Messaging: The Next (Current?) Preference in Communication

Does your contact center offer messaging as an option? If not, it most likely will very soon.

Look around anywhere and you’ll see dozens of people messaging rather than calling on their smartphones. It’s still used primarily as a way to communicate with family and friends, but that is now extending to communication between consumers and companies. In fact, among millennials just 12% prefer making a phone call to using a messaging app.

Why? For starters, waiting for a response via message is preferable to waiting on hold for an agent. Contact center messaging also provides a written record of what the company says, which may be helpful later in case there is a dispute. It also allows a way for photos or even video to be incorporated into the exchange, if that becomes necessary.

Of course, as with any communication channel, customers will expect responses that are timely and helpful. That doesn’t always happen when contact centers turn over control of the messaging channel to chatbots.

The good news is that bots are smarter than they were when they were first introduced (when Facebook rolled them out, they couldn’t hold up their end of a conversation about 70% of the time). But even the better ones give themselves away with the phrases they use and pre-programmed upsell messages that may not be welcome to the receiver. That’s why a survey at found that 8 out of 10 consumers that like messaging still prefer to interact with a real person.

Sometimes that may not be necessary. Contact centers may be moving toward a system that positions bots on the front line of messaging to take the “How late are you open?” type of questions, and then shift the rest to live agents who can message more specific responses. And as chatbots become more sophisticated, they will be able to answer more sophisticated questions.

We’re still near the beginning of this transition. But a Seattle Times article found that customer satisfaction rates are already 25% higher for messaging than calling. That means it may be time to get your agents ready to start letting their fingers do the chatting. Most will be open to the change, as an angry message is easier on the eardrums than an angry caller. Managers should embrace the change as well, since agents will be able to chat through messaging with more than one customer at the same time. That means faster service and happier customers.

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