How Companies Bridge the Communication Gap with Customers

October 30, 2019 (Updated)

Chatbots, Conversational Messaging

A messaging app, like WhatsApp, may well have been one of the first things you checked this morning–and may very well be one of the last things you use before you go to sleep tonight.

We spend more than 3 hours a day communicating on messaging apps: sharing photos, voice notes, documents and live locations. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, because you’re doing it too.

Companies are way behind customers on messaging

Your customers are trying to engage with you, but not in the way that many brands might like to think. 91% of your customers’ time on mobile and desktop devices is spent on messaging apps. Word of mouth referrals happen there, recommendations, link sharing to ecommerce sites and more. Companies are way behind customers on messaging, creating a communication gap that results in customer frustration and missed revenue opportunity.

The barriers to conversational messaging

Well more than half of us would rather message a brand than call customer service, but very few companies actually offer messaging as a communication channel.

According to an Oracle survey from 2016, 80% of businesses wanted chatbots by 2020–and we have a quarter left to arrive there. Why, then, do we still find ourselves waiting on hold for a painfully long time to accomplish something that we should be able to do with a quick message?

Customer service teams are already overwhelmed with existing email and phone channels, which are difficult to manage, have a high cost to serve and in the instance of email, take longer than most channels to reach a resolution. Despite knowing that opening messaging channels is inevitable, and leads to increased revenue and customer satisfaction, there is still a fear to add another yet another means of contact for customers because of its low friction and potential to oversaturate their already drowning support teams. 

Many businesses assume that opening messaging channels will open the floodgates to an overwhelming volume of messages from customers. What they’re missing is that in fact, with automation, the ability to resolve customers’ problems without any human intervention at all is in our hands–and this is the hidden power of messaging that companies are missing in their avoidance of embracing the channel.

At Hubtype, we believe in the power of bots–but in combination with human agents and great conversational design. Having a human available so that more complex customer queries can be escalated to a real person is key. However, up to 80% of frequently asked questions and queries can be automated. This means automation on messaging channels can effectively reduce ticket volume across all channels.

The secret to effectively scaling messaging channels is to combine automation and humans in a thoughtful way. The precision, power and efficiency of bots and (optionally) AI seamlessly complement the authenticity and service of humans. This makes it possible to use bots to get quick answers and repetitive queries solved in record time and still provide great service to the remaining 20%, while increasing customer satisfaction scores. Notably, as well as pleasing your customers, your human staff enjoy less repetition in their roles and an increased focus on more interesting cases.

Which companies are rocking conversational messaging?

Winning brands are already lowering friction, increasing customer satisfaction, decreasing costs and gaining lifetime value from their customers by serving them with conversational apps–and Hubtype is powering them. In fact, since we set out three years ago, we’ve powered conversational apps for Bankia, HP, Massimo Dutti, Volkswagen and many others.

These stories are not outliers: we’ve seen similar results with our customers, and once the channel is launched, customers tend to consolidate to a single channel, too, thus eliminating duplicate queries on unique channels. We’re all familiar with the time we try to message a company on Messenger, get sent to email, wait days for a reply and eventually call them–three tickets for one query. Messaging eliminates this and customers prefer it.

Goodbye chatbots. Hello conversational apps.

When we talk about automation, we’re not just talking about chatbots. The companies truly excelling with conversational strategies use conversational apps.

Conversational apps maintain the personal and conversational style of text-based interfaces but combine elements of graphic interfaces like websites and apps. This allows interactions with customers to include embedded elements such as attachments, carousels, calendars, time selectors, buttons and other rich media which facilitates a wide variety of transactions without leaving the app.

Guided flows, which are incorporated into the UX design of conversational apps, make it as easy as possible for a customer to complete a desired transaction or action. Because of this, conversational apps significantly reduce the time it takes to complete a goal, as well as increase the chances of a customer completing a goal. Rich elements help to reduce the number of options which makes it even easier to arrive at a desired goal.

For example, when booking a flight with a text-based chatbot, the user is required to type each phrase requesting the flight, as well as the date and time they want. This process becomes laborious and opens the potential for misunderstandings to occur, which leads to unhappy customers.

With a conversational app, a customer can click a button to “Book a flight”, and choose an available date and time from an embedded calendar and time selector. Conversational apps of this nature save time, increase the number of conversions and improve the overall customer experience.

How long until your business catches up?

Conversational apps are the future. Although customers depend on messaging, brands are still using email, SMS and phone as communication channels. This communication gap is only widening as more people move from the web to chat.

Companies are hesitant to open channels with low barrier to entry without automation and bots. However, consumers still reject the often unnatural experience bots provide. Conversational apps combine automation, graphic interfaces and human agents. The result is a customer experience that goes beyond chatbots in a customer-centric way.

It’s time for companies to get out of the dinosaur age and embrace the significant benefits messaging will actually give them after their learning curve.

Are you ready to bridge the communication gap between you and your customers? Contact Hubtype today to talk about your conversational app strategy.

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