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Rising Customer Expectations Drive Demand for Messenger-Based, Conversational Support Experiences

With irreversible changes to how the world does business over the past year, support leaders now say that customers will prefer conversational, messenger-based engagements with brands

A commissioned study released and conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Intercom has found that conversational experiences are fueling customer retention and business growth for major companies, particularly after a year of irreversible digital transformation. The study surveyed more than 500 global customer support leaders on the changes seen in delivering support and how they’re future-proofing their strategies.

With superior customer experiences more critical than ever, 69% of support leaders believe that strong customer relationships are built through personalized support experiences. What’s more, the way that businesses deliver customer support has changed. Messenger-based support has risen from the fifth most used support channel pre-pandemic to now second, overtaking both phone and in-person support.

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“Customers demand easy, effective service that values their time and provides them with personal experiences that are in context of their actions. They increasingly use self-service and digital channels to interact with companies as these channels meet their expectations,” wrote Kate Leggett, Vice President, Principal Analyst, Forrester, in a recent blog post. “If companies deliver experiences in line with customer expectations, customers will keep their business with them, buy more from them, and serve as company advocates.”1

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71% of support leaders say that conversational support will allow them to either stay competitive or become an industry leader, yet many businesses don’t have the technology they need to deliver this type of personalized support at scale. 54% of respondents say they don’t believe they can deliver conversational support at scale with their current technology stack, and 50% find their teams waste time jumping between tools and platforms to solve customer issues.

“There has been significant growth in how businesses and customers prefer messaging as a support channel. This makes conversational support, support delivered through messengers, an essential offering for every business,” said Des Traynor, Chief Strategy Officer and co-founder at Intercom. “Customers clearly expect conversational experiences now, so businesses must meet these rising expectations and offer great customer support that is fast, friendly and personal.”

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Additional findings from the study include:

  • The pandemic will have significant, long-term impacts on customer support. 71% of respondents believe the pandemic will have an enormous or large impact on how they address customer support in the long term. 55% say the pandemic increased customer preferences for interacting over digital channels and 58% believe customers will prefer conversational, messenger-based engagements with brands going forward.
  • Companies value their support teams more than ever, but they aren’t supported with the right technology. 73% of support leaders say customer support is now recognized as a more important function at their company, but only 43% said their support teams have the resources they need to meet demands for personalized customer experiences. Only 37% said they’re satisfied with their organization’s current digital channels/solutions.
  • Businesses are increasing investment in conversational support solutions. 50% of support leaders either already provide conversational support or will invest in providing it over the next year. Customer retention, increased business efficiency and enhanced customer satisfaction were identified by respondents as the main benefits of embracing conversational support.

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