually find ways to set yourself apart from the competition. The modern world functions 24/7 and we’ve seen more and more businesses opt for a 24/7 customer service model. Not only is this model fit for a modern world, but it also helps to satisfy the current top priority of businesses, improving customer experience. If you implement this strategy now, you’ll be setting yourself apart from your competitors who are still operating their customer service within a limited time window.
As time goes on, we expect that this trend will continue and even more businesses will opt for a 24/7 customer service model. If you choose to delay this process, you may see yourself being left behind as customers choose the companies that better meet their expectations.