The Death of Tickets vol. 3: Get Personal, or Die Trying
In Volume 1 & 2 we covered how tickets create a disconnect between businesses and their customers and how channels can do the same, often times making it impossible to properly prioritize customers and agents. So, now that you know how you should structure your customer support, it’s time to learn the nuances of how to deliver personalized customer service to create long lasting relationships with your precious customers with our last webinar in the series.
Julie: Hello everyone and thank you so much for attending this third and final installment of The Death of Tickets trilogy, which is our VP of product, Christian Colding’s thunderous advocacy for more personal customer engagement. My name is Julie and I organize webinars here at Dixa. You can read more about our platform on dixa.com if you're interested. Before we start, I just want to let you know that, if you look to your right, you'll see a questions tab and you're more than welcome to write questions throughout the webinar. Then at the end, I'll read them out loud for Christian to address and hopefully we can all benefit from his insights. Also, after the webinar, I'll be sending a recording that you can re-watch yourself or pass along to a colleague or whatever you like. If you have any input for future webinars, you are more than welcome to reply to that email. We always love hearing from customer engagement fanatics so please do if you have any feedback or comments.Um, that's about all for me for now, but Christian – it’s all yours.
Christian: Hi everyone. And thank you for joining volume three.When I started this, I didn't know it would be three volumes, but you know, I have a lot to say on the death of tickets. Uh, it's something that's dear to my heart because I work at Dixa where we truly do believe that tickets are dying. But it's also because I've seen it out there. I've seen that tickets are not the best way to work. I'm also VP of product here at Dixa and I come previously from Zendesk, which is quite a ticketing system. So I've seen the good and the bad of ticketing systems and I try to give you a little bit of insight into what's happening to tickets and why they are dying in volume one and volume two, which are available on dixa.com/webinars if you're interested.
You don't need to see them to watch this one, so don't disappear. But, uh, once you've watched this and hopefully found that it’s interesting, you should go back and watch volume one and volume2 since they are different aspects and perspectives on the same topic.
Volume 1 Recap
I'm just going to do a little bit of a recap on volume one. I talked about the relationship between the customer and the business and the relationship between human beings as friends. So what we've seen and one of the trends that we're seeing at the moment is that people are moving away from speaking on one channel and using multiple channels when they're talking to people. So my friend, and I will communicate on phone chat and email and will switch between them as we see fit depending on what we're trying to do. So this is how we're seeing these conversations evolve. You probably know them yourself from messenger or other types of applications. And we're seeing the same thing happening when it comes to customer service. Now on a personal relationship and on a human aspect of things, we just continue the conversation where it makes most sense. And we do that continuously. Uh, so no matter what the subject is about, we try to find the channel that's most appropriate. Sometimes it's easier to take a phone call, sometimes it's easier to chat about it and sometimes you mix the two. And just to get back to the previous point, this is something we do between friends and we're seeing the exact same thing happened between customers and businesses. So that's obviously why we're here when it comes to customer service.
In the previous volume , I also talked about how these customer interactions are moving away from being transactional and to continuous. Ex: I have one problem that I'm going to go solve vs. moving into having a continuous relationship with a business that evolves over time. This is mainly due to new business models, really getting some traction. So before you might have been able to buy a single DVD, down at the DVD store or a VHS back in the day, now you're going on Netflix and you're paying every month for a subscription. So we're seeing that you're moving away from something that's very transactional to something that's more of a relationship between business and customers. Now, building a relationship with these customers requires a level of personalization and that's what I'm going to talk a little bit about today and how tickets are not really the best thing to use here.
Building relationships through personalization
Now personalization as I see it is about understanding who you're talking to. I try to compare it very much to having a friendship with your own friends. You also need to understand them.Good personal relationship with anyone is that you understand who they are, where they come from, or the problems that they're having. The better we understand each other, the more personal it feels. And then I can just say that there's no doubt that what we're seeing out there right now is an increased focus on personalization and an increased focus from businesses and from consumers that they want to have this personal conversation together.
