Business text messaging is redefining customer engagement and everyone is better off for it.
Instant messaging for business was the focus of a panel discussion I recently hosted—"Why Customers and Companies are Embracing Asynchronous Business Messaging”—with three customer experience experts:
This is the first in a series in which I’ll share the panel’s insights.
If you prefer to go right to the source, here’s where to watch the on-demand webcast.
Asynchronous business messaging changes the engagement dynamic between you and your customers. Instead of sequential, episodic communications when customers call (or interact with chat agents), business text messaging creates a continuous ongoing conversation. It delivers a seamless experience across channels, speeds resolution, lowers costs, and delights customers, which inclines them to patronize your brand even more.
Messaging apps are where your customers live today—connecting with friends, family, colleagues, and yes, their favorite brands. People send billions of private messages daily, spending more time in messaging than almost any other online activity. WhatsApp users alone send 100 billion messages a day, equal to 69 million a minute. So we’re all habituated to communicating through multithreaded, continuous messaging conversations throughout the day, every day.
Business text messaging gives customers what they expect. More than 75 percent of US consumers say a text message is the best way to reach them, and the same number would prefer that businesses message them about updates and purchases.
“We definitely see a huge appetite from consumers to engage in a more natural and consumer-friendly way,” said Rob Lawson, who heads up partnerships and advocacy for Google’s Business Messages platform.
Business text messaging is a win-win for businesses and customers: It makes it easier for customers to connect and communicate their intent, and easier for contact center agents to serve them.
Business text messaging is already firmly established as an essential piece of an omnichannel market strategy in an increasingly channel-agnostic world.
Prior to our panel discussion, Opus Research’s Dan Miller conducted informal research on preferred business contact methods. It became clear that customers are equally comfortable making purchases and engaging with their brands across virtually every channel.
Customers prefer to interact on the phone about 25 percent of the time, but they are quick to see the benefits of moving to business text messaging rather than spending time on hold, being transferred, or rerouted around an IVR menu. Average wait time is a critical metric in phone-based customer service. Compare that to messaging exchanges, which often play out over days and still result in outstanding customer service scores.
“I think what we’re seeing now is a real tipping point,” said Columbia’s Gerry Woodbury. “The customer preference toward messaging over channels like chat and email is going to swing even heavier in the future.”
While similar, there are marked differences between asynchronous business messaging and SMS or text chat. While SMS has been around for decades and is ubiquitous across mobile devices, it’s good for only limited business communications, such as, “What time does your store close?”
Moving the customer journey forward requires the communications richness of business messaging apps, which offer features such as visual content, storefront capabilities, and even payment. As an over-the-top channel that doesn’t go through carriers, business text messaging is free to use and integrates readily with consumers’ other online activities and searches.
“Unlike SMS, messaging gives us the opportunity to hook into product recommendations,” said Woodbury. “It just creates a better user experience, one that’s also a lot shorter than what a lot of customers are used to.”
There’s an organic appeal to business text messaging. Rather than a one-and-done experience, it creates a nearly endless series of touchpoints. Business text messaging also puts the reins of the engagement firmly in customer hands, letting them voice their intent and take control in a way that’s beyond the reach of traditional self-service options.
In my next blog, we’ll look at the benefits that smart companies see after adopting business text messaging.
Until then, check out the following messaging resources: