Any single relationship manifests across dozens of mediums. Between iMessage, Skype, FB Messenger, Slack, HipChat, phone, SMS, email, Twitter, Salesforce, Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder, and Google Hangouts — just to name a few — the opportunities for communication are endless. The vast majority of consumers take advantage of these opportunities: we establish relationships with bosses, significant others, family members, and friends that are spread across myriad communication channels, but form, as a whole, a single and continuous relationship. This phenomenon, wherein disparate mediums together form a cohesive connection, is what we call connected conversations.
Consumers have connected conversations in their personal and professional lives, but this ability is lacking when it comes to the relationship between consumers and brands. Even with omni-channel support, on the consumer side every conversation exists in a vacuum — there is no ability to move between mediums while maintaining a continuous conversation.
This is the next frontier for customer service. The industry has always emulated the ways in which consumers interact with one another, and continuous, connected conversations are the logical next step in 2019.
Connected Conversations in Action: What Enabling Continuity Looks Like
Continuous conversations for customer service is not an abstract concept; there are concrete ways in which brands can leverage today’s technology to integrate disparate mediums on the consumer side.
Over the course of the next decade, conversations will become increasingly connected across devices and channels. For now, these are the top three ways in which brands can connect primary communication outlets for their customers.
1. Phone Automation to Messaging
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is one of the most universally despised forms of customer service automation. It’s slow, difficult to understand, and often doesn’t even result in time-savings on the customer or the agent side. Oftentimes, customers are routed to the wrong agent or end up just hanging up out of frustration.
However, with connected conversations, IVR can actually play an important role. Brands can leverage IVR to deflect non-urgent tickets to messaging, which helps customers get a fast and frictionless resolution without waiting on hold. Furthermore, brands can use SMS-to-web deep links to ensure that customers can message without having the app installed, which makes the medium seamlessly available to all customers. This keeps phone communication reserved for high priority escalations, with messaging used for remaining support inquiries.
2. Messaging to Phone Escalation
On the flip side, brands can also integrate phone into messaging for escalation and urgent inquiries. Escalation can occur through bots, which helps expedite the conversation and eliminates the possibility of customers being passed back and forth between agents. When there’s hold time, agents can use a ‘Call customers back’ functionality, which eliminates hold times and reduces friction on both ends.
By integrating the two mediums, brands ensure that customers don’t have to go through laborious processes to escalation. Currently, customers typically have to move from messaging, to Google to get a phone number, to long hold times, only to potentially be told the answer to their question could have been solved easily through a faster medium.
3. Cross-Device Conversations
Enabling continuous conversations doesn’t just mean integrating different channels; it also means integrating different devices. Your customers should be able to move between phone, in-app messaging, web messaging, etc. without re-starting the conversation. One way to enable this is through providing unified conversation histories that include phone conversation transcripts and notes. This allows customers to quickly recall previous phone conversations and pick up where they left off. Agents have had this capability for years through agent notes and unified dashboards; now it’s time to give customers that same functionality.
Start Connecting Your Conversations
Messaging and phone are the two primary modes of communication in customer service today. As you begin to think about integrating the two, consider how messaging can act as a unifier for all communication modes, as well as the opportunities it provides for frustration-free automated workflows. In the same way that omni-channel agent dashboards act as a one-stop shop for notes, conversation histories, and rich customer data, messaging can act as a one-stop shop for consumers to tap back into a brand interaction whenever is most convenient for them.
By establishing messaging as your brand’s core communication channel, you open the door to cross-device and cross-channel continuous conversations without the need to dramatically increase your staffing operations.