How messaging apps will improve customer service

16th Oct 2017

Messaging apps are about much more than sending messages to your friends and family. Combined, the top four messaging platforms have more monthly users than the four most popular social media networks. Where people go, businesses tend to follow, which means the biggest companies in the world are currently pushing to integrate messaging apps into their customer experience. Here’s why the trend is set to change the future of service for the better.

Customer service without limits

eMarketer’s latest forecast estimates that almost 2.4 billion people worldwide now own a smartphone. In the US, 87% of users always have their device by their side and 62% have bought something using their smartphones in the last 12 months. Even when shopping in-store, 90% of shoppers use their phones to search for things like product information, price comparisons and reviews.

Messaging apps provide the perfect opportunity to engage with shoppers who already use their phone throughout every other stage of the purchasing process. People don’t want to change devices, install new apps or switch between channels when contacting companies. As such, mobile apps offer service without limits, allowing customers the convenience to seek answers without the need to make additional calls or website visits.

Using customer service as a distinguishing feature

Businesses that use messaging apps to improve their service can differentiate themselves and gain a competitive advantage. Using Facebook Messenger, some of the biggest companies around have already offered their customers more comprehensive support. Messenger bots have helped KLM’s customers to manage their flights, Uber passengers to hail a ride and hungry Burger King regulars the chance to order ahead.

Today’s customers demand service on their terms and have plenty of opportunities to look elsewhere if their expectations are not met. That’s why companies that find better ways to anticipate and automate their customers’ needs typically increase satisfaction, loyalty and retention rates. In this context, messaging apps offer businesses a channel to deliver highly effective customer service while engaging people in new and exciting ways.

Building better customer relationships

Imagine a customer visits your website. After looking around, they have a query about one of the products or services. Instead of sending an email or making a call, which can take time to receive a response, they initiate a conversation via a messenger app. This subtle shift in customer care increases the possibility of initiating continued interactions.

Unlike the disjoined nature of many other channels, messenger apps help to build an ongoing bond between customers and businesses. Where email conversations start anew with every topic, conversations via messaging apps open an ongoing dialog, making all follow-up exchanges feel easier and more natural.

As more customers engage with brands through messaging apps, service should become a smoother, more personalised experience. Whether the person goes on to make a purchase after initial contact or not, this increases the scope for future selling opportunities as well as the chances of building better customer relationships.

Making it easier for all business to deliver excellent service

Messaging apps powered by chatbots can help customers self-serve, providing a wide range of benefits for businesses of all sizes. For large companies that handle a huge volume of enquiries each day, messaging apps can support overworked agents. For smaller companies, bots and the power of AI provides the capability to deliver a level of service that would have been a lot more expensive only a few years ago. According to Microsoft’s Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report, more than 90% of consumers expect businesses to have a self-service support portal.

Rather than making service agents obsolete, this allows humans to focus on more complex enquiries that machine minds are not yet capable of dealing with. This win-win situation grants customers speedy round-the-clock service, while businesses enjoy reduced pressure and cost-efficiency.

Final thoughts

Messaging apps are revolutionising customer service, and the trend is showing no signs of slowing. When it comes to simple requests, messaging offers customers more of what they want: fast solutions. Adding chatbots into the mix can enhance customer service still further. However, AI-enabled customer service is still not able to deal with more complex customer queries, which is why smart businesses build escalation paths to live assistance into robot-enabled support. 

Ashley Unitt is Chief Scientist at NewVoiceMedia.

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