The advantages of adopting messaging for customer service
Helen Billingham, Senior Social Media and Public Relations Manager, Enghouse Interactive
Messaging apps are now part of everyone’s daily lives. Ninety-one percent of UK mobile phone users rely on the likes of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to communicate with friends and family. For many of us the combination of speed, usability and the spread of smartphones make them the default way of staying in touch and chatting with family, friends and business colleagues.
Given this growth, messaging is increasingly becoming a popular channel for customer service, delivering nine key benefits:
Consumers and contact centre agents are all familiar with messaging apps, meaning there is no need to train anyone on how to use them.
Designed to be easy to access and use, apps have been widely adopted across different demographic groups.
While consumers have access to a multitude of channels, messaging apps are something they check multiple times every day. So incoming, relevant messages from businesses are unlikely to be missed. For this reason, many organisations such as housing associations are using WhatsApp to confirm and remind people of appointments.
With end-to-end encryption, apps are built to be secure, keeping conversations private. So, customer information can be shared without the need for identity verification. It is also more difficult for users to forward negative messages to the wider world compared to social media networks.
Messaging apps provide a full record of the conversation, stored on the devices of everyone involved. Additionally, it is easy to see when messages have been delivered and read, proving they have reached the recipient.
6. Multimedia support
The combination of messaging apps and smartphone cameras make it easy to record and share photos and videos. Agents can also quickly share links with information or advice.
7. Greater agent productivity
As with channels such as web chat, experienced agents can handle multiple conversations concurrently. This increases productivity without impacting customer satisfaction.
Conversations can be real-time (synchronous) like web chat. Alternatively, they can be asynchronous, without the need for an instant response (as with e-mail). This flexibility means messaging are suitable for both queries requiring an instant response and those that are less urgent.
It is easy to set up groups in messaging apps to focus on specific areas, speeding up collaboration. Experts can be quickly added to conversations between consumers and advisors, enabling them to contribute to solving problems.
Successfully embracing messaging for customer service
Given these advantages, many contact centres are adding messaging to their omnichannel strategy. However, as with any new channel, it is vital to put in place the right strategy and processes to deliver success. Companies need to consider these six points:
1. Set expectations
In their personal lives, many people expect a near-instant response to their messages. Clearly this is difficult to achieve in a busy contact centre, so make sure consumers know the timescales you are working to.
2. Focus on specific use cases
Work out where implementing messaging can deliver value and build use cases around these, rather than simply launching it to everyone. For example, look at how it can deliver proactive reminders of appointments, rather than looking to replace other channels.
3. Resource it correctly
Understand the likely demand through pilot programmes, and make sure you allocate the right resources to messaging to meet your stated service levels.
4. Choose your technology
At a basic level, businesses can simply use third-party apps such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp for customer service. However, these apps are obviously outside your control. Therefore, for larger organisations it may make more sense to include messaging features in their own, existing apps if they are well-used by consumers. These can also add extra features such as geolocation to help provide context to the conversation.
5. Build processes and train your people
Standardise responses by providing agents with templates to use when responding on messaging apps – and train everyone on the language and tone to adopt on the channel. Also put in place handover processes so that another agent at the end of an advisor’s shift picks up open messaging conversations.
6. Integrate with your wider channel strategy
In an omnichannel world consumers may start a conversation on a messaging app and then switch to a channel such as chat or the telephone. Additionally, ensure there are no gaps and share all information automatically shared when these switches occur.
The growth of messaging opens new opportunities to improve customer service. However, integrate the channel carefully into your strategy to deliver optimal results. Find out more on how to achieve this in the ContactBabel Inner Circle Guide to Video & Next-Generation Customer Contact, sponsored by Enghouse Interactive. Download your free copy here.