Messaging: The New AI Medium for Customer Service (Don’t Be Left Behind)

By 3 Minute Read

Employ messaging for customer service. Don’t be left behind.

Considering most of us use messaging to communicate with our friends and family on a daily basis, it shouldn’t be a surprise that messaging has been appointed as the new preferred channel of engagement for resolving customer service issues. Businesses that wish to remain competitive and offer exceptional service experiences will be forced to offer messaging in their suite of tools made available for customers to use when in need of service.

Over the last 5 years, we have witnessed phenomenal growth in the rise of messaging apps – driven in no small part by millennials and the soaring popularity of chat apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and other well-known chat apps. Research shows that mobile messaging apps have overtaken social networks to become the dominant platforms on phones. This phenomenon is being driven in no small part because these apps have become mini-ecosystems in themselves that include browsing, shopping and ordering all available within the messaging app itself.

Ted Livingston of Kik predicts, “Chat apps will come to be thought of as the new browsers; bots will be the new websites. This is the beginning of a new Internet.”

To take it one step further, a recent Forbes article author equated Chat on mobile devices to what email has been to the computer – the primary way we communicate. Put another way, messaging apps are the killer app on mobile in the same way that email was the killer app on the desktop.

Messaging Meets Customer Service

Given its popularity, it’s no wonder that messaging has become the #1 way in which millennials want to communicate with customer service. A 2016 OpenMarket report found that 75% of millennials would prefer a text-only phone over a voice-only phone and 63% prefer receiving texts rather than calls because they are less disruptive. In a follow up survey by OpenMarket they found that texting is the #1 preferred channel for notifications from businesses and that 83% of millennials would prefer to text than to call a 1-800 number.

In an August 2016 report conducted by Ovum on what contact centers must do to bridge the “digital customer service gap”, the survey showed that 83% of customers used mobile applications for support, including mobile websites for customer service and that easier access to online support channels was the #1 priority for customer service (followed by faster response times as #2).

Mary Meeker of KPCB shows in her most recent (& tech-favorite) Annual Internet Trends, that research indicates social media and messaging are the best ways for businesses to contact millennials. She states that social media can provide an opportunity to improve customer service by driving accountability (and perhaps remove the fear of receiving negative comments). In her 2016 Annual Trends report, she raises the idea of a “Messaging Secret Sauce” – which she describes as the “Magic of the Thread” i.e. the fact that the messaging provides a natural thread showing a historical timeline, including context, preferences, and specifics. In other words, messaging is ideal for an application in customer service where we can see a single view of the customer including the history of previous interactions and allows us to understand at a glance the context of the conversation, the identity of the person and what the request or problem is.

The other big benefit of messaging for customer service is that both parties don’t have to be present. Ever since the first SMS or text, we have been trained to understand that even if someone doesn’t respond right away, they can pick up the conversation at any point later and continue without losing information or context. This is the beauty and advantage of messaging over Live Chat which requires both parties to be present and remain present or the session will get shut down.

Messaging for customer service also affords a big win for businesses on the cost front and satisfaction front – it changes how they staff for peak times and facilitates the elimination of long wait times and queues altogether.

Lastly, because messaging for customer service works across all modern digital channels, it is the ideal medium through which to bring these channels together for a frictionless customer service experience. Messaging works on web (web chat), mobile, social media, and on digital assistants like Siri and Cortana. It can be made to work with older technologies like email (which is a form of messaging but more cluttered!) or on newer technologies like home devices (Amazon Echo and Google Home) that convert voice commands to messages. These technologies can even be used in your car. For example, you can start a conversation in the morning on your Amazon Echo device, check-in later on web chat and follow up that night with a message in your mobile app (in-app message). In this scenario, your history follows you from channel to channel, creating a seamless experience for you and more intel for the businesses solving your problems.

At ServisBOT, we have taken this concept of messaging as a medium across all digital channels as a way for enterprises to provide the fast and efficient support that customers (especially millennials) want, when they want it and in a manner and pace that fits their lifestyle. Customers can look forward to a world with no more queueing, transferring, dropped calls (or dropped live chat sessions) and without continually having to repeat themselves.

We like to call the experience above the Netflix effect – the time-shifting aspect of dealing with customer service – and we believe that this concept is going to transform customer service the same way that Netflix transformed how we view our favorite shows (see our blog on why Netflix is a good analogy for transforming customer service).

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