A Direct (On)Line To Your Customers: Chat For Customer Service
Change is an unstoppable force. The more we try to stick to outdated practices of the past, the more it hinders our progress. Mobile technologies and social media have opened up new avenues for interaction and customer engagement. This shift in customer preference means that businesses need to connect with their customers in the way most convenient for them without losing sight of personlisation.
Hence, traditional methods of customer service are being replaced by the ability to connect on social media that has enabled open-ended, two-way communications through which customers can provide feedback throughout the entire customer experience.
As such, the world will continue to be re-imagined through the lens of an always-on, always-connected consumer and businesses need to keep up. The question is then, how can businesses maintain a high and personalised level of interaction in this digital age?
Live engagement channels like chat, not only gives businesses a way to meaningfully connect with consumers, but also boost conversion rates and significantly impact ROI.
The success doesn’t lie in the channel alone. The chat agent plays an integral role in the success of any live chat implementation. They are essentially the face of your brand, and are the differentiation between your engagement strategy and that of a content heavy website or FAQ. Well -trained and knowledgeable chat agents are they key to making your digital engaement program successful and can vastly improve customer satisfaction and loyalty while also lifting sales.
1. Create a dedicated team of chat agents
While the volume of call and chat requests can fluctuate, it’s generally better to have a group of chat agents focused solely on the chat channel, rather than move them between the chat requests and traditional phone hotlines. Not only will you gain more productivity from your staff, but your consumers will also notice the difference.
2. Create a chat mindset
Chat and telephone agents do similar jobs. They respond to inquiries and requests for help from customers. They resolve problems and issues quickly and as effectively as possible. However, that is where these two roles diverge.
Where a phone agent is responsive, chat agents are pro-active.
Live engagement allows a business to use analytics and tracking to identify points in a customers’ experience where he or she may be frustrated, and may benefit from assistance through a live chat agent. They know where a customer is on the site, and what they have been looking at, allowing the agent to bypass the customary ‘how may I help you today?’ script. It is this instant help – the chat mindset – that is the key to success.
3. Learn from the best agents
Analysing chat conversations allows brands to learn how to improve chat agent performance and also reveal ways to optimise the website. The conversations let business see exactly what is and isn’t working, and help focus their designated chat team on the most effective strategies.
4. Effective training introducing chat
All agents, regardless of the channel, should possess comprehensive knowledge of the product and processes in order to be as effective as possible. It is also important for agents to be properly trained on the new live chat medium. Techniques, especially those employed to close sales, differ from the voice to text-based chat, and website operators who are introducing the new live engagement tool should train existing agents accordingly.
5. Promote the channel
As chat is increasingly seen as a more effective way to connect with customers over voice, companies should be promoting it as such. Those businesses that have already integrated live engagement chats into their websites find that employees prefer it over the call centre. Beyond the ability to chat with multiple customers simultaneously, the text medium allows deeper collaborations between agents.
It may seem that ultimately, phone and chat agents are doing very similar jobs, and both work to actively engage customers, it’s important to coach those moving into the text-based chat medium to ensure their success.
At the end of the day, it is vital that organisations analyse the business benefits of humanisation of the digital channel and drive their customer engagement strategies accordingly. Those that don’t will find themselves at a disadvantage and perhaps soon left behind. It’s time for businesses to come to grips with the new era of customer engagement.
Why Alibaba Cloud is doubling down in Southeast Asia
Alibaba has announced expansion of its cloud business within Southeast Asia, with the introduction of a digital upskilling programme for locals alongside acceleration of its data centre openings.
This doubling down of its cloud business in Southeast Asia comes as the company faces stiff competition at home in China from rivals including Pinduoduo Inc and Tencent and seeks to up its game in a region considered to be the fastest-growing in cloud adoption to compete with leading global cloud providers AWS, Google and Microsoft.
Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and second biggest revenue driver after its core e-commerce business, finally turned profitable for the first time in the December 2020 following 11 years of operation, thanks largely to the pandemic which has spurred businesses and consumers to get online.
Southeast Asia growing demand for cloud
In 2020, there was a noticeable increase in interest towards cloud in SE Asia, with the population embracing digital transformation during the pandemic and SMEs across the region showing increased demand for cloud computing.
Such demand has led to the expectation that Southeast Asia is now the fastest-growing adopter of cloud computing with the cloud market expected to reach US$40.32bn in Southeast Asia by 2025 according to IDC.
And there are plenty of players vying for a slice of the cloud pie. While AWS, the cloud arm of Amazon, is the leading player in Southeast Asia (and across all of APAC apart from China), Microsoft and Google are the next two most dominant players in Southeast Asia with Alibaba coming in fourth.
“There is no doubt that during the past year we have seen the acceleration of digital transformation efforts across all industries,” explains Ahmed Mazhari, President, Microsoft Asia. “Asia now accounts for 60% of the world’s growth and is leading the global recovery with the digitalization of business models and economies. Cloud will continue to be a core foundation empowering the realization of Asia’s ambitions, enabling co-innovation across industries, government and community, to drive inclusive societal progress.”
Alibaba’s commitment to Southeast Asia
At its annual Alibaba Cloud Summit, the Chinese company announced Project AsiaForward, an initiative designed to upskill local developers, small-to-medium-sized companies and connect businesses with venture capital. Alibaba said it would set aside US$1bn over the next three years to develop digital skills in the region, with the aim of helping to develop 100,000 developers and to help grow 100,000 tech startups.
But that’s not all. The company, which recently opened its third data centre in Indonesia, serving customers with offerings across database, security, network, machine learning and data analytics services, also announced it would unveil its first data centre in the Philippines by the end of 2021.
Furthermore, that it would establish its first international innovation centre, located in Malaysia, offering a one-stop shop platform for Malaysian SMEs, startups and developers to innovate in emerging technologies.
“We are seeing a strong demand for cloud-native technologies in emerging verticals across the region, from e-commerce and logistics platforms to FinTech and online entertainment. As the leading cloud service provider and trusted partner in APAC, we are committed to bettering the region’s cloud ecosystem and enhancing its digital infrastructure,” says Jeff Zhang, President, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.
What other cloud providers are pledging in the region
This pledge by Alibaba to upskill both individuals and businesses follows Microsoft’s announcement in April that it was planning to upskill Malaysia’s population and would invest US$1bn over the next five years to build a new data centre centre in Malaysia.
This is the latest in a long line of pledges to the region by the US tech giant, which is fast accelerating the growth of its cloud datacenter footprint in Asia, expanding form seven 11 markets, and recently adding three new markets across Asia – Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan. Back in February, it announced plans to establish its first datacenter region in Indonesia and to skill an additional 3 million Indonesians to achieve its goal of empowering over 24 million Indonesians by the end of 2021.
And recent research by IDC shows that Microsoft’s most recent datacenter expansions in Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan alone are set to generate more than US$21bn in new revenues and will create 100,000 new jobs in the next four years.
Also last month, Tencent announced it has launched internet data centres in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Tokyo to add to its second availability zone opened in Korea last year and plans to add an internet data center in Indonesia, and Google has also been pushing into the enterprise space in Southeast Asia for several years now.
Expanding data centers allows cloud providers to boost their capacity in certain countries or regions.