Making the most of the message

In a time where customer experience is everything, Mike Betzer writes about the importance of delivering an optimal experience and getting the omnichannel care strategy right.

In 2020 we have more ways to communicate than any other time in history. But we didn’t get here overnight, and evolving to this point is a constant game of new channels popping up and old channels phasing out. For example, telex and telegrams have gone the way of smoke signals and carrier pigeons and though fax machines still cling to life in some stubborn outposts, that too will no doubt join them soon. And while voice will likely never disappear, there’s a growing population of people that prefer to text or message instead of call. Who among us hasn’t hung up from an awkward business or personal call thinking, ‘I wish that didn’t take quite so long’ or ‘I don’t think I phrased that quite right…’?

Your customers often feel the same way. For brands, phone support may seem similar to a face-to-face interaction, but placing already dissatisfied customers on hold adds to their frustration. Voice is also inefficient for agents, who must take the time to document each conversation fully, often in multiple systems, and can only handle one conversation at a time.

Considering this, it is no surprise that messaging has become the preferred medium of communication – and not only with the young. Nearly two-thirds of Generation Xers and Baby Boomers also prefer to message over calling or emailing. And nearly all customers’ first engagement with a brand starts with a digital touch – with a Google search, on a website, on social media etc.

How should brands engage?

Most of the time, the questions or issues consumers have are simple and can be easily answered from a brand’s FAQ page, online community or app. These are great places to include a messaging icon where customers can ask their question and get their answers quickly from a human expert or a bot. It’s effortless for the customer, efficient for the brand, and suits the high percentage of people who prefer not to go through the pain of leaving a brand’s app or website to get support on the phone or via email. Not offering a messaging option doesn’t just reduce customer loyalty – it can also reduce revenue. A brand’s worst-case scenario is a bad engagement or conversation, with an alarming 82 percent of customers saying they have completely abandoned a brand over a single bad customer service experience. Poor customer service alone can account for $62 billion in lost revenue each year.

While you’re still contemplating that, here’s another sobering statistic: the average cost to a brand of a phone interaction is six times that of solving the same issue via social media. Marketers have long known the dollar difference – in effort and in cost – between retaining existing customers and attracting new ones. So they are fully aware that the risks of failing to deliver an optimal customer experience every time will have significant negative impacts on both brand reputation and the bottom line.

If your brand gets its omnichannel care strategy right, the rewards are huge, and you’ll be three times more likely to retain customers.

Which channel?

Accepting the many advantages of messaging as a communication channel, the next step is to consider your options for messaging channels and get started with the one that best fits your customers.

This is a fast-evolving field, and new players are arriving all the time. It used to be that people who loved Facebook used that platform for everything, but this is changing. If people are mobile, they’re often using Google Maps. Google’s Business Messages has also been growing quickly for all retail during 2020. Smart brands need to invest in this channel now so that, as stores reopen, customers can easily connect. Restaurants are even growing beyond messaging with customers for reservations, to now use messaging to coordinate with their suppliers and technology providers.

It’s encouraging to see the race to be the best with messaging between Google, Apple and Facebook. Even Instagram Messaging is changing rapidly, going from browsing to buying to now giving customers the ability to ask questions in the pre-purchase process. And WhatsApp, which has had such success around the globe, is starting to make inroads in the US market too.

From simple text messaging to Facebook Messenger, China’s popular WeChat, Southeast Asia’s popular LINE and more, the options are growing exponentially. And, beyond these, companies are transitioning to asynchronous messaging on their owned channels, such as their websites and mobile apps. This is the very reason that Khoros Care supports asynchronous messaging for mobile apps.

Points of difference

Just as every channel has its unique features and quirks, it’s also possible to differentiate between customer types, and it’s a good idea to target your messaging service accordingly. Generally speaking, B2C brands have a lot more noise in customer communications, with high volumes of common, predictable and easy-to-answer questions. Bots, AI, automation and workflow are key to handling these at scale.

In the B2B space, however, you generally have experts talking to experts. The volume will be lower, but keeping your customer connected to the right expert and giving easy access to the information required is very important. In many cases, those business customers will want to be able to share what they are learning with their peers.

The sweet spot

Whether B2C or B2B, when customers are reached through the messaging channel of their choice it’s a win/win: happy customers and good business sense for your brand. Messaging on Khoros Care makes conversational commerce easy and gives your brand such advantages as:

  • Consideration – the ability to answer common questions (store locations, business hours, inventory etc) quickly and easily. Up to 80 percent of queries are potentially solved automatically and agents are freed from the grind of repetitive tasks.
  • Connection – with the intuitive application of CRM integration and holistic customer profiles, messaging can deliver similar personal experiences to customers that they enjoy with the families and friends
  • Conversion – considering the above, remember that customers are looking for two-way, genuine relationships, not to be talked at and sold to. Building trust through engagement and education, loyalty and increased sales will follow organically.

Top 10

Forrester Consulting research has found that 68 percent of consumers say they will spend more money with a brand that they feel knows them and treats them as an individual. And if you’re still not convinced, consider the following top 10 benefits of utilising messaging as a prime method of brand communication:

  • Personalisation – the familiar and approachable experience with your brand
  • Convenience – prioritising the customer’s schedule, not yours
  • Mobile – conversations anywhere, anytime
  • Accommodation – no ‘on hold’ times, but a conversation that can be paused and picked up when suitable for the customer
  • Time – every interaction recorded, with no need for repeated information from the customer
  • Cost – less than a phone call or email and so higher CSAT/NPS scores
  • Integration – hyper personalised experiences via CRM integration
  • Profit – goods and services sold at the click of a button
  • Speed – swift routing of issues to the appropriate agent, and
  • Insights – automation and previous data lead to relevant messaging, offers and content at the optimum time.

 

 

Mike Betzer, General Manager of Khoros Care

Mike is the General Manager of Khoros Care where he is focused on maintaining strong customer health across all of the product lines. Mike has been helping big brands interact with customers for 30-plus years. An experienced executive in contact centre and CRM, Mike worked for MCI for 14 years leading contact centres and technology. He then started Ineto Services in 1999, a SaaS contact centre infrastructure company, which he built to profitability over five years and sold to Siebel in 2004.

Mike then led the new Siebel OnDemand division, becoming the lead for CRM strategy at Oracle after Siebel was acquired in 2006. In 2008 he was recruited by Convergys as a President and Officer to create a new technology division and lead key acquisitions. He left Convergys to start Social Dynamx which was acquired by Lithium. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Khoros is the leading customer engagement platform centralising digital channels to provide seamless customer experiences. To learn more or request a demo, visit Khoros.com.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash.