Communicate with customers in the channel they know and love the most
We’re a nation of people who love to do everything on our mobile phones. We browse, shop, chat, socialise, share videos and pictures, book holidays, stream TV and films. But when it comes to sorting out issues or getting better deals, why do we still reach for the telephone or open up a browser? Even where we can do these things in a downloaded app, the functionality is limited compared to the phone or online.
Telecoms and media operators are some of the most advanced mobile digital companies in the world, and actually provide the device that makes this ‘favoured channel’ easily accessible. Yet instead, it is the fintechs that are leading the way with mobile and digital adoption.
Analysing why mobile phone customers contact their provider, over 60% of voice contacts could easily be moved to a messaging channel, with the power to increase (not diminish) the customer satisfaction rates.
In a recent study at a large Capita telecoms client, 93% of customer journeys generate a higher CSAT (customer satisfaction score) via messaging versus voice.
A new report from Kustomer, which surveyed more than 3,000 global consumers of varying ages to explore trends in the customer experience (CX) landscape, found that brands should change the way they communicate now to prepare for the future. Consumers specifically pointed to social messaging (46%), WhatsApp (38%) and SMS or text messaging (39%) as channels they think they will be more likely to use to communicate with brands in the next five years.
The study found that only 39% of consumers respond to emails multiple times a day. On the other hand, 52% respond to text messages frequently.
How going digital can have a huge impact
Digital adoption is a major objective for telecoms brands looking to improve their CX while dramatically reducing the cost to serve.
Over the last few years, one of our clients has switched the digital communication channel of choice for its customers from live chat to asynchronous messaging (ASM). ASM now delivers the highest CSAT and resolution performance of all available customer channels. Pre-2018, the firm was only using live chat with no messaging at all. By 2022, they had moved to a split of 30% live chat and 70% messaging.
Digital channel of choice
|We continue to enhance the effectiveness and accessibility of the messaging channel for customers with our pre-chat service - customers are triaged by a bot on the website and directed to self-help/ FAQs where applicable, they’re prompted to download the client app for messaging and informed not to expect an ‘instant response’ so it’s clear it’s not a live chat channel.
In summary, asynchronous messaging has been shown to deliver higher CSAT (30% points uplift), increase resolution rates (as high as 88%) and reduce the workload (lower messages per contact) when compared with other digital channels such as chat. With time to prepare responses, the messaging focus is also on anticipating future queries and answering there and then in the same interaction – eliminating future contact.
More than just an additional channel
There are key differences between digital messaging and digital live chat – our chat advisers have undergone focused re-training to ‘lose’ the habits of chat and develop a more proactive engagement approach in messaging:
For the advisor
For the customer
- Different skills required: advisors had to unlearn the chat skills of short, chatty, multiple messages.
- Different style of written interaction - long written responses to ensure the query is thoroughly resolved for the customer.
- Different style of engagement: customer receives full written responses with additional info embedded within
- Different expectations set: no need for customer ID&V request, if using registered mobile, prewarned not to expect ‘immediate’ response
|Future proof the conversation: the advisors anticipate future requests from the customers, and provide more comprehensive responses, to drive resolution and customer satisfaction (reduce repeat contacts)
The result has been higher resolution rates thanks to the automated digital triage, and fewer messages needed to resolve the same type of queries. The highest CSAT of all contact channels for the telco client, and much lower cost than chat
There’s a right and wrong way of offering ASM to customers
Offering an ‘advisor in your pocket’ service to customers can lead to induced demand, for the following reasons:
- perception from the customer that they have ‘advisor in my pocket’ available 24/7 to answer every request whenever they need it
- only offering ASM via the App requires download and the historical low ‘take up’ could hinder adoption
- the ‘always on ‘facility creates incremental query volume, rather than replacing existing demand via other existing channels
- without triage messaging can create an expectation that the channel can be used for every single query type
- all of these issues create unrealistic expectations, that will result in customer dissatisfaction with the service
Customers have derived expectations around the speed of response given their existing use of a particular channel. Channels should be deployed to reflect this native use while considering the journey propensity and urgency. Also, the dynamism of the deployment should reflect the need and the ability to integrate into applications that hold information to resolve customer queries. For example, a knowledge-based FAQ could be deployed across messenger applications and resolved without authenticated integration, and an account-based query would require authentication and integration into CRM type applications.
Optimising the effectiveness of messaging is a journey
The principal factors in optimising effectiveness are:
- the number of messaging channels made available (e.g. Messenger, WhatsApp, brand app)
- the level of automation introduced (e.g. a 24/7 service can be created through the use of conversational AI out of hours, automating simple processes within the messaging channel)
- which customers, at what point and for what purpose, are offered the messaging channel (e.g. sales opportunities, complex queries, complaints may all be better served in other channels).
Each of these initiatives will dictate the level of adoption by customers, resolution by advisors and cost to serve for the business.
The vehicle to developing the optimal messaging channel is where digital triage comes in and messaging offers an ideal form of digital triage. Automated triage identifies the customer journey and determines the best route to resolution in the following way:
- the customer is informed to make an inbound call to contact centre
- the customer engages in ASM with agent to resolution
- the customer remains speaking to an automated BOT/AI and resolved
- an appointment is booked for specialist agent to outbound call customer to resolve query
- and finally the customer moved to video enabled conversation to resolve the issue.
The most appropriate route for each type of query can be assigned through triage – such as routing to the most suitable advisor for first contact resolution, retaining the customer in the automated chat for simple query resolution, scheduling an outbound call, diverting to self-serve option or deploying other technology solutions such as video.
Benefits for the advisor
According to a study by Bulb Tech, agents using ASM have up to three times more time to respond to concerns before their CSAT scores are negatively impacted, compared to standard live chat. This means that in a fast-paced CX environment, agents are under significantly less pressure to respond to unreasonable expectations. Effective, up-front expectation setting with the customer is key to delivering a service that the customer values.
Messaging has become the go-to CX channel
Customers want to interact with brands on their own terms and in their own time, which is why messaging is set to become the fastest-growing channel of choice. Delivering seamless interactions is key to retaining customers, especially in competitive industries like telecoms.
Customers also want to find the information and answers by themselves – so make it easier for them. Intelligent automation lets users handle simple, transactional tasks on their own, freeing your associates up to focus on more complex interactions that do need a human touch.
ASM is just one of the trends we’re predicting for communications and media firms. For more on what to expect in 2023, the insights driving these trends, and what it means for your business, read up on our 2023 CX trends predictions.