Could asynchronous messaging be the hidden gem of the customer experience landscape?
For years, we’ve assumed that the key to better customer service is ensuring that someone is always available to speak with a customer in real-time.
However, as customer service demands continue to increase and expectations evolve, relying on real-time communication alone leads to long wait times and poor customer satisfaction.
The long lines associated with waiting for real-time conversations not only negatively impact the customer experience, but can also be very damaging to your employees.
In recent years, during the challenges of the pandemic, customer service representatives have been under more pressure than ever to answer calls quickly, resolve issues quickly, and keep interactions personal, while at the same time the queue of unanswered calls and messages has grown longer.
Asynchronous messaging could be the answer.
What is Asynchronous Messaging?
Before we can get into the benefits of asynchronous messaging and how it can benefit your employees and customers, we need to define what this term actually means. Messaging has been a growing part of customer support for some time, as in messaging apps (like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp) as well as live chat apps on websites.
However, there’s more than one variation of messaging that companies should consider. Synchronous messaging refers to real-time communication. This can include anything from live chat sessions to interactions with a virtual assistant. The nature of the interaction means that both parties must be involved and communicate at the same time.
While synchronous messaging has its benefits when used properly, such as responding to customer inquiries quickly and conveniently, it can also present significant problems. For example, if you’ve ever tried to start a live chat with an agent and waited in a queue while you’d something else to do, you may have been one of the many customers whose chat was “shut down” simply because they weren’t paying attention at the right time.
Asynchronous messaging could be a solution.
With asynchronous messaging, communication is sequential, meaning each participant responds to the messages they see when they can. This is the same thing we experience when we chat with friends on WhatsApp or send emails to colleagues.
Supporting the Strained CX Team with Asynchronous Messaging
The problem with synchronous messaging is that the people who need to communicate in a customer service interaction are rarely available at exactly the same time. When someone sends a message to your site through your chat service, there’s a good chance they’ll be put in a queue to wait for the next available agent.
This means that your customer can not talk to someone right away, but still has to pause and wait for their message to be answered. The experience is very similar to waiting on hold. It’s difficult to get distracted and get something done while waiting for a response – which is frustrating for the customer.
Synchronous messaging, just like waiting on hold, take power away from the customer as they wait for the agent or brand representative to respond. Asynchronous messaging flips the script and gives the customer more control.
With asynchronous messaging, customers can leave the chat screen, do other tasks, and search for a response on their own time. This is often much more convenient than having to wait for a call, even if it takes a little longer to resolve an issue.
At the same time, asynchronous messaging is also beneficial for your team. They are under much less pressure to respond within a certain deadline and can handle requests and messages according to the priority schedule set by your company.
The Benefits of Asynchronous Messaging
Asynchronous messaging is essentially a way to deliver personalized, contextual, and 1:1 customer service to your customers at scale. You can even ensure that the same customer continues their conversation with an agent throughout the service experience.
Zendesk published results of a global survey showing that today support agents are handling 30% more tickets than before Covid 19. With globally distributed service teams facing a rapidly growing onslaught of customer requests across multiple platforms and channels, asynchronous messaging is emerging as a powerful solution. This tool enables contact centers to handle large volumes of requests, manage conversations more effectively, and build better relationships with customers.
Let’s now look at some of the key benefits of asynchronous messaging.
1. Customers Can Reach Out 24/7
Even if you do not always have staff that can handle service requests around the clock, you can provide a 24/7 service experience to your customers with asynchronous messaging. With this method, a customer who has a problem in the middle of the night can start a conversation with a chatbot or begin a self-help-guided process. This way, the customer can try out whether it’s possible to solve their problem themselves and does not need additional support from an agent. All customers have busy lives and their schedule plays an important role in how they request support. Busy moms have time when their children are sleeping. This is how we can support them with asynchronous messaging.
When self-help resolution is not possible, the customer system can seamlessly forward the message the customer originally sent to the chatbot to a customer service representative. Or, the data collected during the self-help process is forwarded to a customer service representative. The service team will respond within the next 24 hours if they have available staff – for example, the next business day. The system can automatically send messages to let your users know how long they have to wait for a response. So you set the expectation and then exceed it.
This means your customer does not have to wait until the morning and start the conversation all over again when a customer service representative is available and online. Plus, the customer sees the agent’s response when they have time. And if additional information is needed, the customer can fill it out when it’s convenient. Customers can call at the times that seem most urgent to them, without putting additional pressure on your staff.
2. You Show Your Respect for Your Customer’s Time
With asynchronous messaging, customers can start a conversation immediately, which means they spend less time on hold or explaining their problem to a representative. At the same time, once the message is sent, they are no longer tied to a specific tab on their computer or listening to music on hold on their phone. They have the freedom to walk away and do other important things while they wait for a response.
Asynchronous messaging shows your customers that you respect their time and allows them to disconnect from the chat whenever they want without having to start their request all over again. With intelligent automation tools on the backend of your ecosystem, your technology ensures that the request is routed to the right agent, so the customer does not have to worry about it.
Also, during synchronous communication, there is a lot of waiting time on both sides. For example, when the customer is looking for the ID, when a device is rebooted for troubleshooting, or when the agent is looking for information in the company’s systems. With asynchronous messaging, the other side does not have to wait for it.
And as customers become more accustomed to asynchronous messaging apps like Messenger, Teams, Slack, and WhatsApp, they are happy with the experience.
Asynchronous messaging tools can also include natural language processing and AI tools that help extract sentiment from messages and define which requests need to be answered first.
3. You Boost Agent Satisfaction
According to some studies, agents have up to three times more time to respond to concerns before their CSAT scores are negatively impacted when using asynchronous messaging compared to standard live chat. This means that in a fast-paced CX environment, your agents have significantly less pressure to respond to unreasonable expectations.
If you use automated messaging to automatically tell your customers how long they may have to wait for a response, you can give your agents even more leeway. In addition, many asynchronous messaging communications begin with a conversation with a virtual agent or chatbot. This way, issues that customers can resolve on their own can be sorted before they are routed to an employee.
You might find that doing so significantly reduces the number of repetitive tasks that get passed on to your team members, making it easier for them to respond to the customers who need them most. In addition, typically have more concurrent conversations that are completed faster, with fewer diversions and escalations.
Does Your Team Need Asynchronous Messaging?
As customer expectations continue to evolve and demands on customer service representatives continue to increase, asynchronous messaging could be the key to achieving the CX outcomes your organization is striving for. Adding smart asynchronous messaging strategies to your customer service strategy can help your team become more productive and achieve better CSAT results.
In addition, asynchronous messaging has a positive impact on your workforce by improving satisfaction and engagement across your entire team. Contact Bulb Tech today to learn what this technology can do for you.