Ticket systems were meant to handle emails
So the problems that I’m seeing right now is that ticket systems and therefore tickets are essentially built to handle emails. This is how they were built originally and there were many systems built about 10 years ago - that's when they started to build ticketing systems.So most of these were built to handle emails and that's fine. But email is, andI'm sure a lot of you know this, but email is more than 36 years old depending a little bit on how you measure it. But I've gone with this one. Some state it’s even 45 years old, so from 1982. It's an old technology right there. And we move very fast in this digital technical world.
So just to give you a little bit of an idea of how long ago that actually is: 1982 was actually before the first dotcom domain. So email was invented before we could even access a dotcom domain, which was 1985. It was before the first commercial email product was released, which was Microsoft outlook for Mac, which came in 1988. So that's also a very long time ago and that's actually the first commercial email product. So, uh, first spam early 1990’s and the first image was sent in 1992. So it just says something about how much has happened since email was invented and granted things have happened to email, but basically the underlying technology of email is still the same. The protocols, the way to interact with it, the ways that we do are still the same.I'm trying to hack it a little bit to make it better, but it's becoming increasingly difficult.
So, what’s wrong with email?
So one of the problems with email is it’s very old, but there are some problems with email and that's what I'm going to talk a little bit about today. Emails are reactive, context less and non-conversational. I'll dive into each of these just a second, but it means that you can't really personalize the conversation that you're having with a consumer and the business using email, which is what everyone's asking for at the moment.
Emails are reactive
So let me try and dive into each of these three problems with email. So if look at the reactive side first, emails are inherently reactive. By reactive, I mean that the agent here is [the one with the little clever hat on obviously] is usually just sitting around, waiting for something to happen. Arguably there's a lot that happens in customer service centers. But what essentially happens is they are waiting for someone to contact them to write an email. In this case, the customer is writing up an email at some point and they're going to send off that email to that person.And then we kind of have the opposite situation.
Now the customer is left waiting, they're waiting for a reply, they're waiting to get something back and they have no idea how long it's going to take. You can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour to days. I know if I have to contact the tax authorities here inDenmark, it takes 10 days, so, you know, uh, it can be very different in terms of time that it takes, but the agent is now writing a reply and then they're passing that back again. And then we have this problem that everyone's waiting.There’s always wait time. There's wait times for the agent. There's wait time for the customer and everyone’s waiting. If we start to multiply that, we started to see, okay, there's a lot of people waiting here. Uh, which means that email is really very reactive in how it's built and how it was initially designed. Um, and all this wait time. It doesn't really help you to truly understand the customer if you're, if you're not connected with a person, if you're not sitting next to them, if you're not having a conversation, it's very difficult to understand where they're trying to do.
You know this because if you've received an email and it's 24 hours ago that you received it, and this is the time where we need to reply to it. A lot could have happened since, uh, and the questions you are going to ask have to be a lot more detailed and requires a longer time to get through them. It takes a lot longer to just get the initial understanding of potential problem, who you are as a person etc. So all this wait time is really not helping you to understand anything and that's the core of personalizing your conversation with customers.
Being reactive means waiting for problems
And there's another problem and that is that when customers reach out, it’s because they have a problem. Again, being very reactive here. So I, as a customer, reach out to customer service when there is something that is not working usually. Um, so I send an email and this turns into a problem, shown here with the exclamation mark in the middle and that gets turned into a ticket. So what we see is that when customers reach out, it's a problem they're actually reaching out about. Now that means that each of the individual tickets that we receive is essentially a problem because we are sitting around waiting for customers to contact us. And why would they contact us if there was no problems? So what if there is no problem? This is one of the things that I really, truly believe that we are moving further towards. And that’s being personal and having a relationship with another person, and it's about being proactive as well. I think you all know this from your own friends.
More proactive, more problems... in ticketing systems
If you don't hear from them for a very long time and they expect that you are the one reaching out all the time, at some point you might get a little tired of that. So if you want to create a personal relationship between two people or between a business and a customer, then you need to reach out. We need to be proactive. You need to say, hey, how are you doing? Is there anything I can help with? And now the problem with doing that is that when you're being more proactive in a ticketing system, you're actually creating more tickets, which in itself might not be a problem, but all of the tickets are usually determined as problems. That's why we're receiving them the first place. So when we look at our metrics we say, “Okay, everything's extra problems,” and suddenly it becomes a problem to be proactive.
