One silver lining from the pandemic: It showed enterprises just how powerful asynchronous business messaging is for pleasing customers and saving money.
For many 7.ai clients, COVID-19 simultaneously created a sudden surge in messaging volume and a sudden reduction in the number of agents available to deal with it: In the second quarter their agent numbers shrank 33 percent while their messaging traffic shot up 38 percent. Remarkably, CSAT and resolution scores went UP during this time.
Put simply, business messaging absorbed the increased traffic, insulated our clients from the impact of having fewer agents, and improved CX overall. How is that even possible?
Business messaging doesn’t follow the same structure as chat or voice, where the communication is sequential and customers expect immediate, real-time gratification.
In asynchronous communication, the customer starts the conversation and parks it at their discretion, picking it up later on their own terms. The customer usually spells out what they need at the outset, giving agents the information and the time they need to offer a better researched, more comprehensive response.
Asynchronous communication requires much less agent time than chat, even though messaging conversations take place over a longer period, sometimes days or even weeks. Messaging agents participate in more simultaneous interactions—as many as seven or eight, compared to two or three for chat. A blended chat and messaging model requires 20 percent fewer agent hours than chat alone.
When dealing with chat or voice agents, customers expect a response in under a minute (ideally, in under 30 seconds). They have already been waiting on hold or in the chat queue, and they can’t do anything until the agent arrives.
In business messaging, customers reveal their issue(s) immediately; there’s no waiting for an agent. After making the initial gambit, customers—like everyone else accustomed to texting—are OK with a small delay before they hear back. This gives messaging agents the time to collect information for a better, more complete response.
Compared with voice, asynchronous business messaging is 27 percent more cost-effective. That’s huge. To illustrate how formidable this is, most organizations moving to a chat platform strive to achieve just a fraction of that.
Chat agents spend on average 10.6 minutes on a conversation, but due to fewer turns, transfers, and escalations, messaging agents resolve issues in an average of only 7 minutes. Time is money.
Messaging agents are able to provide smarter, more personalized solutions and offers that drive better sales. They have time to review past communications and buying history—messaging channels integrate with CRM systems—and then recommend products and services that resonate with customers. Messaging conversations also lower the incidence of buyer’s remorse—and the resulting returns—because there is less impulse buying; customers making more thoughtful purchasing decisions tend to stick with them.
Perhaps most important, business messaging improves the customer service. Whereas in chat, conversations typically require seven turns to build rapport and solve an issue, in business messaging the customer’s logical and emotional needs are met in only two exchanges. This efficiency lowers costs, of course, but also boosts issue resolution rates and overall customer satisfaction (CSAT), which, compared to chat, are 21 and 18 percent higher, respectively.
Make no mistake: Asynchronous business messaging changes the rules of engagement and requires a different kind of agent. Agents must learn sustained listening and “forward thinking” skills as business messaging exchanges are slower and more deliberate. The cultural shift is worth it. Interactions become more effective and efficient with no loss in empathy. At the end of the day, agents and customers alike are more satisfied.
7.ai has the experience, expertise, technology, and tools enabling you take advantage of everything asynchronous business messaging has to offer.
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