Businesses that continue to broadcast to their customers rather than listen are what John Wayne has described as in a group “short on ears and long on mouth.”
If you wonder whether it’s wise to be in the former category rather than latter, take a moment and count how many people you know who are fine with being talked at or even ignored.
You clearly won’t need much time. That list is small if it exists at all.
The flip side exercise, the one where you identify those who find value in a discussion, is considerably more valuable. Resulting positive business outcomes from conversations often include increased loyalty and reduced churn, among others.
“At its core, excellent customer communication is about having meaningful and effective conversations with customers so that companies can meet their needs,” said Ritu Jyoti, IDC Program Vice President. “A reliable and productive conversation leads to improved customer satisfaction, faster response times, increased loyalty to brands, and reduced effort from the customer.”
If you buy into the what — the importance of conversing with your customers — you likely have or soon will ask yourself how.
At Sinch, we’ve spent considerable time not just understanding customer behavior but building products and services that enable businesses to address the customer’s wants and needs.
This is not the 1990s when search and email were the top choices for brands to reach people. For instance, today our customers see an average open rate of 25% when they utilize email. On the other hand, with SMS, there is not just ubiquity, but open rates that consistently meet or exceed 95%.
Add to that the breakaway channel of 2020, omnichannel, conversational mobile messaging that goes beyond the 160-character limit of SMS to deliver app-like rich experiences to the approximately 3 billion users on messaging apps.
Why is mobile messaging today’s choice?
There are approximately 7 billion mobile users worldwide. Plus, most people would rather schedule a package delivery via WhatsApp or a dental visit via SMS than search their email or wait on hold for customer service. Consumers in a world suffused by always-on social media expect the same fluency and convenience from the brands that engage with them. That’s a challenge for many businesses, but it’s an even greater opportunity — just look at the mobile first economies like India, Latin America and China today where conversation-led business is mainstream today.
To grow this globally, we’ve introduced Sinch Conversation API, which in its core use case offers one single API endpoint for sending and receiving messages across the most popular channels using one unified format. Businesses can offer customers a personalized chat experience on their preferred channel, whether it’s marketing-, service- or operations-driven. Conversation API currently services SMS, RCS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Viber, with more channels to come.
For more advanced messaging use cases, Sinch Conversation API offers conversations, contacts, switching between Bot and Human chats and much more for the advanced chatbot and conversational messaging application developer. Sinch’s Chatlayer technology can automate the process of conversational messaging at scale in well over 125 languages, answer frequently asked questions, and even perform an intelligent handoff when it is unable to answer the question. This reduces costly live agent interactions and long wait times for call centers and improves the customer experience.
Different message channel features and functions are supported through built-in transcoding. Developers have the option to use either a global message template and for it to be automatically transcoded to each message channel format, or simply ignore transcoding and specify an exact layout for the channel you are interested in.
Why is this important? A developer needs to only become familiar with one Messaging API and yet have the power of conversations across all supported channels, still offering full control over channel specific features if required.
Further, it doesn’t matter which conversation channel the customer engages over, or switch between a single callback contains all aspects of the conversation for easy integration into the Sinch portfolio of services, or any third-party platform.
The benefits of transitioning to omnichannel messaging through SInch Conversation API are plentiful.
Let’s look at them individually.
Each channel has unique abilities and limitations—what formats it can and can’t support, what content it allows from a compliance perspective—and every consumer uses different apps for different reasons. If your business lacks a unified approach to customer communications, going omnichannel might prove cumbersome for your development, applications and customer support teams.
Every business justifiably wants to control its look and feel, across every message and every channel.
Cross-channel relationships rely on conversation history and context. If your banking customer starts a chat at home and wants to continue after leaving the house, an automated “warm handover” can seamlessly move that conversation history to WhatsApp. And if the customer posts a message there — “Here’s my case ID”— the customer service team will get her history without having to ask questions she might have already answered.
This type of proactive, seamless brand interaction makes for a more positive customer experience, and also takes some weight off the shoulders of your operations team. By combining the features of mobile messaging with rich, app-like content, you can keep everyone up to date—and drive real business results.
The service journey is crucial to creating lasting customer relationships and brand advocacy. Consumers have tired of dialing a call center and staying on hold for prolonged periods in order to get simple questions answered. An integration can include a chatbot whose natural language abilities enable it to converse with customers on topics it has been trained on. It can also seamlessly transfer your conversation history to a contact center application. More advanced chatbots enable automated two-way chats that retain context and continuity in multiple languages, even if the user switches channels.
Omnichannel mobile messaging also makes it easier for clients to give feedback—since in many cases, your best feedback comes from customers who would otherwise feel that sharing their experience would take too much effort. If they leave their feedback on a chat app, you can also engage them instantly if it’s a negative review.
Unleash the power of Conversation AI
The ability is there to take customer support even further comes with conversational AI, which uses artificial intelligence to enable technologies like chatbots to interact with people in a way that seems human. This truly enhances the customer experience and radically reduce costs, making for a delightful combination.
Too much development time and management overhead goes into maintaining one-off APIs. While no one can be sure exactly how the messaging world will evolve, we do know that existing channels will grow their user base in new countries, telcos will create entirely new channels, and even new chat apps will appear.
Compliance and Channel Optimization
You can’t send promotional or marketing messages on WhatsApp. You have to create carousels and reply chips on RCS and Facebook. And what you can do in checkout might be very different in one region than it is in another.
Your development team doesn’t need to become experts in all these channels if you have a partner that already knows how to do everything possible to keep you compliant with them all.
Put simply, with the Sinch Conversation API, you are always in control of your customer conversation whether it be over SMS, RCS, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger and more. Of course, the API will support additional channels as they become popular.
Your customers will reward you for being long on ears and short on mouth. And John Wayne would be proud.