Sep 30, 2020

Agents for Async Messaging or Live Chat Agents?

Leslie Feldman
By Leslie Feldman

Content Marketing Manager

Agents are at the heart of customer services interactions. So if you’re thinking of adopting asynchronous messaging—and you totally should be—it’s fitting to focus on your agents first.

The Importance of Async Messaging

To satisfy the most customers most completely, you’ve got to meet them on their own terms—via their preferred channel and at their chosen times—and you have to make sure those interactions are effortless, efficient, personal, and complete.

Those happen to be the twin virtues of asynchronous messaging. For more details, visit our Benefits of Asynchronous Messaging web page.

Asynchronous messaging is already a principal way brands and customers engage with one another. And its popularity is surging, fueled by customers’ growing online appetites as well as advances in automation technologies—plus an expanding corps of well-trained messaging agents.

Async Messaging: A New Ballgame

Asynchronous messaging differs from chat in ways both subtle and profound. Nobody knows that better than the involved agents.

The Hallmarks of Chat

Chats are fast, linear, incremental, and discrete.

Chat customers reveal their intent, and their live chat agents resolve the issues, in conversational bursts. The chat format encourages instant, necessarily superficial responses, so each rapid-fire exchange moves the conversation only partway to resolution; that’s why in a typical chat, a customer turns six times and the agent turns seven. To keep things moving, an agent must quickly establish, and continuously reinforce, an emotional rapport with the customer.

Above all, chat/messaging agents focus on solving the matter at hand. Now.

The Hallmarks of Asynchronous Messaging

In contrast, asynchronous messaging conversations are deliberate, contextual/personalized, comprehensive, and episodic/ongoing.

Because customers know texting—threads don’t time out or disappear, and pauses are natural—they don’t mind when asynchronous messaging agents take up to three times longer (compared to chat) to initially respond. This gives agents the time to research a broader, more personalized, even forward-looking solution.

Customers typically aid this effort by composing an initial message that reveals most, if not all, of their intents. With all the cards on the table, conversations go quickly past introductions and, with fewer turns—typically two apiece for the customer and agent—as well as fewer transfers and escalations, move on to resolution in record time. A searchable conversation history means returning customers and their messaging agents gain valuable context and don’t start over from scratch.

Not surprisingly, both customers and agents report they’re more satisfied with asynchronous messaging than with any other channel.

What Makes an Ideal Messaging Agent?

Given asynchronous messaging’s unique characteristics, you see why the following agent attributes are key.

  • Recognize the big picture and understand the complete set of intents—This requires sustained listening and the ability to at first go slow.
  • Quickly process all the elements—This requires the ability to simultaneously consider multiple elements and recognize patterns.
  • Look beyond the immediate issues—This requires inquisitiveness and the ability to construct logical next steps.
  • Offer a complete response—This requires research skills and the ability to produce a one-and-done solution.

Note: [24]7.ai recommends using separate, dedicated agents for each channel. Asynchronous messaging requires a particular agent mindset, so using blended agents who switch between the two mediums will cost you in lost productivity.

This is a good place to note [24]7.ai agents are trained for advanced digital environments including asynchronous messaging. To learn more, visit our [24]7 Agent Services page.

How Should Agents Use All the Extra Time?

Chats last, on average, 10.6 minutes. Asynchronous messaging conversations, on average, take just two-thirds as long—seven minutes. That frees up a lot of time. And because these customers choose to pause so many of their threads (for minutes and hours, sometimes even days, weeks, or months), their agents engage in a greater number of concurrent conversations.

Asynchronous messaging enables agents to research the customer’s history and uncover other service, support, and upsell opportunities—all great ways to strengthen relationships and increase sales. For their part, customers using asynchronous messaging are more likely than their chat counterparts to be open to discussing sign-ups, upgrades, etc. They don’t feel pressured to resolve their issues in a single interaction, and they’re already more satisfied with the process. 

Better customer insight means more personalized suggestions, which are likelier to stick. As it happens, asynchronous messaging customers are happier with their choices than chat customers. Their agents have given them personalized options as well as the time needed to reach a firm, thought-out decision. Less “buyer’s remorse” translates directly into fewer costly (and dissatisfying) returns.

Create Your Own Team of Chat Messaging Experts

Is your customer services organization ready to support a Team of Experts? Since pioneered with great success by T-Mobile in 2018, the Team of Experts model—a largely self-sufficient, resource-rich group dedicated to, and responsible for, serving a specific customer segment or set of customers—has rocketed around the business world.

Asynchronous messaging is a fantastic foundation for creating your own Team of Experts!

We’ll explore how in our next blog. Stay tuned!

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