two women on cellphones
PHOTO: Kevin Grieve

More than 1.5 billion people a month send messages through WhatsApp, and over 1 billion use Facebook Messenger every month. Messaging has quickly become a preferred mode of communication across generations –– and it’s easy to see why. Contrary to live chat, messaging allows customers to communicate with brands on their own schedule and at multiple points during the day. It gives them a conversation transcription to consult in the future, and eliminates the frustrating experience of waiting in a backed-up queue of disgruntled customers.

Perhaps your organization has already started to experiment with messaging, or maybe your organization has asked you to develop the company’s strategy from scratch. As messaging becomes an integral piece of your business’ digital engagement program, here are three pieces of advice for implementing a successful program.

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1. Develop a Plan and Set Clear Goals

While this may sound obvious, the approach for incorporating messaging into digital care isn’t one-size-fits-all. A number of variables such as target location, demographic and company budget will inform what strategy will work best for your business. For example: WeChat is very popular among consumers in China, whereas Viber dominates in Eastern Europe. Depending on where your business’s customers are located, where the business is aiming to grow in the future, and the development of emerging markets, you can adjust which messaging apps are worth the investment.

In addition to developing a specific deployment strategy, you should be intentional about identifying clear success metrics. These indicators can include anything from number of inbound messages received, and average conversation time, to number of unique inquiries and message topic. By measuring the quantity and type of engagements that occur via messaging, it will be easier to demonstrate success and gain executive buy-in for future investment.

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2. Prioritize Agent Training

Once you establish the deployment strategy and success metrics, turn your attention to agent training. Training is critical, as messaging platforms leverage a different employee skill set than what’s traditionally required within the call center. Instead of speaking with one caller at a time, agents will engage multiple customers simultaneously when on messaging platforms.

Remind agents that the quality of their interactions with customers is vital, especially as the volume of inquiries increases. A personal touch can go a long way in providing a digital experience that leaves the customer feeling positive and cared for. Agents should acknowledge customer frustration and use first names throughout the conversation to create a holistic and engaging conversation that ultimately resolves the problem.  

Additionally, customer care professionals need to meet expectations for instant communication. Even though customers may be in and out of communication all day, they expect brands to respond in a timely manner. To streamline agent workflows and ensure quicker response times, different types of technology can help. Emerging technologies such as bots, for example, can automate response messages, take care of routine questions and allow agents to tackle more sophisticated customer requests.  

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3. Develop a Marketing Plan to Spread Awareness

After the messaging strategy is in place, plan how you’ll announce the company’s presence on new platforms. Develop a launch plan that includes website and social media marketing, offering customers a call-to-action to contact you via messaging. Share a set of instructions and suggested questions so customers know what to ask, and what to expect when connecting with you on WhatsApp or Messenger. Armed with the right information on how to utilize messaging, customers are more likely to reach out.  

As digital customer care becomes increasingly vital across industries, it’s imperative your business integrates messaging into its strategy. Remember to tailor your roll-out strategy to unique business goals and define success metrics early on to track the program’s progress. Once the plan is developed, train customer service agents to operate on a new platform, and create a marketing plan to encourage widespread user-adoption. With messaging in your contact center you’ll have more engaged and satisfied customers, the perfect recipe for increased revenue and brand loyalty.