Building stronger customer relationships with messaging

We’re excited to introduce Zendesk messaging for web and mobile — bringing rich, modern and automated conversational experiences to your own properties.

By Jesse Martin, Content Marketing Associate

Published November 10, 2020
Last updated January 13, 2021

Messaging is everything right now. Our world is threaded together by conversations that happen on the apps on our phones. Messaging helps us stay connected when we’re apart, and conversations can happen any time, anywhere. It’s no wonder businesses have taken heed.

Meanwhile, live chat has been a long-time staple of customer service solutions, with real-time conversations between businesses and their customers that happen mostly on the web. People who don’t wish to talk on the phone or wait all day for an email could chat with a customer service rep in the same way they might chat online with a friend. It has worked out great for businesses, too: Their customers get help in the context of their website instead of being forced to poke around for an email address, a phone number or a web form.

That’s why we’re excited to bring messaging to your business’s web and mobile properties. This is live chat for the modern consumer. It’s both real time and ongoing, bringing out the best aspects of live and social messaging. It’s scalable, beautiful, and...the best part? It’s designed with customers, agents and businesses in mind.

The No 1 way customers prefer to message a company is via the company's own site or app

(Zendesk Benchmark)

Live chat or else

In the years we’ve come to know it, live chat has done some soul-searching. Facebook-owned WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger have become insanely popular channels for businesses because customers were already using them in their daily lives. Messaging is deeply embedded in every relationship we have but — between the GIFs, emojis, multimedia, mini-apps — it looks nothing like live chat.

While social messaging channels are a crucial part of a modern CX strategy, the No 1 way customers prefer to message a company is via their own sites and apps — where live chat is still the standard. From a consumer standpoint, we’re seeing that while customers want the convenience of live chat while browsing a website, they also want the modern elements of social messaging apps like WhatsApp, iMessage and Facebook Messenger. On the business side, messaging has proved to be more than just convenient for customers, but also better for agents, more cost effective, and customisable.

“While much of the hype around business messaging has centred round the consumer chat apps, the vast majority of conversations are still happening on companies' homegrown properties via chat widgets embedded on their websites or inside their mobile apps.”

Mike Gozzo, VP of Product, Conversations, in Diginomica

One of the best parts about messaging is that it starts and stops whenever it’s convenient for the customer. It can be a quick "live" response or a back-and-forth that takes a few hours or days. Businesses using social messaging channels understand this. But when customers are still looking for web chat or in-app messaging on live chat’s turf, why should their experience be different?

Here are the three reasons why embedding messaging in your web and mobile properties is a surefire way to bolster customer experience. Are you ready to slip into something a little more asynchronous?

Messaging is easier for customers

Messaging means customers don’t have to repeat themselves

Business messaging is tailored to the customer and their level of need. A customer on a checkout page, for example, should get a response as quickly as possible, lest they abandon their shopping basket. We know that 75% of ecommerce customers who chat with businesses actually make a purchase, so it’s crucial not to let that opportunity go to waste. A customer using your app, however, might not require the same urgency. If a conversation can carry on at the convenience of the agent and the customer, for however long it takes, everyone can focus on the things that matter to them at the moment.

69% of US online adults use messaging to contact customer service

Source: State of Messaging 2020

One of live chat’s greatest setbacks is that it’s limited to sessions: as soon as a chat ends, whether on purpose or accidentally, the conversation history disappears into the ether. Everyone knows what it’s like to wait ages for a live chat rep to become available, only to have the WiFi bug out, a tab shut accidentally, or a distraction take you to another planet. To get going again, customers have to start from the top, repeating themselves and wasting time.

Social messaging apps let people chat back and forth without losing the conversation history and its context. When businesses adopted social messaging channels, this was one of the best features — customers don’t like having to repeat themselves, and agents get the context they need to address the issue and personalise the interaction. Messaging lets you keep the conversation going — just like social channels. It’s no wonder messaging has the highest CSAT of any channel, quicker resolution, and wide adoption by brands people love.

Ultimately, customers deserve the same treatment when messaging a live representative. At the risk of repeating ourselves, we have to say it again: Customers do not want to repeat themselves.

Messaging has richer features than live chat

Messaging has the highest CSAT at 98%

Source: CX Trends 2020

Waiting in a live chat queue for an agent to be free is always a bummer. Similarly, live chat clients often lack the thoughtful touches that make messaging everywhere else feel effortless. Social messaging has spoiled people with its rich features. Quick replies, auto responses, carousels, typing indicators and read receipts make it easier for companies who use messaging to understand and anticipate customers’ needs.

A carousel, where multiple bites of content can be shared and swiped through

By embedding messaging into your apps and websites, with the thoughtful touches that build better conversational experiences, customers will feel their time and value is being respected. Better CX means higher retention, higher loyalty and higher customer satisfaction. When messaging is available to customers, they gravitate towards it. Without the constraints of older live chat clients, customers are treated to an experience akin to chatting with friends, family and colleagues. Doesn’t that sound more comfortable?

