The Complete Guide to Engaging Customers on Private Messaging

Discover how your company can use the world’s most popular private messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Apple Messages to engage customers, solve customer service questions, and build brand loyalty.

The staggering numbers behind the world’s most popular messaging apps

  • 1.5 billion

    Apple devices worldwide

  • 2 billion

    WhatsApp users worldwide

  • 988 million

    Monthly Facebook Messenger users

Why Customers Love Engaging Over Private Messaging Channels

So why are customers moving toward private messaging? In a word: simplicity. Consumers have redefined the model for how, when, and where they interact with your company. They want to reach out using the same platforms they use to message friends and family.

And, just like when messaging a friend or family member, the flow of conversation happens on the customer’s terms. They don’t have to wait on hold to speak to an agent. They simply send a message and get on with the rest of their day. And, with consumers gaining greater control of their own digital customer experience, satisfaction, and therefore retention, are likely to increase.

How Your Company Can Leverage Messaging Channels

The asynchronous nature of private messaging allows agents to handle multiple queries simultaneously. By empowering your employees to work more efficiently, you can handle higher inbound volumes without having to hire more agents.

Private messaging channels are the perfect place to introduce automation into your customer engagement strategy so your organization can operate at a greater scale.

A bot may collect customer information before handing the conversation over to a human agent or handle the entire conversation itself to let customers know their order status or help them to book an appointment.

This is the key to unlocking customer engagement at scale – identifying customer queries that can be resolved through automation to provide faster resolution and allowing your employees to focus on the queries that require the emotional intelligence of a human agent.

Learn More About Verint Messaging

Reducing cost per contact by 50% with Verint Messaging

When Meyer Group found that its average handling time for a customer inquiry was 60 days, it reimagined its customer experience by placing Verint Messaging at the heart of a new strategy.

Read the Case Study
woman in city holding phone

"Customers have the flexibility to communicate with us however they choose and we’re ready for them. The experience is now fast, engaging, and rewarding." - Tanya Geekie, Head of Customer Experience at Meyer Group

Why Brands Are Embracing Messaging

You’re already familiar with messaging because you use it every day to communicate with your friends and family. Now, imagine tapping into a customer engagement channel that’s already being used by almost every person on Earth. It’s a powerful tool that makes it easier for your customers and your agents.

Here’s a short list of things that don’t happen on messaging:

  • Customers waiting on hold.
  • Customers losing connection.
  • Customers having to repeat themselves after getting transferred.
  • Customers staying glued to a browser window.
  • Customers being told they have to call for further support.

The future of customer engagement means that brands must become adept at leveraging messaging channels — Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp Business, Apple Messages for Business, Google’s Business Messages, Twitter DM – and the list goes on.

While developments in platform functionality — and brands’ willingness to embrace the changing world around them — have no doubt played a role, the majority of this dynamic change has been driven by the consumers.

Customers no longer have to wait on hold; their session doesn’t end when they close their browser, They don’t have to download your app or even go to your website. They pick up their device (which, let’s be honest, is already in their hand to begin with) and engage with your brand using those same messaging platforms that they use day-in and day-out.

Truly innovative brands are already harnessing messaging channels to acquire new customers, engage the ones they have, and care for the customers who need just a little bit more — differentiating themselves in this crowded market.

What is Conversational Marketing?

In short, it’s the antithesis of impersonal, one-way mass marketing. Conversational marketing is a way of engaging consumers with a two-way conversation that builds trust and loyalty by making the whole customer experience as personalized and seamless as possible.

In the case of messaging channels, it means brands creating a blend of human and automated interactions on the apps customers use for everyday interactions. Conversational marketing is about engaging across the whole customer lifecycle, with unique experiences each and every time consumers interact with a brand. The key is to shift away from individual, isolated interactions with customers and instead embrace continuous engagement powered by messaging.

Why Conversational Marketing on Messaging Apps Makes Sense

1. 71% of consumers expect brands to interact with them on messaging channels.

Two-thirds also want personalized experiences, and messaging channels are the only solution that offers two-way conversations at scale.

2. 80% of time spent on mobile phones is using messaging apps. 

If that’s where your customers hang out most of the time when they’re using a phone, it’s a much better avenue for engagement than asking them to email you or download your company’s own app.

3. Over 1 billion people interact with businesses using messaging channels. 

And the potential audience is far larger — WhatsApp alone has more than 2 billion users, with Facebook Messenger not far behind with 900 million users.

4. 67% of consumers will drop a brand if they have to repeat themselves. 

Customers don’t see multiple touch points across a brand’s different channels — it’s one single digital relationship. Teams working in silos with no visibility of previous interactions is a surefire way to frustrate people reaching out to interact with your company. The relationship needs to be treated as a series of continuous conversations rather than one-off engagements.

5. Messaging channels offer 3 times more engagement than email. 

Native messaging apps like WhatsApp and Apple Messages for Business have an open rate of nearly 50 percent and 43 percent click-through rate, respectively, which dwarfs the engagement seen on other channels.

Download The Verint Conversational Marketing Playbook

The Role of Messaging in Social Customer Service

When customers engage with your company over public social media channels, they now expect a response. But not just any response. A response that is timely, solves their issue in-channel and leaves them with a positive customer experience.

