It's a full-on blizzard over here in New England so I find myself yet again…
What if I told you there was a new channel you could add to your Customer Service mix that potentially more than half of your customers prefer, has an incredible response rate and also is cheaper per interaction than a phone call? Messaging is that channel – and it’s one of the hottest new channels for Customer Service and the metrics prove why. Just take a look at some of these metrics from various customer service vendors:
- 64% of customers surveyed preferred contacting customer service with a messaging app than a phone call
- Messaging has an 8X better response rate than to Emails
- Responses delivered via Messaging are read an incredible 98% of the time . Not only that, but 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes of delivery (hence the great response rate).
- A Messaging session is between 25% – 50% cheaper than a phone call
- Once Messaging is offered as a channel, within weeks it becomes 15% – 20% of all inbound volume
These are pretty staggering stats. However, when you take a step back and look at them, they make a ton of sense. First, the simple fact that everyone has a smartphone – and it’s typically on them at all times (91% of adults keep their phones within arm’s reach) – explains why the response and read rates are so high. Whether it’s SMS or any of the messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Line, What’s App, WeChat or others, most people are using their smartphones to message (in 2015, 29% of all adults used a Messaging app – other then texting – from their smartphone). Second, Messaging is the natural next step from Chat. Chat always scored high from a customer satisfaction standpoint – live interactions with an agent without the hassle of phone call. The downside of Chat was you usually needed to be online to start a chat session. With Messaging, it’s essentially in your hand so you get all of the benefits of Chat without any of the downside. Finally, it’s tough to deny the generational aspect of this. Younger customers simply don’t use email – or even phones – at the same level as older customers. Texting and messaging is not only preferred but it’s actually what they expect.
When you see these stats it’s no wonder that Salesforce was quick to add Messaging to Service Cloud with their recent launch of LiveMessage. We mentioned Salesforce’s acquisition of Heywire back in our Winter 17 Service Cloud features post and this forms the core of the new LiveMessage product. LiveMessage fits right into the Omni-Channel functionality of Service Cloud and very easily allows you to offer messaging as a new service channel.
There are really three different ways that messaging can be leveraged within Customer Service and we’ll dive into each of them separately. Also, if you want to see these in action, we just completed a webinar where we walk through live demonstrations of all of the use cases below as well as some of the setup of how to deploy them. The recording to the LiveMessage webinar is here.
Conversational Messaging is essentially your standard live customer service experience but with messaging. It’s very similar to a chat session where your agent and the customer are engaged in a conversation to try and resolve the issue. The way this works is pretty nice. First from a texting standpoint, in most cases you can convert the phone numbers you have in place to call support to be able to receive SMS messages (Salesforce will handle this conversion for you as part of their onboarding). There are a few phone carriers out there that do not support this, but the vast majority do. This is super convenient for your customers – one phone number to either call in or to send in an SMS. Again, it’s about giving your customers options and this is a great way to do it.
With Facebook Messenger, you need to setup your company Facebook page with LiveMessage. Then from your customer’s Facebook account they can use Facebook Messenger to send a message to you. Salesforce has already announced a roadmap for additional messaging apps (with their safe harbor of course) and here’s what is coming: Line in Summer 17 and then What’s App and WeChat will be next but without a committed date. The setup for each of these will differ, but at the end of the day customer’s will be able to message you from there to initiate a session.
Once that message is sent to you, the experience from there is mostly the same. You can leverage Omni-Channel or just use the LiveMessage app stand-alone (similar to how Live Agent is stand-alone or in Omni-Channel) to route the message to an available agent. The message then pops in the Service Console as a new tab with a conversation window to the left – again, very similar to how Live Agent works. From the conversation window your agent can carry on the conversation with your customer while they are using their messaging app or SMS messenger from their phone. Your customers can send pictures as well as animated gifs – video isn’t supported yet, but they can send a link to a video that your agent can then open.
