Throughout their buying journeys, customers often have questions about a product or service that require assistance from a company representative. But here’s the kicker – they would rather type or text questions in-the-moment than dial a phone number and wait.
Seventy-nine percent of consumers prefer live messaging because they get instant responses, according to 99firms.com. Facebook Messaging is most popular among messaging apps, but industry experts predict the new Apple Business Chat will raise the bar even higher because of its seamless integration into iMessage on users’ iPhones.
As messaging grows as a brand contact channel, the challenge for many companies is finding associates with suitable expertise to interact with customers and prospects effectively on a variety of topics. Apple Business Chat and other emerging messaging services are unique from traditional chat in that messages are open-ended and can be both service- or sales-related. Because of this, associates will need to know how to successfully navigate both types of interactions.
Here are five tips to successfully shift customer care chat associates into versatile sales and service messaging experts:
1. Know your team: Leverage skill assessments, review employment history, and know what traits to listen for. Understanding the skill strengths and weaknesses of customer care chat team members is an important first step toward developing a robust Apple Business Chat team to handle many types of messaging requests. This includes understanding not only how adept individual associates are at communicating and resolving issues for customers via chat, but also how they rate at first contact resolution and customer satisfaction. Creating a holistic view of previous performance and associate skill sets can include manager feedback, sales assessments scores, AHT, CSAT, NPS and FCR to identify which reps would be good fits in the cross-functional role. Developing a standardized template to baseline skill assessment and know what traits to listen for is a worthwhile endeavor.
2. Teach your team: With the right sales training curriculum and on-going coaching you can teach service reps to sell. Assessing the skills and acumen of current customer care associates can help sales leaders identify those reps who have an aptitude for sales. This includes associates who consistently demonstrate empathy with customers and maintain a positive tone in their chat interactions. A well-designed sales training course can be used to fine-tune the skills and capabilities that leaders are looking for Apple Business Chat team members to embody during their interactions with customers and prospects. From there, associates can and should periodically receive hands-on coaching to address any gaps or weaknesses in their performance.
3. Use knowledgebase/chat library enhancements: Continually develop and enhance your chat library to focus on product value, probing questions, relevant next best offers, and sales skills training. Apple Business Chat associates will do a more effective job when they are armed with the right tools and customer insights. Leaders should ensure that chat libraries are kept up-to-date with information that associates can use to help answer commonly asked customer questions about products, promotions, warranties, etc.
4. Drive for exceptional performance: Create a balanced scorecard with the right mix of KPIs measuring both inputs and outcomes to measure success. You can’t manage what you can’t measure, and this includes the performance of new or recent Apple Business Chat associates. Be sure to create a balanced scorecard which includes the key performance indicators that are most important to your customer organization. Also, create rewards and recognition programs to regularly celebrate successes and further incentivize and engage messaging associates.
5. Coach for continuous improvement: Conduct closed-loop coaching processes to review performance, identify areas for opportunity, demonstrate best practices, monitor, follow up and repeat. Great messaging teams have something in common – they continually strive to get better. In addition to regularly evaluating the performance of Apple Business Chat associates for coaching opportunities, the use of text analytics and other tools can also enable leaders to identify skills gaps and issues that arise in customer interactions for further mentoring.