Every customer at some point has received promotional messages and calls from brands multiple times a day without any context. It’s natural that customers ignore these messages, delete or even block them without reading them at all. It’s also possibly true that customers have stopped shopping from particular brands because of such communication. Businesses are facing a reality where 94 percent of Indian customers have changed stores, brands or the way they shop over the last year. This ‘spray-and-pray’ strategy is not working and brands need to find better, more effective ways of deepening their customer relationships.
Customers want to be understood. They expect brands to make the entire process — from buying to customer service — simple and easy. This is where messaging can make a huge difference to the quality of customer experience. Messaging is how we share news, collaborate with colleagues, and keep in touch with friends and family. The rapid digital adoption in India during the pandemic only showed the world that messaging was made for customer service.
Take the case of online festive season sales on e-commerce platforms, where ticket volumes increase significantly. Businesses need to be on top of their game and resolve issues quickly and efficiently. Messaging as a platform can make a massive difference in such scenarios. Messaging is fast, convenient and scalable. Customers can talk to brands at their own pace, and resolve issues just by texting instead of waiting long minutes.
So, what can Indian brands do to deliver great conversational experiences?
A single source of truth for better CX
Siloed conversations across websites, mobile apps and social media channels make for a very confusing experience — both for agents and customers. Without a single view of the customer conversation, customer engagement teams are missing valuable context at every touch point. This is why CX Champions — organizations with high CX maturity — are 2.5 times more likely to have multiple support channels compared to Starters, organizations with low CX maturity.
Let’s look at the case of PayNearby: India’s largest hyperlocal fintech platform. Its customers include kirana stores, microfinancing and credit agencies, food ordering and delivery services and businesses in rural areas unable to get to the bank on time. PayNearby built its success with a dual support model, serving retailers on one hand and its field staff on the other. But it had six different support teams, which were struggling to scale and collaborate. Two years ago, the company introduced support via WhatsApp with a single unified view for support agents. The context helped agents resolve issues faster, resolving challenges to accountability.
PayNearby unified messaging from every channel into one continuous conversation, resulting in flexibility to create messaging experiences that scale. The results: Increased engagement, higher customer satisfaction, and a conversational relationship with each customer.
Embed modern messaging into website, apps
We live in the age of social media — where customers spend quite a bit of time everyday, making them expect the same rich messaging experiences on websites and apps that brands offer. Customers want brands of their choice to have messaging options on websites and apps that deliver a persistent, asynchronous conversation that goes beyond texting. This includes read receipts, typing indicators, and rich content types such as GIFs, quick replies and location sharing. For instance, a customer shopping for clothes from an app would expect to resolve issues via in-app messaging. Being able to send pictures if the purchased article is damaged and links to order histories makes troubleshooting easier for both agents and customers.
Help customers take action within conversations
Most customers have at some point wondered if session-based chats with brands could go beyond getting answers to basic inquiries in-the-moment. Customers today look for chat experiences that allow them to self-serve while doing more across the entire customer lifecycle. For example, during the festive season like Diwali, Christmas or New Year, customers are bound to shop a lot more than usual. When brands create experiences where customers can view personalized products and accessory recommendations while completing their purchase inside a single conversation, it deepens loyalty. Gone are the days of transactional messaging. This is why 77 percent of Indian enterprises are most likely to make customer service more conversational, according to Zendesk. It makes the customer journey easy and seamless, while also driving revenue.
Integrate chatbots, AI for self-service at scale
As messaging becomes increasingly popular, businesses need to leverage conversational AI for customer service. That means understanding how conversational artificial intelligence (AI) benefits customers and agents, when to use it, and how to best optimize it. Without AI and chatbots, companies are missing out on the chance to automate low complexity tasks, drive down operational costs, and let agents focus on the human-to-human conversations.
For instance, financial services providers can integrate chatbots into their websites and apps that help customers perform routine tasks such as verifying their account balances, making payments and transferring money. The right tech stacks enable businesses to leverage third-party data, to put conversations into context and deliver self-service at scale.
As brands consider investing in chatbots, automation, and multi-department messaging infrastructure, it’s also equally important to ensure they have adequate resourcing and planning to seamlessly manage customer conversations across departments and channels. To do so, businesses will need to find a way to centrally define rules of engagement, and streamline handoffs between teams and automation across systems for a more streamlined customer experience.
Building loyalty begins with connection, and messaging apps allow you to do exactly that – by showing customers what your brand cares about and why they should care too.
(The author Vasudeva Rao Munnaluri, Regional Vice President India & SAARC and the views expressed in this article are his own)