Get your contact center future ready

Learn how digital messaging channels have evolved into a contact center must-have as part of serving the customer of today and tomorrow

Written by Sam Watson on

For nearly every customer service leader, the last 14 months have been a rollercoaster.

They’ve had to quickly adapt to the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, with consumers and businesses forced into digital experiences at an unprecedented rate. There have been challenges with enabling remote working, a rising number of inquiries, and maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction.

As part of solving these challenges, many businesses have begun to use new third-party messaging channels to conduct customer service and care interactions. In a recent Forrester survey, 21% of businesses admitted to piloting WhatsApp, and 18% claimed to be testing the use of Apple Business Chat. These messaging channels are helping to reduce call volumes and wait times while offering customers a choice in how they want to engage.

But, these numbers aren’t high enough considering the upside these two-way, digital channels offer to improving customer service operations. More customer service leaders should be taking the lead on integrating third-party messaging platforms to meet the needs and exceed the expectations of increasingly digital consumers.

In this blog, we’re going to take a look at how third-party messaging channels have evolved from nice-to-have to need-to-have in contact centers.

Connecting with the customers of today and tomorrow

Forrester’s ‘Use Popular Third-Party Messaging Platforms For Customer Service’ report details the growth in daily messaging use across the different age generations - the results are exactly what you would expect.

Just 16% of the baby boomer generation (1946 - 1964) and 26% of generation X (1965 - 1980) admit to using messaging or chat daily. This number jumps to 35% for the millennial generation (1981 - 1996) and generation Z (1997 - 2012). Based on these numbers, we can predict that generation alpha, those born after 2012, will grow up using messaging even more every day.

Already we are seeing research produce insights that confirm consumer preference for messaging - 75% of consumers favor the use of messaging for customer service and 59% want to use messaging to make purchases. As part of improving the CX experience, brands need to meet customers where they are - and that is increasingly in their messaging inbox.

A new generation of rich messaging channels

Gartner predicts that 80% of customer service organizations will have abandoned native mobile apps in favor of messaging for a better customer experience by 2025. Driving this trend forward are the big tech players like Google, Apple, Facebook, who are all invested in developing their messaging ecosystems.

While their channels all contain features that enhance interactions - like buttons, quick replies, and rich media - what’s really important for the contact center is that they are integrated into the mobile device operating system. With Apple Business Chat, if a user clicks to call they will be prompted with a message to chat instead, or with Google’s Business Messages a user can search for a business through Maps, find their profile, and tap a button to instantly begin messaging. From there, they can solve their inquiry through a chatbot or live agent chat - no call required.

The benefits of integrating digital messaging into the contact center

Offering customer choice: The first clear benefit of integrating third-party messaging platforms into the contact center is offering choice to customers. They can use channels that they communicate with friends and family every day to engage with a business. Which one they choose is up to them based on their preferences.

Reduce inbound call volumes: As part of their offering, digital messaging channels make it as easy as possible for customers to find a business and start messaging. With more customers choosing to message first, call volumes during peak and off-peak hours will drop. Once a customer has solved one problem through a messaging channel, they can send another message at any time to begin the process again.

Improve call wait times: Nothing is more frustrating than waiting on hold for a significant amount of time. Through IVR call deflection, callers who have a certain type of inquiry can be offered to transfer to a messaging channel of their choice for speedy resolution. In addition, with fewer calls being made into the contact center, call wait times will naturally be reduced.

Reduce cost to serve: Voice is an expensive channel and should be used for complex and high-value queries. By leading with cost-efficient messaging channels for managing more customer service interactions, contact centers will reduce operational costs.

Increase automation: Digital messaging channels are perfect platforms for driving automation through advances in AI and NLP technology. Chatbots can act as a 24/7 knowledge base for customers, solving multiple types of queries without an agent's assistance. Conversations can be elevated to a call or video chat as needed.

How to get started and pick the right solution provider

Google, Apple, and Facebook all work with solution providers as part of various partner programs to help get brands to market.

 These solution providers will help brands to manage the process of registration, setting up their profile, and getting use case approval. They not only give you access to the channel through an API, but also, own the AI and customer journey capabilities to help build the experience a brand wants to deliver.

Some solution providers, like imimobile, can offer more and help to tackle the challenges of an increasingly complex communications landscape.

Every channel has its own features, policies, geographies where it’s available, rules of gaining customer opt-in, and best practices – and some solution providers are integrating the management of these as part of their offering. They provide a solution where a brand can manage all their customer interactions over every channel through one platform. This solves the challenge of channel fragmentation, complex customer journey orchestration, and using data from across the business to contextualize interactions.

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

For more information on how customer service organizations are adapting to increasingly connected consumers who want to engage with brands through their favorite channels, download Forrester’s Third-Party Messaging Platform for Customer Service Report.