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Article 4 min read

Future-proofing your customer experience with asynchronous messaging

By Lilia Krauser, EMEA Content & Communications Specialist

Last updated March 29, 2022

In a recent study commissioned by Zendesk, just 39% of customer service agents said they were confident they could respond to customers in a conversational, convenient way. And only 32% said they could effectively manage and monitor customer requests during the working day.

Both of these findings reveal powerful truths. Customer service staff often feel overwhelmed, particularly when they have to respond to everything quickly. They also recognise a growing demand among consumers for a different and more conversational approach to customer service—even if many of them don’t feel able to meet that expectation yet.

Why conversational experiences are crucial to success

What do we mean by “conversational”? Of course, there are elements of tone and style that come into play. But a big part of delivering conversational experiences is allowing the customer to engage with your company in the same way they do with friends and family: on the channels of their choice and when they have time to do so.

When we chat with loved ones on messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, we rarely expect this interaction to mimic a conversation in real life or on the phone. We send a message, but we don’t expect an instant reply. And if we don’t send an immediate response ourselves, the other party likely isn’t going to walk away from the conversation and cease communicating with us. This kind of conversation—with gaps and pauses, conducted over an extended time frame—is known as an asynchronous conversation.

Moving at the pace of the customer

Most customer conversations on messaging apps use some variation of live chat. As its name suggests, live chat involves two parties communicating by text in real-time. In some situations, it is exactly what is required. If the customer has an urgent problem, live chat allows an agent to communicate with the customer, gather their details, and solve the issue in real-time.

But what if the communication isn’t urgent? Or if the problem is too complex because, for instance, it involves retrieving or clarifying personal or product details? In these situations, live chat becomes an impediment to providing a good customer experience.

Take this example: To proceed with troubleshooting, a customer needs to unearth a difficult-to-find piece of information or to reset a device to its factory default. This may be far more effort than the customer expected when they started the interaction. And we all know from experience that it is hard to juggle a conversation with customer support while dealing with work, kids, dogs, and any other distractions around us.

At that point, what you need to do is give the customer the ability to take the conversation at their own pace, without breaking it off. We are all also familiar with the anxiety of wondering whether ending the support conversation we’re currently in will send us to the back of the queue.

The importance of asynchronous messaging

Asynchronous messaging applications solve this problem. They deliver what is known in the customer service world as “conversation persistence.” In contrast to the session-based approach of live chat, the asynchronous messaging app retains a record of the conversation between agents and customers.

Even if either party closes the asynchronous messaging app, the entire conversation remains and can continue at any point. If one of the parties sends a new message—for instance, the customer enters new information or the agent suggests a solution—the other party receives an alert on their device.

Customer reassurance and satisfaction aren’t the only benefits of integrating asynchronous messaging apps with your customer service tech stack. A recent report by Forrester found that incorporating asynchronous messaging helps agents gain back anywhere from 15% to 30% of their time.

Asynchronous messaging also provides another channel where you can gather customer insights, which can lead to better decision-making. And by giving customers a way to interact on their terms, in their time frames, you can divert many support tickets to less expensive channels, helping to reduce costs by as much as 80%.

With the right approach, the right technology, and the right partners, you can embed a conversational experience into your existing stack—helping to increase brand loyalty and improve the customer experience—right now.

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