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Talk to Me: Why Conversational Tech is Transforming the Customer Experience

In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone. The New Yorker later published an article commenting on the “ingenious contraption” and reported that people were “afraid that if they stood near one in a thunderstorm they might get hit by lightning”. Fast forward 145 years, and communication technology has taken an exponential leap; far from being afraid of lightning, people are now demanding it in the speed of their communication.

From the devices that host our conversations to the platforms on which they live, communication and conversational technology has become more crucial, more accessible, and more convenient. And this doesn’t just affect personal conversations – our Zendesk CX Trends 2021 report reveals that since the start of the pandemic, 32% of APAC consumers have reached out to business support via messaging for the first time.

The message is clear: the benchmark for the ease of personal communication has quickly evolved to become a business essential.

The Power of Conversation

Modern conversational support is asynchronous, convenient, and personal, allowing brands to provide customers with the experience they want, on their own terms and in their own time. Our Agility in Action research shows just how crucial this is: nearly half (49%) of customers in APAC are more likely to buy from a company that offers their preferred approach to service.

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This also plays an important role in helping businesses maintain a long-term relationship with their customers by building trust and accessibility across their entire journey. In fact, our data on Messaging shows 50% of businesses in APAC offer messaging because it provides faster time-to-resolution, and 42% use it to provide 24-hour support. This shows that businesses adopting messaging are keeping their customers’ wants and needs top of mind. It’s a powerful channel that shows consumers that brands are serious about connecting with them, responding to their pain points, and being present in the ways that they prefer.

Being Present and Available to the Digital Customer 

To unlock the success of your digital customer journey, you first need to be a part of it. And with social messaging apps estimated to have 2.77 billion monthly users worldwide, businesses are adopting social messaging channels faster than ever.

Social platforms such as Instagram are powerfully optimized for businesses, allowing brands to appeal to and directly connect with customers over story replies, Instagram Direct Messages and mentions. According to data from Instagram, 200+ million Instagrammers visit at least one Business Profile daily, and direct message response rates climb by up to 55% compared to other channels. This sets businesses that use Instagram messaging up for success.

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A great example of a company that leverages messaging at scale is the global B2C e-commerce platform SHEIN, which sells fast-fashion goods.

The company responded to its rapidly growing customer base of social media users by partnering with Zendesk and using Messenger API for Instagram to integrate Zendesk’s messaging solutions with its Instagram account. As a result, SHEIN earned a 73% decrease in first-response reply time and a 50% increase in the number of Instagram messages customer service agents could respond to in one hour. The company has since been able to sort and respond to requests from customers on Instagram quickly and efficiently, as well as track customer satisfaction and operational productivity metrics.

Tap on Technology to Scale With Agility 

Messaging is powerful, but advanced conversational technology truly supercharges the customer experience by allowing intimacy at scale. To harness the potential of social messaging, businesses must equip themselves with the right platforms to connect with the swelling social population. 

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Agile tools will give agents the customer context and integrations they need to pivot with immediacy while maintaining a long-lasting conversation with customers. For example, solutions that quickly triage queries can enable quicker resolutions. For low complexity interactions, chatbots and automation can provide quick and simple answers – and our research shows that businesses in APAC are quickly realizing this, with 54% already tapping on automation or bots for intelligent suggestions and help. When a customer has more complex needs that require an agent’s empathy and understanding, modern conversational support solutions can thrive.

Perhaps the most powerful feature of a great conversational technology is its ability to enable omnichannel experiences across the entire customer life cycle. A single solution does away with irksome data silos, allowing sales, marketing, and support teams to access full customer context and conversation history, no matter where those interactions took place, so customers have a consistently great experience whenever they interact with your brand.

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Conversational experiences are just one part of creating an ongoing relationship with your customers, but it plays an important role in ensuring customers receive the convenient, highly personalized experience they want at every stage of their journey.

A final tip to all businesses: if you want to unlock your customers’ journeys, start first with your own messaging expedition.

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