Article

Building stronger customer relationships with messaging

We’re excited to introduce Zendesk messaging for web and mobile — bringing rich, modern and automated conversational experiences to your own properties.

By Jesse Martin, Content Marketing Associate

Published November 10, 2020
Last updated November 12, 2020

Messaging is everything right now. Our world is threaded together by conversations that happen on the apps we use every day. It’s no wonder we've seen a 50% surge in messaging-based support tickets over the past eight months.

But while social messaging channels like WhatsApp have gotten much of the attention recently, customers and businesses have been chatting with each other for a long time. Once the new kid on the block, live chat is now a familiar customer service channel. Folks who don’t want to talk on the phone or wait all day for an email can chat with a customer service rep in the same way they might chat online with a friend. It has worked out great for businesses, too: Their customers get help in real time, in the context of their website instead of being forced to poke around for an email address, a phone number, or a web form.

That’s why we’re excited to bring the modern messaging experience your customers know and love to your business’ own web and mobile properties.

Think of this as live chat for the messaging age.

The #1 way customers prefer to message a company is via the company's own site or app

(Zendesk Benchmark)

Messaging is easier for customers

Customers don’t have to repeat themselves

While live chat is a great solution if an issue needs to get resolved then and there, one of its limitations is that it’s limited to sessions: As soon as a chat ends, the conversation history disappears into the ether. Everyone knows what it’s like to wait in a queue, only to have the wifi bug out, a tab shut accidentally, or a distraction whisk you away. To get going again, customers have to start from the top, repeating themselves and wasting time.

69% of US online adults use messaging to contact customer service

Source: State of Messaging 2020

Messaging lets people chat back and forth without losing the conversation history and its context. This way, customers don’t have to repeat themselves, and agents get the context they need to address the issue and personalize the interaction. It’s no wonder messaging has the highest CSAT of any channel, quicker resolution, and wide adoption by brands people love.

Messaging is more engaging and interactive

Social messaging apps like WhatsApp, iMessage, and Facebook Messenger have spoiled people with rich features: Quick replies, auto responses, carousels, typing indicators and read receipts make it easier for companies who use messaging to understand and anticipate customers’ needs.

These are the sorts of conversational experiences your customers have come to expect. By embedding messaging into your own websites and mobile apps, customers are treated to an experience akin to chatting with friends, family, and colleagues. Doesn’t that sound more comfortable?

Messaging makes support teams more efficient

Let’s add a touch of realism here: While customers love being able to chat with companies, it’s probably not the only way they’re keeping in touch. With legacy channels like email and phone, or newer social channels, it may seem like support agents already have too much on their plates. Not so!

Throwing messaging into the mix, especially when it can be managed alongside conversations from other channels, actually reduces friction. Agents can multitask, work asynchronously, and keep multiple conversations afloat — without the pressure of balancing multiple live conversations.

When agents have all the context they need at their fingertips, they can deliver the best customer experience possible. Instead of managing each channel in a silo, or forgoing certain channels altogether, agents can be allocated where needed to manage and track conversations.

Capturing customer context doesn't have to be hard. All the information can be captured before the conversation even starts — with the help of a little automation. Messaging makes it possible for brands to automate routine interactions to save time and collect data. Features like embedded forms that allow for important data to be captured before anything is escalated to an agent.

Context is critical to a successful interaction and a satisfied customer. In a modern agent workspace, data like the customer’s name and contact info, as well as their interaction history is visible to agents and accessible to team members. This frees agents from asking routing questions, allowing them to think critically about the stuff that’s actually important, and focus on more complex queries.

Messaging is easy to implement, customize, and scale

70% of customer interactions will involve emerging technologies such as machine learning, chatbots, and mobile messaging by 2022

Source: State of Messaging 2020

When a customer needs help outside of regular business hours, or has a question that can be resolved quickly, a bot is the first point of contact in the conversation. A bot can take down the customer’s info so the business can follow up later, or guide the customer through self-service. An agent doesn’t necessarily need to be present to answer questions like “what are your store hours?” or “what’s your address?”, but it’s a best practice to give customers the option of chatting with a person if they really need to.

Bots are better

  1. They save time

    Bots save time for agents and customers by collecting information before escalating. Capturing data, like names and contact information, means the agent can add personal touches, while additional context can help them get to the root of the issue sooner.

  2. They help teams scale and reduce costs

    42 percent of customer service leaders expect requests to grow, but they can’t always expand headcount. Deflecting one-touch requests, routing queries to the appropriate agent, and responding to customers outside of business hours are all jobs a bot can do well. Let agents be agents.

  3. They create personalized conversational experiences

    Bots help you meet the customer where they are, and where they need you to be. They don’t need time off to help customers navigate self-service, intake data, answer FAQs, or even learn on their own.

    But if a bot isn’t what your customer needs, they should be able to speak to a person. A bot shouldn’t be a blocker — it should be built for the occasion.

From an operational perspective, chatbots might seem a bit scary. Historically, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decision trees haven’t had the most accessible fields for somebody setting up a support solution — but that’s changing.

There are different kinds of chatbots. Simple bots can be built by basically anyone with click-to-configure decision trees. They work out-of-the-box, no coding needed, and are a great time saver for support teams. For less complex needs, a business shouldn’t need to involve a third party to build out a straightforward experience.

Businesses should customize the experience. Both to their own needs, and for their customers. When things get complicated, an integrated messaging platform can help.

Messaging is a platform with endless customizable options

One of the most exciting aspects of messaging is how flexible it is. When you need a sophisticated chatbot — for complex use cases that require integrations, and dealing with more complex queries, working with a partner is the way to go.

Zendesk works with numerous partners to create myriad chatbots and helpdesk integrations because customer experience isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of situation. A conversational agent workspace is cool, but the needs of online retailers are pretty different from the needs of hospitality. The local library doesn’t need the same integrations as a global appliance manufacturer — but anything is possible.

How to customize an out-of-the-box messaging experience

Third party integrations Advanced use cases like processing payments, marketing tools, and e-commerce solutions
Messaging bot partners Build a custom bot, or work with one of Zendesk’s partners to make a bot as unique as you are
Proactive messaging Proactively reach out to customers with outbound notifications, send shipping confirmations, booking reminders, and updates
Group messaging Group chats aren’t just for your besties — businesses can use them to connect the most important players (customers, agents, drivers, delivery folk — you name it) to get the job done

Behind the scenes, the ability to integrate internal tools and new technologies helps customers do more when they interact with businesses. Working with customer data, following up on a different channel, and creating customized conversational experiences keep the customer at the center of everything.

And thanks to messaging, this is easier than ever.