How Consumer Behavior is Shaping Customer Communications
People used to interact with companies in three ways – in person, by letter, or on the phone. Then came fax, email, and websites. Next came mobile messaging, apps, portals, and chatbots. Not to mention Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the other social media platforms. Looking ahead there may well be XR-inspired interactions or even holographic chats.
In the midst of this ongoing communications revolution, it can be hard for businesses to work out which direction to take.
The great news is there are vital clues to be found in studying consumer behavior. By carefully observing behavioral trends to understand how people want to communicate – both with each other and with organizations – you can make sure your business delivers exceptional experiences. Experiences that address customers’ needs, drive loyalty, and ultimately boost revenue.
Mobile messaging is our default setting
Today, when someone wants to check in with a friend or family member, their first instinct is to send a mobile message rather than to make a call. This is especially true of younger generations that have grown up with the ease and intimacy (yet comforting distance and detachment) of messaging.
This preference for mobile messaging already extends to the way customers interact with businesses. It was in evidence during 2021’s Cyber Week, with over four billion mobile interactions taking place across our platform on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
SMS was the most used channel, followed by more advanced messaging channels such as MMS, RCS, and mobile app messaging, that offer rich, interactive two-way communication. Voice and video interactions were still used by those seeking human interaction, but messaging was the preferred option.
Businesses should already be switched on to mobile messaging. By winning a place on your customer’s contact list and being available for text-based conversations you can answer questions about products, receive comments on services, provide general updates or lend a helping hand when your customers need it.
Chat apps deepen the dialogue
We know consumers are comfortable communicating with businesses via SMS and MMS. But everyday conversations with friends and family often take place over other chat-based messaging channels like Messenger, WhatsApp, Line or Telegram. More than 3.2 billion people will use these chat channels across the globe in 2022, although the prevalence of individual apps varies by region and demographic.
Businesses can tap into the popularity of these chat channels, using them to engage in richer, more personalized customer dialogue. By making life easier for your customers and communicating via conversational channels they are already familiar with, you can build trust and demonstrate you care about their experience. And, with other businesses only just starting to understand the benefits of chat, you can get ahead of the competition.
Whether you integrate them into your communication stack using APIs or access them via a single platform like our Moments omnichannel customer engagement solution, chat channels can significantly improve satisfaction. They also give customers more choice, allowing them to interact with you via the channel that suits them best.
When Leroy Merlin integrated WhatsApp into its contact centers, CIO Dmitriy Anderson explained “We realized that one of our customers’ favorite communication channels is WhatsApp. As it is widely used, we knew we needed to integrate it into our contact center solution to allow customers to get in touch with us through their favorite chat app. It was a tactical approach to customer satisfaction, providing them with more choice.”
Automation is increasingly accepted
Whether they’re asking Alexa to play a favorite song, or setting Siri to control the central heating, everyone’s getting more enamored with automation. Ultimately people want convenience and simplicity. Anything that makes their lives easier is welcomed with open arms.
This is especially true in interactions with businesses. Consumers want to complete a transaction or get the information they need as quickly as possible, with minimal effort. They don’t much care whether that process is enabled by a real person or an algorithm.
The potent combination of automation and mobile messaging channels opens a huge range of possibilities for customer communication. From self-service onboarding processes to AI-powered customer service bots, automation streamlines interactions to make them more effective and efficient.
Chatbots are already an integral part of customer lives and we’re all familiar with their qualities and limitations. Most people are happy to communicate with a bot if it gets them where they need to be quickly and easily. This newfound consumer ease with chatbots is an unprecedented opportunity to be there for customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, building trust, loyalty, and advocacy. And creating your own bot doesn’t need to be a complex process – you can use a simple plug-and-play chatbot building platform.
By introducing a chatbot to offer its customers 24/7 support and information via WhatsApp, Nissan Saudi Arabia boosted customer satisfaction and also increased leads by an impressive 138%. While this type of always-on support is currently seen as a business differentiator, it will soon become an expectation – something your customers will insist on.
Addressing the generation gap
There are inevitable differences in how demographic groups respond to changing customer communications. Gen Z and Millennials naturally have an outsized influence on the evolution of communications and are largely more comfortable with automation.
These younger age groups are often seen to have an unhealthy relationship with their mobile phones. But in reality, this is driven by a desire to be connected with digital solutions and enjoy the convenience and opportunities they bring. This desire can’t be underestimated. Businesses must tap into it and establish relationships on these terms.
But equally older generations mustn’t be discounted. They want a convenient and personalized experience as much as their younger counterparts. Adoption may just take a little longer. Very soon, people of all generations will expect to message a company with any question and receive a satisfying automated response.
Healthcare is a great example of a sector where automated interactions are becoming widely accepted and are driving integrated experiences across all age groups. There’s self-service patient registration and automated appointment booking for virtual consultations. Then there’s two-way chatbot conversations to assist diagnosis as well as remote patient monitoring. Digital communications are streamlining the sector in so many ways. Of course, with the sensitive data that flows throughout the sector, it is vital these interactions take place via a secure platform, with layered protection and swift authentication designed with user privacy in mind.
Ready to make a start?
Customer communication is evolving in countless ways, but by observing trends in consumer behavior you can put your business on the right track. For now, simply strengthening your mobile messaging, expanding to include popular chat apps, and automating some interactions can be enough to deliver the seamless experiences your customers are coming to expect.