Looking for Customer Messaging Software? Make Sure It’s Asynchronous

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Messaging software for customer service (CS) is becoming increasingly popular. But when CS leaders look to the internet for ways to modernize their support organization through messaging, what they find are countless results that either focus on marketing messaging or customer messaging software that lacks a modern support focus.

In this post, we clarify the differences in customer messaging software, with a particular focus on optimizing customer service for the modern consumer by offering an asynchronous messaging experience.

Modern customer service messaging is asynchronous

There are basically two types of messaging, synchronous and asynchronous. Asynchronous messaging enables the customer and CS agent to communicate, even if they are not available at the same time. You have likely experienced asynchronous messaging when using popular messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

By contrast, Live chat is synchronous, forcing the customer to always remain actively available in order to progress a conversation with an agent. If the customer accidentally closes out a chat or leaves their screen for several minutes, their session is terminated and the entire conversation history is lost. This forces the customer to restart the conversation from point zero – frustrating!

That’s a stark difference from async-enabled messaging (as we like to refer to asynchronous messaging). With async-enabled messaging, customers can leave a chat window for hours and rejoin the conversation with any agent who is available to carry it forward. Also, if an agent responds while the customer is away, the customer simply receives a notification that a response is waiting and picks up the conversation from there.

Operationally, live chat is far more costly than async-enabled messaging. Since live chat agents are tethered to approximately two conversations at a time, a CS team cannot scale in the same way as they can with the flexibility of an asynchronous approach. Async-enabled messaging is easy to scale, as we discuss in the next section.

Benefits of async-enabled messaging in customer messaging software

To gain perspective on the benefits of async-enabled messaging, you should recognize that only 38% of consumers actually want to talk with a human when engaging a brand.[i] With that statistic in mind, it’s easy to see how the time has come to gain speed and scale in customer messaging software through the use of automation and bots. The use of these modern, yet proven, technologies lets a CS team scale far beyond the rates of live chat-based customer messaging software. This happens in two ways.

First, you can optimize operations through segmentation. Because you understand your customers and their needs, you can segment them based on the urgency and priority of their issues. For the segment of customer issues that are not urgent, async-enabled messaging can be used. A retailer, for example, may auto-escalate to a live agent those customers having issues at checkout since immediate revenue is on the line. Meanwhile, customers with general inquiries can enjoy an async-enabled discussion with a chatbot that suggests relevant knowledge articles or points to other helpful content. Because these bots are typically deterministic (not dependent on advanced AI or lengthy rules), they can also be easily formatted to collect information and lead customers down predefined workflows – automating and speeding their customer support journey.

Async-enabled messaging also makes 24/7 support more effective, without raising your costs. That’s because you can staff a small number of off-hour live agents to manage the urgent cases, mixing in automation and bot capabilities to manage the majority of requests.

The big takeaway here: with so many consumers preferring self-service and bot-delivered service, async-enabled messaging provides the user experience people want, but at a much lower cost than live chat-driven customer messaging software.

The many ways you can deliver a messaging experience

Consumers love having access to customer service messaging in the channels they use – social media, inside their mobile apps, on websites, etc. Customer messaging software takes a giant leap forward when it provides async-enabled messaging across all channels. Think about it: Facebook Messenger is available far beyond the Facebook app, so customers can access the same conversation from whatever browser (web or mobile) they’re currently using. The history and context is always there, and brands should be offering that same experience.

And when bots are integrated within an async-enabled messaging environment, they augment the work of agents by providing information to the agent about the customer’s issue in an easy-to-read conversation window. The agent is caught up immediately and can efficiently solve the customer’s problem.

With messaging, the agent can also progress the communication in any manner they see fit. For instance, the agent can invoke bots mid-conversation in order to complete easily automated actions, such as scheduling a delivery or changing a password.

Asynchronous messaging elevates the value of customer messaging software

Customer messaging software should be about customer service, first and foremost. If your brand is not communicating with customers when and how they want, in the channels they want, CSAT and revenue will suffer. On the other hand, when you can connect with customers across any channel and deliver over-the-top customer service the way they want it, you will build customer loyalty and grow your revenue – while gaining operational efficiency.

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Published October 18, 2019
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