When uncertainty struck, customer experience operations had to repurpose themselves to handle higher volumes of messaging interactions across multiple platforms, accelerate their use of automation in the channel and recruit the right kind of talent to fit modern customer expectations. In a world where consumers already were already living on their phones, these moments of crisis made digital connections more necessary than ever.
As consumers interest in messaging continues to grow, it’s crucial to understand the right strategies and bust some myths about this powerful customer support tool:
Striking the right balance between humanity and technology
A smart approach is to have machines and humans work together in the messaging channel. For example, iterative automation layers using bots can (and should) be used to answer routine, repetitive customer service inquiries, while allowing support associates to tend to more complex interactions throughout the value chain—all the while driving a vastly improved customer experience.
As we think about the human layer in the experience, associates handling messaging need to be trained on the best ways to interact with customers via this channel. Emojis, short codes and individuality are encouraged to be successful—very much like how they interact with friends and family in their daily lives. Associates will also need to handle multiple sessions at once and be prepared for immediate assistance. It’s a very different approach than voice, and even traditional live web chat.
Messaging myths debunked
As companies embrace messaging, there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding out there. Before leaping into the channel, it’s important to spot the fiction from reality when it comes to delivering great messaging experiences. We’ve debunked some of the most common messaging myths that brands have.
Myth #1: Messaging = Chat
Chat is a dedicated interaction session that pops up on a brand’s website and/or mobile app. And while chat serves a purpose in the omnichannel ecosystem, these platforms often keep the customer glued to one channel, ineffectively.
Messaging, on the other hand, allows for asynchronous, personal and immediate communication between a customer and associate via a mobile phone SMS platform. This allows for an always-on connection to a brand, where previous conversations are saved and conversations can happen as easily as a text message to a friend.
Myth #2: The tech is all you need
Messaging is fun, personal and casual. It creates an environment where users feel like they are talking to a friendly in-store associate. That’s why it’s critical to lead with customer experience strategy and design, not the tech.
Don’t be so quick to offer a tool to customers that is not in good hands. Customers use messaging apps because they are easy and familiar to use, so don’t risk your brand’s reputation with a rushed product solution that hasn’t been designed to meet specific customer needs.
Myth #3: You can keep the same metrics
Metrics need to change, period. Traditional metrics like average handle time have no relevance in messaging. Your metrics need to be more outcome-based rather than efficiency-based, as consumer behaviour and expectations in messaging channels are different than in voice. Good places to start (and iterate from) should include first contact resolution, CSAT, NPS, number of concurrent messages per agent and customer effort score.
Myth #4: Voice and messaging associates are the same
Voice associates do not equal messaging associates, and to a lesser extent the same is true for chat associates. Just because you have rock star voice associates does not mean that will translate to a tiger team of associates in messaging channels. Different skills such as tech savviness, comfort with informal language and emoji-driven shorthand, typing speed and ability to improvise and quickly problem solve are highly desirable.
Myth #5: Messaging is mostly used to resolve customer service issues
Messaging exists and thrives throughout the entire customer journey– from discovery to sale to service to re-purchase and loyalty-building. Messaging channels like Apple Business Chat, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc., are feature- and content-rich, and as such allow for some pretty cool and sophisticated interactions and experiences along all journey stages.
Messaging leads to faster, better service
TTEC messaging experts supported a global mobile phone service provider with its expansion of messaging services including Apple Business Chat. The client needed skilled associates who could handle multiple conversations for multiple functions simultaneously. We quickly applied our best practices across associate training, knowledge building and performance.
The client had already engaged TTEC to provide messaging support through other platforms, and we provided training specific to Apple Business Chat, including knowledgebase optimisation and mock scenarios to ensure associates were comfortable conversing on the new messaging platform. We accelerated and scaled training using AI and machine learning technology to simulate actual customer scenarios. The training was on-demand and associates received real-time feedback and coaching.
Within a few days, more than 200 TTEC messaging experts were trained on Apple Business Chat. The client entrusted our associates to handle the messaging overflow from two of their internal teams. TTEC on average handled four concurrent messaging sessions, which was four times the rate of a regular chat channel. In addition to the larger interaction volume, customer satisfaction with the messaging channel rose to 89 per cent, which was up to par with the client’s KPIs.
Send a clear message
The move to messaging as a primary interaction channel is a crucial step in the transformation of brands to truly meet customers where they are and where they want to be. But like any sport, just because you’ve seen the match doesn’t make you a top-flight athlete. The winners in messaging will be those who have practised and understood the channel well before rolling it out. Learn the game, be open to new rule changes and adjusting your game plan on the fly, then get out there and play.