The business move towards messaging: More than just an afterthought

Today, messaging has already surpassed email as the most popular digital communication channel. By 2018, 3.6 billion people are set to be using some form of messaging -- that’s 90 per cent of all Internet users.

Last year, Facebook launched the business use of its Messenger platform. Now, with over 800 million active monthly users, it has signalled a calling point for other companies to consider messaging as much more than simply a secondary form of communication.

So with its undeniable growth and popularity, how and why has business messaging become so in demand?

Using messaging to enhance the customer experience

Messaging has completely changed the way that brands interact with their customer base. As people become increasingly demanding of businesses to deliver customer service in a way that is both personalised and convenient, we are moving towards a model of ‘conversational commerce’.

Ultimately, this means completely disregarding the idea that businesses operate in specific silos and simply focusing on providing customers with a seamless experience. Whether engaging with a brand on the phone, on email, or indeed on a messenger platform, customers only care about the end result – receiving a quick and simple solution.

Luckily for businesses, since messaging interactions tend to occur almost instantly and in short bursts, they are able to move quickly from one conversation to the next, all the while keeping it easy to assign, own and progress conversations. As we continue to move away from traditional forms of communication such as email or phone, the need for swift, on-the-spot engagement will only continue to grow in order to retain satisfied customers.

However, it’s not just the customers that can benefit, as messaging provides companies with the ability to widen their reach, not just accessing customers, but having customers access them. As the market becomes more and more saturated, and with businesses’ concerns about attracting and retaining customers growing, messenger platforms are an effective way of connecting people to a business. They make conversations easy to start and have ignited the industry at a time when businesses are competing on a stand-out customer offering more than ever before.

The customer/business relationship is complex, and companies should never be under the impression that their customer service offering is complete. With technology, consumers and the wider industry constantly developing and evolving, it’s essential that the messaging platform businesses are choosing is scalable, with the ability to grow and adapt. The flexibility the service offers will have a significant impact on customer interactions and how businesses stay competitive.

With a challenge to stay relevant, and as messaging continues to thrive, we may soon find ourselves in a position where it affects the way businesses not only interact, but even sell. Businesses can deliver automated customer support, e-commerce guidance, content and interactive experiences through message platforms, all across different devices.

Out with the old, in with the new

When traditional customer service software was developed, the pressures of supporting new and multiple online channels just didn’t exist; the products were never designed to accommodate input from social media or run on mobile devices. Subsequently, many organisations today have to update legacy infrastructure to keep up with the fast development of new channels and devices to stay on top of shifting consumer trends.

The problem is that updating traditional on-site software can be timely and expensive. As a result, many companies are making the move to cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS). Faster and more cost-effective, cloud-based solutions work on a rental basis and are tailored to meet the needs of the multichannel customer.

However, the more customer service channels a company supports, the more challenging it is to effectively track and respond to a high volume of customer inquiries. Every channel has the potential to create confusion so the key to simplifying the process is funnelling interactions from multiple channels into a single place. While requests will arrive in different ways, companies can strive for consistency across channels in terms of response management to meet the individual needs of customers.

It’s safe to say that navigating today’s digital landscape presents numerous challenges. When it comes to delivering a successful customer experience, it’s not just about having a call centre or fax machine, organisations must support a wide variety of channels from email and web to social media and mobile devices. By supporting these channels businesses are better positioned to deliver a memorable customer experience, ultimately keeping customers happy and loyal to a brand. If the last update you made to your customer service strategy was the addition of a ‘support@’ email address, it is probably time to seriously reassess your approach to heighten the customer experience, as the customer has now gained a greater level of power in the business-customer relationship.

Addressing the social boom

This is partly down to the rise of social networks, which has been a key instigator in the evolution of the customer service industry, dramatically changing the dynamics between brand and consumer. No longer are brands sat firmly in the driving seat; the voice of the customer is more powerful than ever. The reach and immediacy of popular channels like Facebook (with 1.55 billion monthly active users) has raised expectations of customer service in terms of a high level of speed, convenience and transparency.

Complaints on social media pose an exponentially greater risk to a company than the traditional customer protest. Considering that 70 per cent of consumers expect a response to social media comment within 15 minutes, time is of the essence. One bad customer experience shared online can escalate quickly into a PR nightmare, proving costly to a brand’s reputation and potentially damaging relationships with existing and future customers.

To avoid these issues, more businesses are turning to digital self-service solutions to help customers help themselves. By empowering the customer to self-serve, and solve their own issues, businesses can decrease the number of tickets and eases pressure on the customer service team.

What matters is that you’re taking care of the customer faster than ever before without having to spend time and resource answering the same customer queries multiple times. Messaging enables you to answer customer queries in a rapid, direct and concise manner, keeping up with the demand of the new age customer, and reaching maximum customer satisfaction.

Daniel Bailey, Director of Northern Europe, Zendesk