Last year I was one of a number of experts in the messaging industry to contribute to a Forrester report called ‘The Case for Asynchronous Messaging’. I believe it’s one of the most important pieces of research our market has seen in years.
The findings give a compelling case for why brands need to start piloting conversational experiences on messaging channels. One of the key results confirms something we have believed at Conversocial for some time - consumers love messaging, and in particular private messaging channels, but some brands are lagging behind in adopting them as their premier method for interacting with customers.
Don’t Make Your Customers Find you to Chat - Meet Them Where They are
To quote directly from the report; ‘despite widespread customer adoption, firms struggle to embrace asynchronous messaging.’ In the US, 69% of adults use messaging with friends and family every day, but only 41% do so with brands. Of the brands interviewed for the report, only 19% use asynchronous messaging channels (i.e. Messenger, WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat) to interact with their customers. Nearly double that number still use web or in-app chat (aka synchronous messaging) for customer conversations.
The very nature of asynchronous messaging means it fits in with consumers’ days - they can use a messaging platform at their convenience, rather than being tied to an app or website. One of the report’s recommendations is using ‘one agent desktop tool...that can support myriad chat and asynchronous channels.’
It’s not just enough to interact over messaging channels, brands need a platform that collects the data from every interaction. Meeting the customers where they are isn’t effective unless there’s a system in place which means the entire digital relationship is managed in one single place.
Too Many Brands Don’t Prioritize the Customer’s Experience in Chat and Messaging
Of the 188 B2C brands surveyed in Forrester's report, a large majority still rely on static, self-navigated experiences like apps and website for customer interactions, rather than interactive chats or third-party messaging apps.
The main (perceived) issue that makes them reluctant to invest in asynchronous messaging is a ‘lack of appropriate use cases’ and a belief that existing tech isn’t ready to support it. Only 19% regularly use private messaging platforms for customer interactions, although the vast majority (86%) do it to improve their CX.
What these results highlight is a lack of understanding of the power of asynchronous messaging - the largest reason for the deployment of messaging channels is for customer service. As soon as a conversion begins over messaging, it opens up possibilities for engagement across the lifecycle. Rather than just passive interactions, brands can be proactive with their engagement.
If brands have access to prior conversations and intents, they can use messaging to increase revenue with personalized interactions. Asynchronous messaging isn’t just about scaling conversations to reduce costs, it can also make brands money if done correctly.
Make Transactions More Conversational
The various platforms have differing rules about whether businesses can initiate conversations with their customers - WhatsApp and ABC (Apple Business Chat) have quite strict rules about reaching out for instance. Forrester’s report suggests that as trust grows, brands will soon have permission to engage proactively with push notifications.
As this becomes more commonplace, it’s time for brands to start considering how to utilize asynchronous messaging to trigger processes and transactions under the umbrella of conversational CX. Going beyond reminders or special offers, Forrester is suggesting notifications will initiate conversations.
It’s something that was explored by Assist before we acquired them at Conversocial, when they piloted brew2you with Phillies fans in 2016. Fans could scan a QR code on arrival, order food and drinks and pay for it all within ABC. Transactions like this become straightforward, as easy as messaging a friend at the bar to get an extra drink and open up the possibility of ‘remembering’ customers. If customers regularly visit your place of business, messaging channels learn preferences and quickly serve up ‘the usual’ at the same time or day every week.
It offers proactive engagement, with the possibility of a customer being messaged by their favourite brands, rather than waiting for them to place the order. It’s about recognizing patterns of behavior and anticipating a customer’s needs. CX can become about more than answering queries and start inspiring loyalty through exceptional experiences.
And that’s all from me for the next couple of weeks. As usual, I would love to carry on the conversation at @idohacohen.