The four pillars of a great customer messaging experience

In the first instalment of her ‘Building a Blueprint for Mobile Messaging’ series, Angie Bell outlines the messaging interfaces available and how they can be integrated with your natural business flow.

angie-bell-twilio-small copyIn a relatively short time, mobile messaging has eclipsed all other modes of communication as the way we connect, share, and engage in conversations. It’s how people prefer to communicate today.

Based on our experience with companies like Uber and Airbnb, we’ve learned the best practices of mobile messaging firsthand. In order to help you navigate the mobile messaging landscape and develop your company’s strategy, we created a framework that we call The Four I’s Framework for Mobile Messaging.

The four pillars of the framework are: interfaces, integration, intelligence, and infrastructure. Let’s take a closer look.

1. Interfaces

Interfaces are the messaging channels you use to reach your customer, which include SMS, push notifications, in-app chat, and dedicated messaging apps. Email and voice communications are additional interfaces. There will likely be more than one interface that works for your customers.

Here’s a brief summary of each:

  • SMS: the grandfather of messaging – with its invention dating back to 1992 – is still the most-used mobile feature.
  • In-app: many businesses add full-featured chat directly to their web or mobile app. Contextual information such as recent activity in the app and data typed into fields can be shared between parties over chat.
  • Push notifications let an app send one-way messages, badges, and alerts even when the device’s screen is locked and the app is closed.
  • Messaging apps have been the most exciting interface in recent years, and include Facebook Messenger, Viber, Apple iMessage, WeChat, WhatsApp, and Kik.

2. Integration

Mobile communication needs to work in lockstep with the natural flow of business, using information that’s relevant to each stage of the customer journey. When you integrate information from your CRM, ERP, and other enterprise systems that may contain customer shipping information, past orders, or ongoing support issues, your communication will be much more effective.

Integration gives customers a more personalised and efficient, experience. Internally, with this additional context, businesses can pick the most convenient way to communicate with customers, including the best timing and the most useful interface for the message or task.

3. Intelligence

Messaging is more than just exchanging content between people. It involves a tremendous amount of intelligence to analyse content, deliver the message to the right person (or bot), and respond in the context of that interaction. It’s also a very powerful solution – giving businesses the ability to communicate with more users at scale, at a far lower cost.

Intelligence can help you engage with larger numbers of customers without sacrificing the quality of the interaction. Today, AI powers chatbots that respond to customers, and can be seen in apps like Skype, Facebook Messenger, and Slack.

Sometimes, businesses harness both human intelligence and AI, with chatbots supported by human agents. In this approach, a bot is a first-to-respond entity that falls back on a human agent if it doesn’t know how to respond effectively. Facebook M, Fin, and Clara are examples of this type of bot.

4. Infrastructure

When adding messaging to your software, you used to have two choices: build everything from scratch, or buy an off-the-shelf SaaS solution. Recently, a new method has emerged: cloud building blocks for messaging. With cloud building blocks, services are delivered from the cloud using APIs. You effectively get the customisation of a build-your-own architecture with the ease of an off-the-shelf solution.

What’s next?

In order to truly set yourself apart from the crowd, you need to prioritise the customer experience and use your mobile messaging technology effectively. Once you’ve discovered the right channels for your company and created a strategy for communications, you’ll also learn how you can design and build an experience your customers will love.

 

This article is part one of a series. Next time: learn more about the different messaging channels.

Angie Bell is director, Asia Pacific at Twilio.