As far as how to optimize your agent’s productivity, messaging is a similar experience to Chat, but with some added bonuses. Agents can take up to seven messaging Cases at a time and LiveMessage has visual indicators like critical wait alerts and message alerting to help an agent know when they need to jump to a particular conversation. This is a big cost savings. Obviously your agent can only take one phone call at a time, but if you can get them to handle five or more messaging conversations at a time, you’re really optimizing your productivity. In addition, with Omni-Channel you can have the same agents that are handling chats also handle messages. You don’t need another dedicated team to handle these – just add messaging as an additional option and funnel them into the same team that is chatting today. One big draw-back of Chat is that a lot of Chats go stale and the agent is essentially in a dead chat for up to five or more minutes (whatever your policy is) before they kill the chat. The big reason for that is most consumers are multi-tasking when they are doing chat and they forget they have a chat window open. Then once they remember they launch a new session, so you’re losing some productivity re-starting the chat as well as the dead air time of your agent waiting to confirm they are gone. With messaging this doesn’t seem to happen as often. Back to the stat about how most users read a chat within three minutes of receiving it – it’s simply not a medium that easily slips into the background and is forgotten. Finally, just like all of the channels in Omni-Channel, from the messaging window agents can link the conversation to a Case or other objects and can automatically pop a new Case screen or other screens as needed when the message is assigned and received. The conversations are saved in either Activities or Events.
Today, when you need to send an alert to someone – whether it’s about a Case Status change, or a new Comment added to their Case or even if it’s an update on their Order – email is basically your first and only option. With LiveMessage, we can change that and add SMS messaging into the mix of how to send alerts (Facebook does not allow an outbound message to launch a session today). There is a ton of potential here to really impact customer satisfaction but also the volume of interactions coming into your service center. What percentage of your calls are customers calling in simply to ask about the status of their Case or their Order? Even if you’re doing the right thing and trying to proactively notify your customers of their status changes, the average email open rate is between 25% – 34%. Granted, that metric is mostly based on Marketing statistics, so it’s probably higher for your own customers as they recognize you, but even doubling that it’s 50% – 60%. As I mentioned above, the average read rate for SMS messaging is 98%! No other medium can touch that outside of personally outbound calling for each status change and leaving voicemails – but that would be prohibitively expensive. The potential for case deflection and cost savings is massive here.
So, how do you do it? It’s actually super easy. Similar to how you use Workflow for Email Alerts – or maybe in some more complex instances you need to build an Apex trigger, with LiveMessage you’re primarily using Process Builder to build out the automation. For batch jobs or really complex situations you can still fall back to Apex, but Process Builder will handle most of the situations easily. Easiest example is a Case Status update. Your agent is working on a Case that came in via Email and there’s not enough information in the Case for the agent to resolve it. Set the Case Status to Waiting for Customer with an explanation of why and then fire off a text message to the customer notifying them of this. The response time for that notification will be faster than with email (your customers are certainly not reading 90% of their emails within 3 minutes) and they can reply via a message back or with a little Process Builder work they can launch a conversational message session right from the text. In the example below, the customer replied with “Agent” and that automatically kicks off a conversational message session. Below the Case example, we have an example of how you could automate an order notification. In this example, the customer’s order has shipped and not only do we notify them but we gave them a tracking number and a link to get to the tracking information. Now they can keep checking the order to see where it’s at – without having to call you.
Service Cloud Bots
The last use case is really an expansion of the automated messaging use case. Instead of just having a push notification going to the customer, what if you could have a conversation, where you can actually collect data and write back to the Case and solve the issue without ever needing an agent? All you need to do is build a bot or use a 3rd party bot and you can have agentless conversations. A great example of this is if you want to cancel an order. You could send a text to your telephone number which then responds asking what would you like to do? Maybe there are four options and all the customer needs to do is reply with “Cancel Order” to go down the flow to allow them to cancel an order. First question would be asking for the order number. The customer responds with it and you then perform a check to make sure the cell phone number is associated to that number. If so, you respond with asking why it’s being cancelled (if not, you can send them a message stating that this number is not linked to the order, please type “Agent” to speak to an agent). Once they reply with the reason you can prompt them with an “are you sure?” and when they respond with “Cancel” the bot will update the Order record in Salesforce – cancelling it and adding in the reason code. You’ve now just guided a customer through a flow without ever needing an agent – and the customer accomplished exactly what they needed. Must be complicated to build though right? Nope – it’s just an expansion of the automated message process leveraging Process Builder. Granted, these are bigger process flows with potentially more decision trees, but all doable with standard Salesforce.
In summary, messaging as a channel offers a lot of unique opportunities that other channels do not. If you manage a call center it is worth your time to step back and look at your interactions and see where messaging may be a good fit. Where it might be able to assist with deflection and where the conversational approach may be a good option for your customers. Messaging shouldn’t replace your other channels – but it’s definitely something that should be added to your channel mix. Give your customers an additional way to reach you or resolve their issues on their own – with a channel that increasingly is becoming the method of choice for a lot of users. Again, if you want to see this in action, check out our LiveMessage webinar recording, and if you’d like to speak to us about how LiveMessage could help you, we’re happy to discuss.