Every day, people interact with each other on a variety of channels such as SMS, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. Out of a growing need to provide consumers with the simplicity and convenience so critical for a proper customer experience, companies are gradually adopting those very same messaing channels to meet them where they want to be.
“If we dissect that a bit, we can point to a few primary use cases where a business would need to use messaging,” notes Remco Magielse, Head of Communications Platform at CM.com.
“Among other things, brands can utilize messaging to send notifications, authenticate users, provide support, increase engagement, automate customer interactions, and conduct sales.”
But how can businesses actually adopt these types of use cases? Let’s have a look at the ways companies utilize messaging channels on four different layers.
At the initial layer, companies use business messaging to notify and remind. Notifying your customer that their food order has been completed successfully, that they have a dentist appointment coming up, or whatnot. That first layer is the simplest one to implement and already adds value to the business, but there’s still a lot more to gain.
“Any company could use business messaging on this level: they can just add it on top of their existing business process. However, you don’t have to settle for only that range of notificational use cases,” Magielse says.
“It’s typically one-way messaging, which means the customer can’t directly interact with the business. The more advanced layers offer a more interactive type of communication.”
Next, we’re moving on to two-way messaging at its most traditional – yet effective – form, where we mostly see it used for customer support. This can be done via a live chat on the company’s website, but many companies are moving towards channels like WhatsApp, Viber, or Facebook Messenger.
“At this layer, messaging channels are helping your business throughout its digital transformation and become more important, while also providing more value to the customer,” Magielse explains.
“Conversational messaging allows a wide range of opportunities to get in touch with your customers in order to better your marketing, service, or sales”
For example, directly contacting your ISP in case of connection issues, or getting direct help from a mechanic at your garage to resolve issues with your car. Those types of options allow delivering a personalized solution in a timely and convenient way.
Moving on to the third layer, we’re now looking at messaging as a more central part of the business, as well as utilizing it in a more sophisticated and comprehensive manner. Potential use cases at this layer are marketing and support automation, appointment scheduling, and interactive customer engagement.
Smart conversational automation allows using data collected from the customer via a chatbot, for example, to understand their intent, provided them with personalized service, and transfer them to a human representative if necessary.
“This is where things start to get interesting, because the closer you get to the core of the business, the more value you add onto it and are able to provide to customers,” Magielse says.
“At this layer, we’re still using two-way messaging, but automating it cleverly. It’s more about what type of features the business is able to deliver, how efficient it is, or how much data it can collect to optimize decisions making.”
The fourth layer is the final frontier of business messaging, where channels are no longer viewed as a useful add-on, but rather, as the core of the business. This would typically include things like conversational commerce, advanced security, and potentially even bot colleagues.
“The most popular is the conversational commerce case, where one actually makes a purchase completely in the channel, getting even the service delivered through the channel,” Magielse notes.
“But we can also imagine scenarios where automated scripts take over a large portion of the workflow” he adds.
Let’s circle back to the food delivery case:
According to Magielse, a business could have a fully automated bot responsible for taking an order from a premade catalog available on their chat channel. Then, they collect the order, submit it to the restaurant and conduct the payment directly in the channel. Once the restaurant is done making it, they hand it over to a bot once again to select the right person to deliver it to, which ends with a human doing the delivery.
“We’re talking about a seamless integration between people and machines,” he says.
Ultimately, messaging channels, and conversational automation in particular, are becoming increasingly indispensable when it comes to delivering real value to customers. Luckily, there’s no need to be intimidated.
“As a company, you can start at the very basic level and expand gradually, because it’s a sliding scale. You can always move up the chain,” Magielse explains.
“I would advise business owners to ask themselves: ‘What part of my business could I replace with messaging?’ After answering that question, implementing messaging solutions will become much more intuitive, and can help scale effectiveness while reducing costs at the same time.”