Some 53 percent of consumers under the age of 45 have reached out to a company over public social media channels. Much like private messaging, public social media empowers customers to engage with companies on their own terms. They can send a comment when they want, wherever they want.

Why Companies Need to Embrace Public Social Media Customer Engagement

Whatever industry your company is in, it’s likely to have some form of social media presence. And, whether you like it or not, customers will engage with you on social media in some way. The only choice you have is whether to be passive or to actively engage your customers.

Responding to customer queries in public helps to build your brand by showing other customers that you’re responsive and take the time to resolve issues and answer questions.

Even if a customer leaves a complaint on a public social media channel, it’s an opportunity for you to turn that experience into a positive one.

One way of doing that is by providing a seamless experience between two digital channels: public social media and private messaging channels. Most public social media channels have a corresponding private messaging function that can be used to deliver a more conversational customer experience. A customer may reach out on Twitter to complain that they haven’t received a refund, but your agent can move the conversation to Twitter DM to resolve the issue in private.

By offering customer experiences that span public social media and private messaging, agents are able to work seamlessly across channels to deliver the right answer, at the right time, on the right channel.

Implementing Automation on Messaging Channels

By mid-2016, companies had launched over 11,000 Facebook Messenger bots. Thousands of articles and billions in venture funding heralded their disruptive arrival on the CX scene. Yet consumers didn’t take to them. Most of these bots lacked crucial characteristics. They had poor CX, misunderstood simple commands, and didn’t pass user requests along to human agents. These bots often led to a frustrating consumer experience. But today’s bots, powered by advanced Conversational AI as we’ve developed at Verint, are booming once again.

Automation allows for brands to go further, building unique conversational experiences driven by intent to help acquire and engage customers.

Today’s bots are of a much higher caliber because they exhibit most — if not all — of these ten recommended features of a super-useful chatbot:

Able to learn: There’s nothing more frustrating than having to repeat yourself to a bot over and over. If you tell a chatbot once that you live in New York, it now remembers this and other relevant information for future interactions using what’s known as “progressive profiling.”

Able to fail usefully: Chabots are now built to realize when a request exceeds their abilities. They now escalate complex issues to human agents and record the data so creators can prioritize these features in the bot’s product development.

Personalized: Along with remembering things like a customer’s name and reason for seeking support, chatbots can now show more empathy and adjust their language and tone based on context. For example, acknowledging that a flight cancellation is inconvenient and providing an empathetic response, rather than treating it with nonchalance.

CX-First: Chatbots can prompt users with a menu of options, sometimes based on previous interactions. If the chatbot is unable to handle a complex request, it instantly escalates the issue to a human agent.

Accessible: Chatbot interfaces now must be equally accessible to all customers, regardless of language proficiency or any visual or hearing impairments. Bots should be able to read text aloud for the visually impaired, for example.

Secure: In the wake of recent data breaches, bots are more secure than ever. Many are now entirely transparent about what data they collect and what they use it for. Users often have the option to opt out of data collection if desired.

Explainable: Yesterday’s chatbots were built on machine learning or neural network algorithms (they mimic a human brain by recognizing relationships between different datasets) which, while they could reach the right conclusions, couldn’t explain their reasoning. This prevented teams from diagnosing their poor service. Today’s support chatbots are more transparent and use explainable forms of AI that allow teams to improve their service.

KCS-friendly: Short for knowledge-centered service, KCS is a method and set of guidelines for building and preserving organizational knowledge. It’s great for creating artificially intelligent machines, as it gives bot creators a roadmap to follow to make sure chatbots are ethical, helpful, and improve over time.

Analytical: A great chatbot will be able to suggest and recommend products and services for a user based on current or previous interactions. This can easily turn a customer issue into an upsell automatically, without involving an agent.

Extendability: A bot doesn’t have to be confined to a single channel. Technology such as Verint Intelligent Assistant can be used across channels, including any existing platforms your organization may be using for customer engagement.

Learn More About Verint Bots

Humans Empowered by Automation

Humans don’t scale and bots don’t build relationships. You need both to succeed.

In this new bot-driven service world, a few more tricks are needed than just high IQ and emotional intelligence, also known as emotional quotient, or EQ. Business magnate Jack Ma coins “LQ” as the future brand differentiator. LQ, which stands for “love quotient,” is the next iteration in our societal obsession with benchmarking ourselves and attempting to flesh out our advantage over the machines. Take for example, a customer who complains about a hair in their coffee. It takes IQ to surmise that they want a new cup of coffee, but as any human can tell you, that’s likely not enough. It requires EQ to make that next leap and understand the customer is also seeking emotional validation for their experience.

Now, let’s say a machine is capable of that much — it would still be unlikely that a bot would find the right words to satiate this innate desire of validation that we seek as humans. What that customer needs at this point is an escalation past the colossal AI intelligence that’s broad enough to monitor messaging channels, and past the deep emotional intelligence that’s sensitive enough to register emotion and cough out appropriate answers — straight to a human agent.

And that human can then apologize and make the situation right because they have LQ. They care — they can make a real connection.

LQ needs to be at the forefront of all brands’ service infrastructure in the coming age of automation. Ma argues that LQ will be what separates successful brands from the machine-driven ones who, although highly intelligent and endlessly emotional, will completely miss the point.

We are entering a world where humans and bots work together over messaging channels to simplify people’s lives.

Learn More About Verint Messaging