It becomes a problem if you're to reach out to your customers just to hear how they are doing, if they are doing well, etc., etc., then we're actually starting to create more problems, more issues in our ticketing systems, which is not necessarily the case. It's not like we have more issues when we measure our business. It's not like there are more problems that we need to solve, or that the businesses isn’t doing as well.And actually we're probably doing better because we have the ability to reach out to people. And we see this because it all feeds into the metrics, right?So, you know, once everything becomes a problem, we'll say, okay, actually don't reach out to people because that's just going to look like we have more problems. It will look like there are more problems with our product, more problems with our processes, more problems with something around our business, which isn't necessarily the case and we’re really just trying to be proactive.
Using different tools for outreach is not the answer!
Now there is a way to usually solve this, which is what we're seeing right now and I wanted to mention this becauseI don't think it’s a solution to the problem. However, we do see that some businesses are dividing up the outreach into another product, so they use another tool for doing the outreach to be proactive and then they have a customer service tool that they use for being reactive and for problem solving – solving tickets basically.
Now that creates a problem because that creates the silos, it means that you're having one tool where you're doing the deep personal outreach, trying to get to talk to people, and then you kind of need to hand over that to a customer service tool whenever there is a problem or if there is actually something that customer service needs to work on. And you don't get a full understanding of the customer on the other end, you don't get that 360 degree view that we usually try to talk about.
So a very core feature that we're seeing going forward is that you start blending outbound and inbound so that you are being proactive and reactive at the same time and they're both part of having a relationship with your customer. So ticketing is a bit of a problem because it is essentially reactive and being reactive is not good enough.
Emails are contextless
There's another problem with tickets and that is that it's context-less. It's lacking context. This is how an email starts. And I’m sure you’ve all tried this. you enter the email address at the top and then you have a blank canvas which you can go crazy. And there's quite a few problems with this type of interaction.
First and foremost, there's no sort of guidance here, I'm getting no sort of information about the business thatI'm about to contact. It is just empty, blank slate. I have no idea what's going to happen on the other end. I have no idea what to give to the business.And we see this also in how we build other types of products. We can actually ask follow up questions when people contact us. It's very difficult for us todo that automatically on email, meaning we can't ask people why is it that you're actually here; please provide us with your order number. You can put it inhere. Um, we don't do any of this so we can’t route people correctly so they understand who they are so we can’t prioritize them correctly. Which is something that I also talk a lot about in Volume 2 in Death of tickets. Now there's also the problem that, you know, you sent the email and then what?What's going to happen now? There's no sort of expectation management either.
Another problem is unstructured data.So before I was kind of getting into how can we ask certain things, how can we get the order number for example. The problem is that this is how you would start anew conversation. So you start writing your text and inside all this text we need to decipher (either a human being or something else a little bit more high tech) it and needs to figure out what's happening. So in this case there is the accounting department, which is the in yellow. There's a topic, which is the refund and there's an order number and that's something that we need to kind of decipher from that text, which is not very good when you're trying to do something to it. When you're trying to route people based on this data, it's very difficult to create great experiences that looks at the order number and says okay, this is an order number, we need to send it to this person. You can't really build that because it's unstructured data and emails are unstructured.
Painful expectation setting
It's also painful expectation setting as just showed you before you've sent the email. Now what's going to happen? We need to kind of tell people what's going to happen. We do that with auto replies. I think they work and that they do the job, but they do painfully. They do tell me that the email has been received first and foremost, because you're never quite sure if it has. So you need to get an auto reply back to tell you that and it also helps you potentially to set some expectations. How long of a time will it take before I get a reply? Why didn't I get this information before even contacting the business? This email just doesn't really help me in setting my expectations before contacting the business. And that's just the nature of being back to reactive is that you’re just sitting there waiting until they receive it and then send something back. So that's both a reactive problem, but it's also a problem of context.
Disconnected for agents
You don't understand what's happening and it's also for agents. Uh, one thing is that it's disconnected and it's context-less for the end user, for the customer, but also disconnected for the agent. So when you receive these emails, how does it fit into all these different cogs and wheels of your customer? What have they been doing just before sending the email? What are they doing after sending the email? You can hack it a little bit and do assumptions that, oh, they probably sent it at this time so therefore it's probably related to what they did here, but we actually don't know because it's disconnected. You do one thing on a website, a shopping for example, and then you go and you send an email did you do from a completely separate product. So those two things are just not connected, which is the problem with email - those two things are not necessarily as interlinked and connected together.
