Do messaging channels like WhatsApp have a place in the Professional Contact Center?

Do messaging channels like WhatsApp have a place in the Professional Contact Center?

Professional, enterprise-grade contact centers are built for conducting serious business. Similar to Swiss timepieces and elite Formula 1 race cars, a professional contact center is a highly calibrated machine built using complex mathematical algorithms and years of historic data.

When everything is running smoothly, the contact center manager can accurately estimate how many customer calls and emails the company will receive on any given Monday morning, how many agents the contact center will require, and how long each customer conversation will likely take.

With such a fine-tuned, well-working system, is there any need to change things? Do professional contact centers really need to support consumer-focused communication channels like WhatsApp? After all, as the phrase goes, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

Well… yes. There are actually a number of reasons why professional contact centers should consider adding support for WhatsApp and other modern conversational messaging that can not only improve customer experience, but also contribute to contact-center productivity gains and cost savings. Let’s look at a few key factors driving the adoption of WhatsApp and other conversational messaging channels in today’s professional contact centers.

Since the successful merger of MessengerPeople – one of the leading SaaS providers for messenger communication – with the international CPaaS player Sinch in September 2021, Matthias Mehner has been responsible for the marketing of the “Applications & Conversational Solutions” business unit at Sinch as Vice President.

Being titled as “one of the few real WhatsApp experts” by many media, including t3n, Matthias Mehner has gathered insights into thousands of conversational messaging campaigns and projects since 2017.

Based on this, he is constantly developing new strategies for the successful use of WhatsApp & other conversational messaging channels. Mehner is on the CCW Advisory Board, teaches at various academies & has published a reference book “Messenger Marketing” with Springer Gabler Verlag.

1) Changes in customer communication preferences: Shift from phone/email channels to messaging via SMS, messenger from Facebook and WhatsApp

Society has moved past telephone and email as our or sole or primary forms of communication. Today we regularly communicate with colleagues using digital productivity tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams. We reach out to friends and family using digital messaging apps like WhatsApp or Messenger from Facebook. Increasingly, we expect to be able to use these same familiar tools when corresponding with our favorite brands and businesses. It’s important to let customers choose how they want to engage.

Results from a recent Sinch-sponsored survey of global CX leaders, featured in a new IDC White Paper, showed approximately 61% of businesses are using WhatsApp, followed by Instagram at 52% and Facebook Messenger at 51%, while 48% of companies use SMS. This is a good direction to take knowing that the top 5 social messaging platforms, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Viber, have approximately 6.7 billion active users (IDC White Paper, “Digital Customer Experience: Leveraging Conversations to Drive Innovation and Differentiation in the Enterprise,” Doc #US48593121, January 2022)

Additionally, messaging channels like WhatsApp provide capabilities not supported by telephone interactions – such as reusable templates, rich media (including hyperlinks) and multimedia (pictures, videos, attachments), which provide a richer customer experience and help drive improved first-contact resolution (FCR) by providing more detailed information.

And by taking in advantage using leading CPaaS offerings with applications like the one from MessengerPeople with which you can use all of the most popular messaging apps – WhatsApp, Messenger from Facebook, Apple Messages, Instagram Direct Messaging, and more – all from one interface, so implementing new channels is quick and easy.

2) Shifting customer preferences toward ‘asynchronous’ communication channels that empower customers and provide time savings and improved convenience

According to the IDC White Paper, areas that are the most impacted by conversational messaging are improvements in customer satisfaction levels (57%) and an increase in the overall level of customer engagement interactions (53%).

While customers of the past were willing to deal with the inconvenience of dropping whatever they were doing in order to phone an organization, wait on hold, and then explain their issue multiple times to multiple different people, today’s customers expect to be able to fire off a quick SMS or WhatsApp message.

Asynchronous communication channels also benefit the business as well, by helping to flatten out traffic spikes. For example, while phone calls need to be answered immediately (or as quickly as possible) before the customer abandons the call, digital messages can be queued temporarily, allowing agents to respond to customer messages during periods of lower call volumes.

Using omnichannel contact center tools like Sinch Contact Pro your contact center reps can dynamically switch between queues, working on asynchronous items such as SMS, email, and messaging apps when call volumes are low. And of course, customers can take advantage of ‘channel switching’, asking for the agent to phone them or to initiate a video chat if things get too complex to resolve over SMS or messaging app conversations.

3) Increasing acceptance of chatbots and voicebots help to reduce contact-center operational costs while providing customers with faster, more hassle-free customer service

In the not-too-distant past, chatbots and voicebots were still quite rudimentary and sometimes struggled to understand customers or provide helpful answers.

However, in recent years AI and machine learning technologies have improved exponentially, enabling chatbots and voicebots – such as Conversational AI Chatbots from Chatlayer – to successfully answer 80% of common customer queries when used in conjunction with a well-trained data set.

Customers today are increasingly willing to use chatbots and voicebots to handle basic tasks like checking their account balance, scheduling an appointment, or booking a trip – with many customers preferring the speed and convenience of bots as opposed to the hassle of speaking with a live agent. As we at Sinch like to say:

Don't force customers to go on a long 'customer journey' just to do something as simple as booking a train ticket. 🙂

It’s hard to believe how much has changed when it comes to brand-to-customer relationships in recent years – what’s the best way to keep up?

The new IDC White Paper on conversational engagement includes a complete analysis of the recent Sinch-sponsored survey and provides actionable insights for leveraging messaging to drive innovation and differentiation in CX.

Sinch brings businesses and people closer with tools enabling personal engagement. Its leading cloud communications platform lets businesses reach every mobile phone on the planet, in seconds or less, through mobile messaging, email, voice and video. Sinch is a trusted international software provider to mobile operators, and its platform powers business-critical communications for many of the world’s largest companies. It has expanded its expertise in recent years through several successful acquisitions of companies in the communications sector, including the buyout of MessengerPeople, one of the European specialists in the field of conversational messaging.

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