WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger and WeChat have transformed the way we interact socially.
Now, they’re transforming the way we communicate with businesses. From paper to email to batch and blast SMS, organisations are now looking to the latest generation of messaging apps like WhatsApp Business Solution and Apple Business Chat to help differentiate their customer experience by supporting customers on the channels they use every day.
One of messaging’s most valuable attributes is that it can also be much more efficient for support operations and contact centres. While voice is still important, agents can handle up to five messaging chats simultaneously for every voice call, and the time to solve and close cases can be cut by up to 70 per cent. The persistence of messaging channels mean that agents aren’t leaving messages or waiting for people to call back, and it’s easy to track and trace from an audit point of view.
It’s not just the channels that have transformed, but also the expectations of the experience that should be delivered. The days of a ‘do not reply’ email or SMS are numbered, we now expect communications with businesses to be two-way and proactive. When we get a parcel delivery, we now expect to receive tracking and delivery notifications as well as the ability to do things like change the delivery date or set a ‘safe place’.
The changing role of messaging in the customer support
If I think about the banking sector for example, the use of messaging and alerts has been around for a while. But moving this into two-way messaging can transform how banks manage something like possible fraudulent transactions. Using an app, SMS or even something like Facebook Messenger can help trigger an automated alert to check the validity of a transaction in real-time, linking customers back into the contact centre as needed on the same channel used to alert them.
Automation, such as moving information requests like ‘where is my order’ into a bot-based information agent for retail, can reduce inbound requests by up to 30 per cent, and messaging channels lend themselves well to such automation. But you also need to bring in business logic to automation. No one appreciates a delivery schedule message at 2:30am, even if that is when my parcel has arrived at the distribution centre.
You want to serve customers, agents and your business better, but where do you start
Shifting from an inbound contact centre model to a proactive two-way customer support hub can be difficult to achieve. Just standing up digital channels isn’t enough, you also need to integrate them into your processes and back-end system estate. For your agents, everything needs to be in one desktop environment and it needs to be easy to take customers from one channel to another in a seamless way, with a 360-degree view of customer interactions to empower them to serve the customer better.
Customers are increasingly impressed by proactivity from businesses in the convenience economy and they buy more from organisations that make it easy to do business with them, but the question is where do you start, which doesn’t have to involve lengthy and expensive transformation.
I believe there are five things you need to get right to make digital messaging a success for the contact centre and the wider customer support operation:
- Do the digital channels you support today offer one-to-one agent chat and two-way communication in customer journeys? And, can your new and existing channels work together?
- The orchestration of your inbound and outbound communication mix. Real-time communication events and data need to be controlled, managed and utilised to monitor service health and drive iteration.
- Future proof your customer support operation by being channel agnostic, meaning no matter the customer interaction channel, data can be pulled from systems across the business to serve the customer and personalise the experience.
- Chatbots are great, but how can you use them to augment your contact centre’s operation? Not only can they act as a new digital frontline, but bots can help ease the pressure on contact centre agents by automating certain key tasks and processes to reduce human workload, for example FAQ’s.
- The definition of what omnichannel means to your business and how can it benefit your customers. A clear, aligned vision that’s sold across the entire organisation will help to drive long-term success.
Find out how to transform your customer experience.
Offer a seamless omnichannel experience
You want to introduce new channels so your customers can choose how they get in touch with you, but you don’t want to add complexity or increase your costs.