Email is Non conversational
Lastly, it's also non conversational.I think I’ve talked at length about conversations, but it really is so core to what we're seeing and how we're seeing people wanting to communicate with both friends and businesses going forward. Humans communicate through conversation.I don't think this is an old thing. I'm not saying anything crazy here. I think everyone's known that this is how we've been communicating since the dawn of time. But what happened we started going online and when we started building websites, those conversations kind of disappear. But, that kind of came back a little bit with Facebook and other things. So they've (conversations) kind of made a comeback and we're seeing it even more now. We're seeing it comeback in two different forms I would say.
One thing is actual conversations.These are the Facebook messengers, Whatsapps and messages out there and whatever else you have, these are actual conversations. There is one person whois talking to another person or multiple people if it's a group thing. So that's actual conversations that we're seeing as emerging. It has been therefor quite a while, but we're seeing it more heavily, uh, especially with the adoption of, for example, facebook messenger as a new type of channel that you're also using to communicate with businesses. We're also seeing it as more of a pattern. We see this as conversational patterns.
So I've actually pulled up two examples here that I've used myself as well. I'm the first one is Quartz news.Now Quartz is a news app. It's one I use very, very regularly. I love the application; it’s a beautiful product. If you look a little bit at the screen, you might be able to see that it's actually a conversation. It looks like a conversation. It looks like I'm communicating with the news app. I'm not really. All I'm doing is they're presenting me with a little bit of news. In this case it's Netflix is suddenly available in almost every country in the world. And then I can click it or I can tab one of the options and it will show you more. So it's, it's just a website. I mean, it would be no different from being able to click read more on the website, but it's built as a conversation and it looks likeI'm having a conversation with Quartz. That's one very interesting pattern we're seeing.
We're seeing the same from Typeform. Typeform is a survey tool, so they will send out a survey where you need to fill out different fields and then submitted the end. What they've done is they’ve built the form as a conversation. Very interesting pattern that they’ve built here and it’s that actually doing the exact same thing as before. They're still asking you what is your email, asking different questions, etc., etc. But instead of just displaying it on the website, as your typing it in, they actually displaying it as a conversation as if you're having a conversation. So we're seeing these conversational patterns when we're seeing conversations.It's been so core to what we're doing going forward.
Now with emails, that's a little bit of a problem because emails are inherently separate. They are separate. But we really want these conversational emails because we're seeing conversations everywhere. This is not new. This has been happening for the past 10, 15, 20years that we've been trying to make email more conversational and still haven't really succeeded.
This is the kind of thing that we want.This is sort of email exchange:
“Hi, I'm trying to use the account department. I want to refund.”
Then someone replies back, “Have you not received it? Which account did you check?”
Then you reply back again and again and we're having a conversation. Preferably not a reactive conversation, preferably a conversation that fits a little bit more fluent, but it is a conversation.Now. This looks fine. This is totally fine. There is one reply from the customers and then there's one from the business and then there's another reply from the customer, but that's not how an email looks.
Emails look messy
I think you've all seen this day.This is super simple. By the way I've shown you. I'm showing you a really simple monster here. Um, but as you can see it, it's not really easy to figure out which parts of this is new and not new. And uh, we've sometimes seen emails where you have like three threads going on at the same time. What if you reply to part of the message and who do you include when you start including multiple people? What happens? So you're creating these monsters. These emails are horrible, but we're doing it because we want conversations.
Email is missing key characteristics of a conversation
The problem with email is that it really is, (besides this problem) missing some key characteristics of a conversation.One thing is, and I'm trying to tie them back into something that we do when having completely normal conversations face to face with people, for the first one it’s the online indicator.
The online indicator is the digital version of “I am here.” If I'm having a conversation with someone, I can see that the person is there. So that is the online indicator. That's a way for us to do the same in a digital world.
There's a “read” indicator. I've ready our message. You've seen these on Facebook messenger, for example. That is an acknowledgement of what you've said. I hear you. I heard what you said.Acknowledging that could be with a nod or a smile or something else. That's also a way for us to indicate that I've heard what you said. I haven't just seen it, but I've heard it.
