The Messaging Mandate
This post is Part 2 in a three-part series. Part 1 focused on why messaging is so critical for customer service. This article explores the criteria your company should use to evaluate potential messaging providers. Finally, Part 3 will discuss some factors to consider as you implement your new messaging service.
In a customer service call center, you need the latest technology to facilitate meaningful, effective communication between your customer service agents and consumers.
More and more, consumers are interested in speaking directly to brands and businesses in the most familiar and convenient ways. Standard interpersonal messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger can offer appealing solutions. Rich business messaging options such as Google’s Business Messages and Apple Business Chat are also increasingly popular for consumer-to-business interactions.
Your company can capitalize on messaging’s popularity by providing fun, easy messaging options that make consumers want to communicate with your business and stick with your brand. To do so, however, you’ll need to choose the right messaging vendor. Let’s discuss what you need to know to make that essential decision.
Determining Business Messaging Objectives
Before leaders can begin narrowing down the messaging options for their companies, they first need to decide what they want to gain from the new technology. Below are a few questions to consider:
- What consumer demographics do you hope to reach through messaging?
- How likely is your current consumer base to message your company for help?
- Do you want to use messaging for inbound communications, outbound communications, or both?
- Do you hope to improve specific areas of customer service or enhance customer communications overall?
- What are your cost-saving objectives, and how do you plan to use your messaging platform to meet them? For instance, do you hope to reduce the volume of inbound customer calls and lower staffing needs?
- Will messaging be a component of an omnichannel support strategy for your company?
Clarifying objectives and strategies can give you a clearer picture of how to evaluate different messaging platforms.
How to Select Business Messaging Tools and Vendors
Once you’ve determined your main goals, start learning more about different messaging providers, using the criteria below to evaluate quality.
1. Experience and Knowledge
Some messaging vendors offer flashy products but have little tried-and-true experience with them in real applications. As you review vendors, ask questions about their expertise in solving the types of problems your business tends to encounter. Find out how familiar they are with customer service and support, and learn what types of companies they’ve worked with before.
You should also seek out vendors with a demonstrated record of success in creating solutions for customer service teams. These vendors will have the in-depth industry insights to help your company address its thorniest challenges.
2. Customer-Obsessed Culture
For a successful partnership, make sure your new vendor has the same customer-first mindset you do.
As you check out potential partners, evaluate which ones stand out in their customer focus. Listen carefully to their sales or pilot cycles for your company. Do they ask questions about how messaging can drive value by helping you engage with customers? Do they have genuine insights for improving your customer service, messaging, and overall success?
Even small details of your messaging platform affect how you and your customers communicate. A vendor that prioritizes customer needs helps you position yourself well as a responsive industry leader.
3. Product Features and Capabilities
One of the most critical factors in determining which tool is right for you is the range of its functionalities. Take the time to assess different products and ask questions like these about their capabilities:
- How does the product treat customer requests? Does it create a ticket that goes into a queue, or does it facilitate a real-time conversation with a single customer service agent?
- How many messaging and chat apps does it support within a single interface?
- How skillfully does the tool allow agents to move between simultaneous conversations?
- How well does the system prioritize customer communications?
- Can the system automatically route conversations to the best queue?
- Can agents quickly consult with a colleague or supervisor when they need assistance?
- Can supervisors easily monitor conversations and step in to assist as needed?
- Do supervisors have easy-to-use reporting tools that help them track agent productivity and results?
- Can the product stand alone and also integrate seamlessly with other customer service applications or order management systems?
- Can the product scale with businesses as they grow, readily handling increased demand?
4. Security Features
Most people today know how easily sensitive personal data can become vulnerable to theft. Your company needs a messaging platform that lets you reassure your consumers their data is secure and private.
When you talk to different vendors, ask them what security protocols they use for their messaging tools. Inquire about both the technology and servers on which the technology runs. If you’re looking at cloud-based messaging tools, ascertain whether the vendors can ensure your data will never mix with other companies’ data.
You should also ask about how vendors keep data accessible and prevent loss and theft. Additionally, ask what security audits they run, how often they run them, and what documentation they keep.
Automation makes communicating with consumers more efficient and convenient. As you assess vendors, determine how they use automation to simplify and streamline your processes.
For instance, a platform might automatically prioritize which customer messages your agents engage with next in chat apps, ideally taking customer engagement into account along with your SLAs. It might also allow you to set up automated text messages or create automatic no-contact lists that enable consumers to opt out of communications. Talk to your potential vendors about the level of automation they provide and how you can tailor the automated solutions to your needs.
6. Ease of Use
Business messaging software needs to contain the features you need to communicate effectively — and those features should be easy to use. For instance, a messaging platform should have an intuitive, easy-to-navigate interface. It should offer quick, efficient messaging options and practical ways for agents to move between simultaneous conversations efficiently.
It should be straightforward to implement on multiple devices, such as desktops, laptops, iPhones, and Android phones or tablets. It should also provide simple, at-a-glance ways for supervisors to use reports to track agent productivity if necessary.
One feature that makes business messaging software easy to use is templates. You might turn commonly used text messages into templates, saving time by eliminating the need to repeatedly write the same message content. This feature allows your employees to answer frequently asked questions quickly or send out repeat messages such as periodic reminders.
Templates are also helpful for ensuring consistency across your communications. Different agents using the same templates will provide a consistent tone and unified messaging for consumers. Check with your potential vendors to see what templates they offer and how you can customize them for your work.
The best business messaging platforms integrate seamlessly with the other software and platforms you use, like Zendesk or Oracle Cloud. If you use an order management system or any other centralized knowledge repository, you’ll want your messaging platform to integrate with that system. That way, customer service agents can use details contained in those systems to inform their conversations.
Be sure to discuss your overall business operations and existing platforms with your vendors to determine how well your new messaging software will fit in.
Consider the value you’ll gain from your vendor and your business messaging software. The most sophisticated business messaging app in the world, with seemingly limitless bells and whistles, will be of limited use to you if it significantly restricts your budget in other areas.
Be upfront with each technology provider as you evaluate your options. Have a realistic idea of your budget, and select a messaging platform that will give you the best return on your investment.
When you choose a messaging platform, you want to know it’ll only get better and better. As you talk to vendors, ask about their plans for future development. Find out what new capabilities they want to see in their tools and how they plan to make those goals a reality.
Does your chosen vendor have plans for increased automation, or does it have ideas for how to make agents more efficient and productive? Enthusiasm, conviction, and clear plans for the future are valuable indicators. They can often tell you how well you’ll work and grow with your messaging tool over the long term.
Partner With Quiq for Quality Business Messaging
When you need dependable business messaging to enhance communications with your customers, reach out to Quiq. Our business messaging platform blends the characteristics we’ve described above for superior performance and value. We enable intuitive, meaningful connections through channels like text messaging, web chat, Apple Business Chat, Google RBM, Facebook, and Twitter to help you communicate more effectively with consumers.
Refresh your memory in Part 1 or learn more in Part 3 of this series, or schedule a live demo to see whether Quiq’s services are right for you.