Messaging makes support teams more efficient

Let’s add a touch of realism here: while customers love being able to chat with companies, it’s probably not the only way they’re keeping in touch. With legacy channels like email and phone, or newer social channels, it may seem like support agents already have too much on their plates. Not so!

Throwing messaging into the mix, especially when it can be managed alongside conversations from other channels, actually reduces friction. Agents can multitask, work asynchronously, and keep multiple conversations afloat — without the pressure of balancing multiple live conversations.

When agents have all the context they need at their fingertips, they can deliver the best customer experience possible. This context comes in the form of conversation history and relevant customer data — names, contact info, purchases — in a unified workspace. Instead of managing each channel in a silo, or forgoing certain channels altogether, agents can be allocated where needed to manage and track conversations.

Capturing customer context doesn't have to be hard. All the information can be captured before the conversation even starts — with the help of a little automation. Messaging makes it possible for brands to automate routine interactions to save time and collect data. Features like embedded forms which allow important data to be captured before anything is escalated to an agent.

Context is critical to a successful interaction and a satisfied customer. In a modern agent workspace, data like the customer’s name and contact info, as well as their interaction history, are visible to agents and accessible to team members. This frees agents from asking routine questions, allowing them to think critically about what’s actually important, and focus on more complex queries.

Messaging is easy to implement, customise, and scale

By 2022, 70% of customer interactions will involve emerging technologies such as machine learning, chatbots and mobile messaging

Source: State of Messaging 2020

When a customer needs help outside regular business hours, or has a question that can be resolved quickly, a bot is the first point of contact in the conversation. A bot can take down the customer’s info so the business can follow up later, or guide the customer through self-service. An agent does not necessarily need to be present to answer questions like “what are your store hours?” or “what’s your address?”, but it’s best practice to give customers the option of chatting with a person if they really need to.

Bots are better

  1. They save time

    Bots save time for agents and customers by collecting information before escalating. Capturing data, such as names and contact information, means the agent can add personal touches, while additional context can help them get to the root of the issue sooner.

  2. They help teams scale and reduce costs

    42 per cent of customer service leaders expect requests to grow, but they can’t always expand headcount. Deflecting one-touch requests, routing queries to the appropriate agent, and responding to customers outside business hours are all jobs a bot can do well. Let agents be agents.

  3. They create personalised conversational experiences

    Bots help you meet customers where they are, and where they need you to be. They don’t need time off to help customers navigate self-service, intake data, answer FAQs, or even learn on their own.

    But if a bot is not what your customer needs, they should be able to speak to a live person. A bot shouldn’t be a blocker — it should be built for the occasion.

From an operational perspective, chatbots might seem a bit scary. Historically, artificial intelligence, machine learning and decision trees have not been the most accessible fields for somebody setting up a support solution — but that’s changing.

There are different kinds of chatbots. Simple bots can be built by basically anyone using click-to-configure decision trees. They work out of the box, no coding needed, and are a great time saver for support teams. For less complex needs, a business should not need to involve a third party to build a straightforward experience.

Businesses should customise the experience. Both to their own needs, and for their customers. When things get complicated, an integrated messaging platform can help.

Messaging is a platform with endless customisable options

One of the most exciting aspects of messaging is how flexible it is. When you need a sophisticated chatbot — for complex use cases that require integrations, and dealing with more complex queries, working with a partner is the way to go.

Zendesk works with numerous partners to create myriad chatbots and help desk integrations, because customer experience isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of situation. A conversational agent workspace is cool, but the needs of online retailers are pretty different from the needs of hospitality. The local library does not need the same integrations as a global appliance manufacturer — but anything is possible.

How to customise an out-of-the-box messaging experience

Third-party integrations Advanced use cases, such as processing payments, marketing tools and e-commerce solutions
Messaging bot partners Build a customised bot, or work with one of Zendesk’s partners to make a bot as unique as your company
Proactive messaging Proactively reach out to customers with outbound notifications, send dispatch confirmations, booking reminders and updates
Group messaging Group chats aren’t just for your best friends — businesses can use them to connect the most important players (customers, agents, drivers, delivery people— you name it) to get the job done

Behind the scenes, the ability to integrate internal tools and new technologies helps customers do more when they interact with businesses. Working with customer data, following up on a different channel, and creating customised conversational experiences keeps the customer at the centre of everything.

And thanks to messaging, this is easier than ever.

Introducing Zendesk messaging

It’s live chat for the modern customer. Find out how to build an out-of-the-box messaging solution that will delight customers and agents — and learn how to take it to the next level with our Sunshine Conversations platform.