And also “typing” indicators. So one that says someone is currently working on our response. This is when you're talking and having a conversation with a person, this could be “uuh, ummm,” you look like you're thinking; you look like you're going to say something; maybe you embrace your hand. This is a typing indicator. This is a kind of digital version of that. So email is missing all these key characteristics of a conversation. So there's so many problems with email that makes it so hard to have these conversations, which again, makes it super hard to prioritize, to personalize and to understand the customer.
Teams are switching from email
This is also why were seeing teams moving away from email as a way of communicating. We often see it in companies moving first because it's more controlled environment rather than with, with customers, but it is happening. What we're seeing is that then instead of sending an email to your team or to your office, you're communicating on, for example, Slack, Microsoft teams, or one of the other applications that do the same. And I can say here at Dixa, we rarely use email.
It’s very rare that I actually receive an email from anyone because everything is on Slack. It's a way for us to include people when we need to. It's a way for us to mention people, you know, there are so many better ways of communicating through Slack than there is one mail. So we're seeing this trend happening even when it comes to team and when they're talking to each other. And I think we're going to see the exact same thing happening, we're already seeing it, we're going to see even more from of it from customers going forward.
So the problem with email is it’s very reactive: you're sitting around waiting for something to come in. It is context-less: you don't know when it's happening, the context of things and you're not providing very much context to your agents or customers. And it’s not very conversational. It’s still missing all of those key features of really having a great conversation with your customers, which means that you can’t personalize.It's just not possible for you to personalize your conversation.
The answer? Live chat.
There's a solution to this problem and I think everyone knows what that is and it’s chat! Now this, I'm looking at it from a textual perspective. There is also phone calls. Phone calls are also a way for us to have a personal conversation with each other, but it's barely a placement of email because email is a written form of communication. So that's why I haven't really included it here, but phone calls are just as much a way of having a conversation. Chat is also a way to have the conversation. It's also away to talk to another person or to talk to a business, which is also what I described in volume one. And what we're seeing with chat is that they are highly conversational. They built as conversations. You can easily see that they are and even some of the things, again, going back to the conversational patterns that we're seeing is that even for the things that are not necessarily the conversation between two people, we're still seeing that it's conversationalized.
So for example, asking for an email address, which is just a field normally - you can ask it as a question that people fill in and then it gets added as a new message. But it looks like it’s part of the conversation and it’s proactive. You have the ability to reach out if you need to and get hold of them also within context. And then were back to the contextual part. Chat is a lot more contextual, you know when it happens, where it happens and you can also better target when you want to be proactive.
It all starts with you!
So those two things are very much tied together. So I think email is actually one of the big problems, one of the big blockers for really personalizing your customer experience and understanding your customers. It all starts with you guys and I mean to an extent me because we are all responsible for driving customers away from email. It’s easy to blame others and say, “oh, it’s just people want to communicate on email.” And that’s fair, but there are ways for us to help people move away from email because we can give them the experience that they're looking for.
For example, this is a mock up of a contact page on a website. It's a little bit simplified, but the problem is you go to the contact page and there you have an email address. Why? Why are you showing me an email address?
Why is that my first point of contact and the way that I need to talk to the business? Why is that through an email address, which has all those problems? Actually, I have to say for myself, I've seen it multiple times and I just give up if I see an email address. I don't want an email address. I don't want to start another application just to send you an email. No context, no personalization, nothing. What you need to do and where we need to move is we need to stop putting email addresses on our websites as much as possible and instead try to get people to use the chat. And this could even be if you're starting a chat and will receive a reply on email later, that's still better that you start on chat. It's still allows people to get context and still allows you to personalize. It looks like a conversation and it fits those things that we're trying to do.
Kill those tickets
So we need to kill these tickets guys. I'm saying they're dead, but maybe they're still just dying and you need to get involved as well because this is not how we do customer service today asI see it. We need to kill these tickets and the best way to do that is by moving people away from email and towards a more conversational, proactive, real time way of talking to your customers. So I've said it before and I'm saying it again: Tickets are dead.
