Be it in any form – SMS, Whatsapp, chat, messenger or social chat, businesses unanimously vote for Messaging as one of their must have channel mixes.
Over the last five years while the world is talking about the advances in voice recognition, voice bots and speech based customer service, messaging has been silently evolving, proving its worth and even changing the game for customer service delivery. Take cue from the success story of WhatsApp Business App and API. It is a clear example of how a simple chat based app can grow and scale into becoming a successful customer service delivery platform for businesses. This is true for other instant messengers like Facebook messenger, WeChat, Viber and Apple Business Chat as well.
Messaging interactions, irrespective of the platform are mostly non voice and synchronus in nature that means related conversation that is conducted in a dialogue format one after the other
Customers prefer synchronous channels when the urgency level is high. Also with the new generation customers there is a growing preference of non-voice channels. So messaging is becoming more popular with the new generation customer pool for both one off and synchronus interactions.
Egain in its findings based on a consumer survey of the use of messaging for customer service revealed that by 2020, around 50 million consumers will opt in to receive business SMS! The survey also showed that consumers love the convenience of messaging but struggle mightily with its experience silo and lack of integration.In order to understand which messaging platform to incorporate in your channel mix lets inpidually evaluate the pros and cons of each messaging tool as a customer experience delivery channel – Whatsapp, live chat, chatbot, SMS, messenger and other social chat.
- Widely used platform in both domestic and international market.
- Provides access to global customers at limited cost
- Easy integration with contact center tools like CRM, chat and chatbot to attend several messages at once
- No additional platform adoption cost
- Option of template message for mass and repeated distribution
- The document interaction API allows sharing text, photos, videos, audio notes and music files, pdf documents, contact cards, web urls with customers over the platform
- Provides its own analysis on delivered, read, unread messages
- Most importantly it gives information on the customers using WhatsApp and the ones not using it, so a business can plan its channel wise content delivery
- Penalises if a customer’s messages are not responded to within 24 hours
- Its not necessary that the customer will be using Whatsapp
- Provides one click access to customer support agent
- Chat allows customers to multi-task, even when they are waiting for an answer they can do other work
- The conversations can be saved by a customer for future reference
- The present day proactive chats ensure that a business reaches out to customers at defining moments, like when they are on a transaction page or have left things in the cart for some time.
- It is an inexpensive way of engaging with a company and agent can handle multiple chats simultaneously
- Chat integrated with ticketing or service CRM, help agents raise and share tickets in one click
- It can be integrated with other contact center tools like CRM, chatbot, omnichannel etc.
- Analysing an agent’s performance is simple with chat analytics
- Disposing and collecting customer feedback after completing a conversation is simple and straightforward with live chats
- Allows sharing of documents, web urls, images over the chat platform
- A chat software brings functionalities like screen share, chat conferencing, chat transfer etc to make the service delivery accurate and to achieve resolutions in the first interaction
- Providing 24X7x365 chat support can become cost intensive for businesses
- Agents time can be better utilised handling complex scenarios, than answering routine question. Time optimisation therefore becomes a challenge with live chat
- It is ill suited for most mobile devices unless properly integrated in mobile apps
- Depending on the chat provider, some chats don’t stay if a customer navigates to a different page on the website
- Seeing a chat agent offline does not leave a good impression on customers
- Customers have to visit the website or app to initiate live chat, which may not be of their interest
- Provides 24X7 availability
- Available in both rule based and conversational formats
- The rule based chatbot has low scope of failure due to its guided flow
- Conversational bot has the power to engage with near human interaction skills
- Chatbots can easily handle regular or repetitive queries
- Most of the chatbots have the option to transfer to live agent when it cannot handle the queries or the customer prefers to move to live agent
- Chatbot can be integrated with CRM, Chat, Social Media and Omnichannel to deliver holistic customer service
- It works as an important self-help tool for customers
- Allows sharing of documents, web urls, images over the chatbot platform
- Chatbots improve efficiency of agents by freeing them to handle complex interactions
- Scaling a business with chatbots is cost effective
- Training a conversational bot is a continuous process and can’t be achieved in a day
- Investing in a chatbot is costlier than some of the other messaging platforms like WhatsApp, SMS, social chats etc where the communication can be asynchronous but is cheaper than live chat
- It is ill suited for most mobile devices unless properly integrated in mobile apps
- Depending on the provider, some chats with a chatbot don’t stay if a customer navigates to a different page on the website
- SMS is a non-intrusive way of communicating with customers
- It is a cheaper alternative to some of the other messaging platforms for bulk distribution of content
- Good for uni-directional communication like reminders, offer promotions, bank updates etc.
- SMS is highly popular for OTP verifications, making them a good identification and verification tool
- Two-way interaction is not always possible with SMS as broadcast messages are limited by Telecom provider as uni-directional
- A business can only share web urls over SMS, unlike other messaging platforms that allow businesses to share multimedia contents like documents, images, videos etc.
- Taking customer feedback over SMS is not as frictionless as it is with some other messaging tools.
- DND restrictions reduce the reach of SMS messages
- Provide availability to businesses on channels where customers frequent – be close to customers!
- Has seen tremendous growth as a service platform in recent years
- Depending on the provider, a social messaging platform can furnish greater understanding of a customer, by providing their social profiles
- A grievance managed promptly and correctly on social media, creates instant word of mouth and good PR for a business
- The virality of social media is a double edged sword
Now that we have seen the pros and cons of each messaging channel, lets try to place them on a matrix to evaluate them on the basis of their cost verses platform adoption efforts, scalability and ease of use for customers.
From the comparison above, you can infer that investing in personalised messaging channels that have widespread applicability can bring more bang for your bucks. These are also channels that can be integrated with other experience delivery tools with ease to provide a complete 360-degree experience to customers in a frictionless manner.
It is worth reminding ourselves that messaging saves a lot of time owing to its simplicity and its asynchronous nature. Different messaging tools add different strengths to a business’s customer experience strategy. If we can agree that customer service between people essentially happens via conversations, and think about the traits of messaging discussed above, we begin to realize how powerful this channel can be. Messaging as a channel brings with it all the characteristics that could very well make it the “final frontier” in customer service, or the broader area of customer engagement and customer experience.
Relatively few companies today have defined a comprehensive messaging customer service strategy. However, many are actively exploring it, and we want to say it makes all the sense in the world.
Author Bio: Akanksha is an IT enthusiast, having an experience of 7 years in marketing and promotion. She has experience in varied industries, in positions working across the line of marketing. She is a day dreamer, an avid reader and a crazy traveler when she is not working.