With a huge number of widely adopted messaging platforms, it’s clear that the future of messaging is omnichannel but, more than that, it’s about established messaging channels rather than native apps. In fact, Gartner predicts that 80% of customer service organizations will abandon native apps in favor of messaging by 2025; a prediction that marks messaging platforms as the next customer service frontier.
So while some companies are powering ahead with their messaging strategies, others are just getting to grips with managing multiple messaging channels. Thankfully, you don’t have to go from zero to one hundred in one go; you can get there in stages.
Customer Digital Transformation Maturity Stages
There are four key stages to moving from basic messaging to full conversational commerce.
Delivering personalized marketing notifications direct to the inbox of your customers on a variety of messaging channels. This is about broadcast rather than conversation, so examples might include booking and order confirmations. Takeaway.com uses SMS to inform its customers their orders have been received and to give them estimated delivery times.
Rich Conversational Messaging
Moving into the realm of two-way messaging and engaging in dialogue with customers. Here we’d include Application-to-person (A2P) messaging, which can involve things like order tracking, surveys, and one-time passwords and PINs. Banks, building societies, and other financial institutions have been using A2P messaging to deliver automated, event-based SMS notifications to customers’ mobile phones for many years, and to conduct customer satisfaction surveys post-contact.
Cloud or Software Solutions
The next step is automating these conversations using cloud-based software. These messages can include informational queries, such as checking the status of delivery via automated responses. We worked with the Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix to create a WhatsApp chatbot that could answer customer queries and resolve frequently asked questions without the need for customer agents' involvement.
The fourth and final stage enables you to conduct your business anywhere, on any channel, with the ability to share product links in-channel with purchase and payment all available without ever leaving the chat. This is the final stage of messaging maturity whereby the functions of a business's website can be accessed via a messaging platform with a complete end-to-end commerce solution, payments, and the like all available to a consumer away from the vendor’s traditional e-commerce platform.
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The Benefits of Two-Way Messaging to Your Business
The benefits of moving your business through the four stages are numerous, but the primary benefit to your business is reducing friction for your customers. If they can receive a product marketing message, find information, click to purchase, and pay all in one, seamless journey, conversion rates are likely to be vastly higher than via a convoluted, multi-platform purchase funnel.
True two-way messaging allows for a more personalized, one-to-one marketing experience for your customers, making them feel valued and allowing you to tailor your messaging to their situation.
Equally, the ability to converse with your customers wherever they are on their favored channels is hugely valuable to ensure your message a) gets through and b) converts.
Delivering a seamless experience isn’t just about revenue, of course. Increased customer satisfaction and positive brand perception are just two of the soft metrics that can have a big impact on your bottom line, with the increased flow of data directly from customers allowing you to tweak your service offering to align more closely with your core customers. Ultimately, it’s a win-win for you and your customers.
How to Implement Two-Way Messaging
Understanding where your customers are is a good starting point to creating a messaging strategy, but it’s often not as simple as that. Many consumers shift seamlessly between platforms and use multiple channels as they move down the purchase funnel. Managing multiple channels from one omnichannel dashboard allows you to follow conversations seamlessly from one channel to the next and view the transcript of previous contacts to build a picture of exactly what your customers’ needs and wants are.