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Transforming crypto customer service for mass consumer adoption

The recent Bitcoin bull market is spurring a renewed interest in digital currencies, in both the financial services industry and among everyday consumers. A MasterCard survey found that 40% of respondents planned on using crypto within the next year. Companies that operate online exchanges, manufacture hardware wallets and develop crypto-related mobile apps are all seeing an increase in users — and in customer service requests.

As we enter a new tier of cryptocurrency mass adoption, longstanding customer support and experience practices in the space require re-evaluation and improvement. Cryptocurrency companies no longer solely support uber-knowledgeable niche consumers, but an increasingly wider array of the populace.

"There is a desperate need for improvement everywhere, from response times and communication channels to empathy and communication skills," explains Anja Schuetz, a cryptocurrency educator and customer support consultant currently working with the Web3 Foundation.

Schuetz says that for cryptocurrency companies to serve customers in the future, they need to make their service teams top-notch by doing three main things: conduct an honest assessment of their current customer experience (CX), identify strategies to overcome key challenges and implement the right technologies.

The state of crypto customer service

Over the last decade or so, customer service in the cryptocurrency industry catered to a relatively small group of tech-savvy users who didn't necessarily expect top-tier support. Moreover, many crypto companies and start-ups focused solely on the technology, with customer experience being more of an afterthought.

"Blockchain projects are built by developers with amazing tech expertise, but can lack a similar level of interpersonal and social skills," observes Schuetz. "Developers and founders often perform support functions themselves on the side, impacting response times and communication style. Support tickets can be full of tech jargon without even a simple 'hi' or 'goodbye.'"

Moreover, crypto support teams or individuals sometimes refer people to channels or platforms potentially unknown to their customers. Sending new or inexperienced users to a GitHub repository or Discord channel may cause difficulty and confusion. If the customer hasn't yet invested much or any money in a crypto currency, they might abandon the issue altogether.

But a highly promising aspect to consider is that many people who work on support teams in crypto and blockchain do so out of passion and enthusiasm. Hiring more of these enthusiasts is just one aspect that could drastically improve support across the board.

Tackling mass adoption challenges

Cryptocurrencies, and particularly Bitcoin, enjoyed their first moment in the spotlight a little less than a decade ago. Then it mostly fell out of the news cycle, with only the odd headline to remind the casual observer that it continued to exist. Its current popularity, however, is causing new levels of speculation, bringing more consumer attention to the trend. Schuetz says that when cryptocurrency is in a bull market and the price of Bitcoin is a hot topic in the news media, support tickets spike.

Whether cryptocurrency exchanges, hard wallet manufacturers and other service providers can actually handle the increase is another matter, says Schuetz. "Ticket load can suddenly increase by multiples of ten, or even more for popular products or services. Sadly, many companies aren't prepared. Either they're too new, can't find qualified support staff fast enough or haven't allocated an adequate budget."

When demand for support peaks, some firms consider outsourcing customer service to a trusted partner. Expanding your team can be cost-effective and dependable way to offer customer support at scale.

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Schuetz also recommends cross-training existing staff so they can pitch in during peak or overload periods to help alleviate these challenges. Giving developers, marketers and HR staff at least some time on the frontlines of support not only gives them the skills to help out in a pinch, but also provides them with a deeper understanding of the business they're in and the range of issues facing their customers.

Education and self-service also play an important role in helping customers get their issues resolved, as well as alleviating the ticket support burden. In the same way that CX team members in crypto need motivation and resources to learn the fundamentals of the space, customers should be empowered to do likewise.

An extensive knowledge base or FAQ section is essential for saving customers time and reducing ticket load. By cross-training staff and implementing stronger education and self-service portals, crypto companies can gain a stronger footing in meeting the expectations of every type of consumer.

Building crypto support for the future

As crypto companies strive towards achieving a support environment that is fast, accurate and collaborative, emerging technologies and strategies are boosting their efforts. Schuetz says a hybrid AI/human approach to service helps prioritize efficiency and empathy. Chatbots, for example, can work alongside their human counterparts, and are particularly effective when they are aligned with your brand voice and used to tackle simple, repetitive inquiries.

Ensuring a high-tech, high-touch approach is also essential to popularizing cryptocurrency beyond the Millennials and Gen Zers, who are already tech-savvy customers, and expanding it to Baby Boomers and Generation Xers too. Avoiding over-automating or over-complicating tech-based support on the frontend is key to inclusion.

It's also wise to consider influencers and the wider community around a product, token or project as an extension of the internal support team. Working with influencers pays dividends over time. A notable YouTuber or Twitch streamer can make an FAQ or tutorial video that helps thousands of consumers figure out how to use a wallet or the features of an exchange, answering their queries before a support ticket becomes necessary.

"A big part of the crypto spirit is about equality, community and transparency," Schuetz concludes. "This means reducing hierarchies and fostering a sense of collaboration between support teams, users, customers and the larger community.

"I'm definitely looking forward to a future where crypto support staff are regarded to be just as valuable as developers."

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