5 tips for customer service leaders – how to pursue an agile approach to adopting digital messaging channels

With digital messaging channels helping to reduce contact center wait times and increase customer satisfaction. How can customer service leaders pursue an agile appaorach to channel adoption?

Written by Sam Watson on

With fewer staff and more inbound calls than ever, wait times for contact centers spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic. This meant many customers turned to digital messaging channels to get in touch with businesses to gain information, solve problems, and manage services.

With convenience at the top of the consumer agenda, the pressure is now on for organizations with customer service operations to meet customers on the communication channels they prefer – while continuing to deliver the highest levels of service.

That’s not to say it’s all about the customer. Service leaders who support a range of digital messaging channels benefit from a higher take-up of self-serve options, resulting in fewer calls into the contact center and a reduction in cost-to-serve. But, in the fragmented world of digital messaging, how can businesses deliver great service across every channel? And how can they future-proof their customer service strategy to ensure that a new channel — or evolving consumer behavior — doesn’t leave them at risk of lower customer satisfaction scores?

5 tips on how to pursue an agile approach to adopting digital messaging channels

A recent Forrester report explores how businesses can transform their approach to customer service through digital messaging channels. Read on for five insights from the report on how to start improving your service to address what customers want:

Prioritize where your customers use communication 

There are two factors to consider in prioritizing the next step in the journey to digital messaging transformation. First, know which channels your customers are using. While only 16% of the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation (1946-1964) use messaging apps daily, this rises to 35% for ‘Generation Z’ (Born 1997 or later). It’s essential for businesses to understand how comfortable their customer demographic is with using these platforms, otherwise, you could risk investing valuable resources into underused channels.

The second factor is understanding whether your brand has permission to use that messaging channel, and on what terms. For example, Apple Business Chat is designed for customer care and can’t be used for promotional messaging. WhatsApp requires that a business must be able to respond to a customer within 24 hours, and must ensure that customers know exactly what they are opting in for when they engage with your business in their channel.

Tap into case studies and help from a third-party platform partner

Apple, Facebook, and Google are investing heavily in developing messaging ecosystems and partner programs to help businesses hit the ground running with their channels.

These partner resources range from annual developer conferences to powerful developer tools — and all of them can help support buy-in across the business. Case studies from the messaging channels, sharing the learnings of businesses within the same sector can also help contact center leaders discover new use cases for their own organizations.

Working with a platform partner will ensure a smooth path for registering your business on a digital channel, getting a profile set up, and in facilitating the approval of the use case by the channel owner.

Start with small use cases and engagement

Adopting new, more agile approaches to digital messaging can be daunting. Starting small and adopting a build, measure, learn mindset can help your brand avoid any big mistakes, find quick wins, and move forward with confidence.

Following this use case approach will help to ensure the digital messaging channel is focused on solving customer problems, and not just transferring inquiry volume from voice channels to prove channel viability.

For example, if you’re introducing a chatbot option to a customer journey, set clear expectations about what it’s going to deliver to your customers, and make sure that you can transfer customers to an agent if necessary.

Staff your digital channels with digital natives

The digital voice of a business is amplified with every tiny interaction. By hiring digital natives into customer service agent roles, you’ll be set up to deliver a conversational experience to your customers that feels natural. They will be able to speak digital, use emojis, embed links, and pull things from different places into one helpful message to the customer.

You’ll also be tapping into this group’s intuitive ability to onboard with new tools for digital channels quickly. By staffing messaging channels with digital natives, you can increase customer satisfaction scores on these channels, and close more queries on first contact.

Continue to watch for unique messaging options on social media networks

Many social channels, such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, offer direct messaging between businesses and consumers. Direct messaging is less frequently used on broader social media channels than on dedicated messaging channels like WhatsApp, but these platforms offer opportunities to engage consumers at the exploratory stages of the sales cycle.

The challenge remains for enterprises to find ways to route inbound communications and leads from all social and messaging channels seamlessly to the department that will best serve the current stage of the customer’s journey. Partnering with a solution provider that integrates customer interactions through a central platform can help here. But you’ll also need to consider how your organization’s processes can contribute to getting the right messages to the right teams.

Meet your customers where they already are

Great customer service isn’t just based on your phone lines anymore — it’s about how you manage a multi-channel approach through social media, apps, messages, and more. But if there’s one thing we can count on, it’s that consumer messaging behavior will continue to evolve and the opportunity for businesses to engage and serve on these channels will continue to grow. Customer service teams will need to stay agile to how they interact with customers, adopting new digital and social messaging channels as they emerge.

For customer service leaders that want to move quickly, they should look to work with a digital messaging solutions provider that helps to get their use case live and manage all channels through a central platform. This will help to bring all customer interactions under a single pane of glass, allowing for a contextual and consistent experience to be delivered across all channels.

For more insights, download Forrester’s Third-Party Messaging Platforms for Customer Service Report

For more information on how customer service leaders can pursue an agile approach to adopting digital messaging channels, download Forrester’s Third-Party Messaging Platforms for Customer Service Report.