Communication preferences are changing, but businesses aren’t. Research reveals that even though 7 in 10 businesses think they're communicating effectively with customers – only 2 in 10 people agree.
The reality is, there's a major disconnect between the service customers want and the service that brands provide. Bridging the communication gap is critical for a brand's success in 2021.
Mind the gap: businesses call, but people message.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that 9 out of 10 consumers want to message brands.
A messaging app like WhatsApp or Facebook is probably one of the first things you checked this morning. And, it will probably be one of the last things you check before you go to sleep tonight.
The amount of time we spend on mobile messaging apps is on the rise. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Apple iMessage, and others were experiencing strong growth in engagement even before the pandemic.
Now, as users seek alternative ways to communicate with loved ones and businesses, there is an even stronger shift towards messaging apps. 19% of people said they're spending more time on messaging services as a result of the pandemic.
Companies are way behind customers on messaging
Despite the fact that 89% of consumers would like to communicate with businesses on messaging apps, only 48% of businesses have the tools in place to make it happen.
Most businesses continue to reach people over the phone and email. They continue to invest in outdated phone automation, even when the data shows that their customers hate it.
The results aren't good for business. New research from Vonage reveals that more than half (51%) of consumers have abandoned a business altogether because they've reached an automated menu of options.
So, why, then, do we still find ourselves waiting on hold for a painfully long time for something that we should be able to do with a quick message?
The barriers to conversational messaging
Businesses know that opening messaging channels is good for business. More efficient customer service means happier customers — which means more revenue.
But, there is still a fear to add (yet another) means of contact for customers. They fear that they will add to the workload of their already drowning support teams.
The most common barriers to adopting a conversational strategy are:
Fear. Businesses fear that new communication channels will lead to an increase in messaging volume that will be impossible to handle.
Technological barriers. Many businesses have legacy systems in place that they can't do away with. These systems house customer information that's critical to keep things running smoothly.
Complex workflows. At the enterprise level, businesses need to route customers to the right department to get them the help they need. They fear that adopting messaging channels will lead to confusion for their support teams.
These perceived barriers indicate a misunderstanding of where conversational technology stands today. Modern technology is well-equipped to handle each of these challenges.
Conversational apps help brands overcome barriers to change
We're at the point where conversational technology can actually improve most experiences. It is providing businesses with the flexibility and scale they need to meet customer expectations.
Brands can scale with purposeful automation
Businesses that fear the issue of scale are missing one critical detail. With automation, they can handle a large volume of questions without the need for any humans. This is the missing piece that businesses need to embrace a conversational strategy.
For example, our clients usually automate 80% of support tickets. In general, 80% of their support tickets come from predictable interactions.
So, rather than increasing workloads on customer support teams, messaging does the opposite. Messaging effectively reduces ticket volumes across channels.
Legacy systems aren't the issue they once were
Today, APIs (application programming interfaces) make it possible for businesses to adopt new technology without ripping out their old systems.
For example, at Hubtype, our flexible API makes it possible for us to connect to any existing infrastructure. Even companies with older systems are able to use conversational apps to serve customers on messaging.
In short, APIs even the playing field. They make it possible for traditional companies to offer the same innovative service that modern tech startups provide.
There's a simple solution to complex workflows
The secret to bridging the communication gap is to combine automation and humans in a thoughtful way. Conversational platforms make it easy to automate specific parts of the customer journey.
Conversational strategies work best when they are approached as a collaborative effort. When done right, automation frees up your human resources for higher-value work.
A conversational platform will also help aggregate and delegate support tickets. It will help you route customers to the right destination -- no phone automation necessary.
Which companies are bridging the communication gap?
Winning brands are already using conversational apps–and Hubtype is powering them. In fact, since we set out four years ago, we’ve powered conversational apps for Bankia, HP, Massimo Dutti, Levis, Volkswagen, and many others.
Here are just a few examples of how brands gain lifetime value and reduce friction with conversational apps:
- Bankia reported that it has increased its net promoter score to 9.6/10 with the help of our conversational technology. The bank now replies to customers in under two minutes and is seeing a 3x higher engagement on WhatsApp than on other channels. They've also seen an increase in qualified leads.
- Insurance company, Lemonade broke a world record without breaking a sweat. Through its conversational app, one happy customer started and settled a claim within 3 minutes. "While others count the time it takes them to pay claims in days or weeks, we count the milliseconds," says Jim Hageman, Chief Claims Officer.
- For the third year in a row, beauty pioneer Sephora ranked #1 on Sailthru’s Retail Personalization Index. With its conversational app, Sephora makes shopping for beauty and skincare products fun, engaging and intuitive.
These stories are not uncommon. Brands all over the world are discovering that conversational technology is no longer synonymous with chatbots. It's much more powerful than that.
Goodbye, chatbots. We won't miss you.
When we talk about conversational technology, we're not talking about chatbots. The companies truly excelling with conversational strategies use conversational apps.
Conversational technology has evolved way past chatbots. The problem is, there is a lot of confusion about how to refer to these new solutions.
“Brand assistants,” “messaging agents,” “micro apps,” A.I. chatbots”… there are so many terms and definitions are floating around. This only contributes to the confusion.
The reality is, conversational technology isn’t just redefining businesses — it’s disrupting industries. Yet, its technological identity crisis makes it hard for innovation leaders to understand its potential.
So, what are conversational apps?
Conversational apps combine texting with the UX of websites and apps. Interactions with customers include embedded elements that help keep things intuitive. All of this happens without leaving the app.
These rich-media elements include:
- time selectors
Guided flows are incorporated into the UX design of conversational apps. This makes it as easy as possible for a customer to complete a desired transaction or action.
Here's an example of how conversational apps simplify conversations and workflows:
With a conversational app, buttons and images make things much clearer for the customer. It's a sure-fire way to reduce the friction that leads to customer churn and missed opportunities.
What’s stopping you from bridging the communication gap?
Conversational apps are the future. The communication gap we’ve described is only widening as people depend more on digital channels.
It’s time for companies to realize that the barriers to a stellar customer experience are easier to overcome than they think.
Bridging the communication gap doesn’t have to be difficult. Contact Hubtype today to talk about your conversational strategy.