Conversations are very much alive and they have been since the dawn of time. So let's not forget those. Let's take the concepts that we see out there. Let's, let's try and build something. Let's try and build a customer service that is based on what we do already with our friends that we do with everyone. This is not new stuff. Conversations are much alive and have been forever.
And that was my rant on “The Death ofTickets,” there are three. You can check them all out on www.dixa.com/webinars if you're interested. I think you should, especially if you watch this one, I think it would make a lot of sense for you to watch number one and number two as well, where I talk about how customers and businesses are interacting and also how you can better prioritize and how tickets are creating problems for you todo that. I just wanted to mention that if you do have any questions, you're very welcome to reach out. I know some of you have from the previous webinars. That's great. I'm always available to discuss how this works and whether it doesn't work. Maybe you've seen it doesn't work in your business and I would love to discuss that.
So send me an email email@example.com for now. Uh-huh, that's the best way for you to contact me. And then maybe at some point I'll have a way for you to chat with me. Thank you.
Julie: Thank you so much. So I'll jump straight into the questions because I can see that we are a bit behind schedule. But the first question is: “Does this mean you should get rid of email altogether?”
Christian: I mean, obviously it's very difficult to get rid of emails.I don't think we're at a stage where you can completely do that, but what I'm trying to say is try and move the needle. Try and get further, you know let’s not start with having people submit or displaying your email addresses everywhere.Let's try and remove them as many places as we can.
Yeah sure, there's still going to be places where you can't remove them like a presentation like this where you might not have other options, but let's try and see if there are better ways that we can build an experience for our customers so they don't have to send an email. I think that's the point. It's not that email is dying tomorrow. There will still be a level of communication afterwards, if you contact a business.It is a way for us to have a conversation without being there. But I do think that what we're seeing is that we're seeing other products coming in and taking over that part as well. Slack is the good example of that, right? Yes. We still have email Dixa, but we have very few emails. Most of it is on slack for us and we’re seeing the same with Facebook messenger.
When we see that people are starting to interact on Facebook messenger and similar services with businesses, which means that when I receive a reply I just receive it in my messenger. I don't need an email. So I think that what we're seeing is that messenger is just going to grow and grow and grow. You can build more and more workflows and tools into these things at some point. I do think that email is dying off. Email probably won't die completely. It probably will always be there a little bit, but if we can lower it, I think we can definitely create a better experience for our customers.
Julie: That makes a sense. The next question is, “Isn't it overkill to say that people need more guidance to write emails?”
Christian: No. It's not overkill to say that people need guidance.I think we've seen that pretty much everywhere that the guidance is something that people need in what they do. I think what I've seen is that when I send an email, I tend to write a very long email with all the information that I assume you might need and then I get super annoyed when all I get back is an email that says, “what's your order number?” The one thing I didn't include in the email, and I actually wrote a long one, you know, why did I spend all my time writing up a bunch of information that they might already have? I wrote my email address, which they already have. I wrote up a bunch of things and then suddenly they need the order number. How do I as a customer know what you as a business need when I have a problem. I have no idea and when I start from a blank canvas, you're not really inviting me into anything. If you had started a chat instead, then the first question would probably have been, “what's your order number?,” and it could be automated. So, that's what I'm saying, it gets frustrating to use these emails and to be the one that needs to proactively start everything and not being guided through what you need to do. We don't do this on chat, we don't do this on phone. When you're calling up you’re still being guided, you still have IVR, you still have other ways of getting in contact and figuring out what is this about? “Enter your order number while you wait so that we have it.” Great. That's what we're missing, that’s really what we need to see more of.
Julie: Yeah, and it sounds like that would also be a better experience for agents as well. And then on top of what you've already spoken about all these other things you know, that's just another way for us to also make the agent's job easier.
Christian: Yeah, definitely. No doubt.
Julie: All right. There are no more questions, but if you think of something afterwards, obviously you're more than welcome to write to Christian.I’ll be sending out an email either today or tomorrow of this, but other than that, I’d just really like to thank all of you guys for attending. I see a few familiar faces, which is really nice and I mean, it means that we must be doing something right and it’s really awesome. Have a lovely day!
Christian is the VP of Product at Dixa and believes in treating customers as friends, not transactions. He approaches Dixa's product development with this mindset every single day.