When Steve Jobs was preparing to open his first Apple store, he sent every manager to participate in the Ritz-Carlton’s hospitality training program. He had good reason: no one does customer service like the Ritz-Carlton. To this day, every front-line employee completes 250 hours of service training per year and is allotted $2,000 each day to resolve issues with guests (CRM.org)
But what happens when your team is expected to provide five-star customer support in seconds, using the tools they already have? According to Salesforce, 83% of customers expect to interact with someone immediately when they contact a company, and 73% expect organizations to understand their unique needs and expectations.
To keep up, more companies are turning to a dizzying combination of channels, beyond your average call center or ticketing system. Live chat. Bots. Self-service. Knowledge bases. In-app messaging. Peer-to-peer communities.
But what if the secret sauce to a world-class customer service experience is far more simple — and has been sitting right in front of us this entire time? Literally… at the bottom of our screens.
With over 18 million daily users sending more than 1.5 billion messages each week, Slack has radically changed how people communicate at work (Business of Apps). Status updates, pinging teammates, dropping memes — for a lot of us, Slack messaging has replaced email entirely. It’s even become its own verb. Thanks to Slack Connect, individuals can also interact across multiple organizations, vendors, and partners.
For the seemingly endless use cases, however, most organizations still aren’t using Slack for client communications, or as a direct line to their customers. That means there’s a huge opportunity for forward-thinking teams to stand out and deliver a better customer experience than their competitors.
Here are 4 main reasons Slack messaging is the secret sauce to excellent customer support:
Slack messaging reduces friction for customers.
Customers expect hyper-personalized service and effective solutions delivered as quickly and seamlessly as possible. Skyrocketing demands are nothing new to customer support teams — but what happens when excellence becomes a baseline expectation, rather than a differentiator? That time is now upon us:
88% of customers believe the experience a company provides is just as important as its product or services (Salesforce).
83% of customers expect to solve complex problems by speaking to one person. (Salesforce).
55% of customers expect better customer service year over year (Microsoft).
Although it can be tough for support teams to deliver on these expectations, it’s often equally hard for customers to get the level of support they’re looking for. For many, resolving an issue involves some combination of:
Submitting multiple tickets and waiting hours for a response
Phoning in to a call center, then being put on hold or punted to another agent
Sending yet another follow up to a CSM or account manager
Screaming into a pillow
In fact, twice as many customers say it takes a lot of effort to get cases resolved than those who say it takes a little effort (Salesforce).
Part of the problem is that customer service experiences are typically driven by the organization's tech stack and workflows — not the customers’. There are nearly 70 customer service solutions available on the market, which means customers have to navigate wildly different environments whenever they contact a support team (G2). If you’ve ever pleaded with a bot to connect you to a real human, you know that sometimes the friction is just figuring out how to effectively interact with agents in the first place.
Even omnichannel support can still feel like the company’s home turf — customers come to agents, not the other way around. It’s sort of like the 90’s, when you had to drive to the nearest Blockbuster and pick out a movie, instead of immediately loading whatever you’re looking for from the comfort of your own Netflix account. Slack enables customer support teams to adopt a more “on-demand” approach.
Customers prefer using the same tools to communicate with support agents as they do in their personal lives. According to Zendesk, social messaging for customer service jumped 110% in 2021 over the previous year, while SMS/text saw a 75% increase. Slack is one of the quickest and easiest ways for support teams to meet customers where they’re at.
Slack messaging enables customer support teams to work more efficiently.
Slack’s widespread familiarity doesn’t just benefit customers but also support teams. With a growing number of customer support solutions, it’s more likely that new agents will be unfamiliar with your organization’s software of choice.
It also doesn’t help that some of the more popular platforms tend to come with a vast amount of features, some incredibly complex. New agents may require additional training to ramp and deliver high-quality service. Beyond stalling productivity, this can cause even more friction for customers — no one wants their ticket to fall through the cracks due to some glitchy trigger configuration.
With Slack, this is a non-issue. Agents can jump right in and immediately focus their attention on the actual solution. Organizations that use technology to revamp the customer experience can reduce cost to serve by 20-40% (McKinsey).
Using Slack for client communication or customer support also enables teams to mimic an omnichannel experience and easily switch between messaging, phone, and video support, all from one screen.
Slack can help improve customer retention.
It’s no secret that customer support has a serious impact on retention and churn:
Businesses can grow revenue between 4% and 8% above their market when prioritizing better customer service experiences (Bain & Company)
If the company provides excellent customer service, 78% of consumers will do business with them again after a mistake (HubSpot).
Nearly two-thirds of consumers will sever a relationship with a business due to poor customer service (Microsoft)
83% of customers agree that they feel more loyal to brands that respond and resolve their complaints (Khoros)
An NPS Promoter score has a customer lifetime value that's 600%-1,400% higher than a Detractor (Bain & Company)
64% of companies say customer service has a direct impact on business performance (Zendesk)
71% of leaders say support agents are critical to driving sales (Zendesk)
As the adage goes, people buy from people. The reason Slack feels more personal than traditional customer support channels is because clients and customers are already using it for one-on-one conversations at work. Although Slack Connect expands the platform’s capabilities beyond a single organization, it was initially designed as an internal communication tool, so support agents almost feel like an extension of the immediate team.
Agents aren’t just providing support, but building real relationships. Think about your own vendors. Who sounds more like an invaluable partner— someone you can immediately Slack like any other teammate, or a distant CSM you have to email every time there’s a problem? When push comes to shove, it’s a lot harder to ditch a support team that’s already ingrained in your workflow.
Slack will become the preferred communication channel for customer support.
Slack has radically changed how people communicate at work— and it’s only a matter of time before external interactions catch up. Adopting Slack as a customer support tool now will enable teams to get a jump start on the competition and establish themselves as a better, faster, easier alternative. This differentiation will be especially crucial during a downturn, as more companies are forced to cut budgets, get scrappy, and reassess contracts. Every interaction isn’t just a chance for agents to provide a world-class customer service, but hasten time to value.
P.S. If you're worried about customer communication getting lost in a noisy Slack channel, don't be! Worknet streamlines incoming customer messages with a unified team inbox — directly in Slack. Agents can ensure speedy response rates and practically eliminate missed messages with notifications, auto-prioritization, and integrations with ticketing solutions like Zendesk and Salesforce Service Cloud. You can also tap rich engagement data with visual dashboards, so you’ll always have a pulse on team performance and productivity.
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