Life in a mobile-first digital age is incredibly fast-paced. So much so, that we often forget how much customer engagements have evolved over the last fifty years. We forget that in the early days of business, all communication occurred face to face in-store. And now, things are drastically different.
The arrival of the telephone provided a more convenient way for customers to contact retailers. Ten years ago, email became the communication method of choice. But some businesses frustrated their audience with one-way communication from no-reply email addresses.
Digital savvy shoppers are driving progress forward with their rising expectations and impatience with traditional pain points. Customers now expect to get the right message on the right device at the moment that they need it. But most importantly of all, they increasingly believe that customer service engagement should be as easy as messaging a friend.
Predictably, Apple, Google, and Facebook have all launched business communication products to meet the rising demands of the customers. Experts estimate the number of mobile messaging app users will reach 171.3 million by 2022. In another wake-up call for retailers, they also predict that more than half the US population will use a messaging app by 2022.
There is a long list of companies that failed to adapt to the digital landscape. But with clear predictions of what is waiting on the horizon, there is no longer an excuse for failure and becoming the next Toys R Us or Thomas Cook. Businesses merely need to start thinking bigger when it comes to engaging with customers.
Enter Apple Business Chat
The reality is that complicated call center menus, and mobile apps are the problem rather than the solution. Even though Apple Business Chat has only been around for a couple of years, early adopters are already using the technology in innovative ways.
American Express allows customers to request a replacement card, dispute a charge, get information about their card benefits, and more. Elsewhere, Aramark is leveraging Apple Business Chat and QR codes (which can be easily generated using these best QR code generators) on the back of stadium seats to streamline beer ordering at baseball games.
These are just a few real-world use cases. But when you begin to explore the digital customer journey, it quickly becomes apparent that we are just scratching the surface of the possibilities ahead. Business Chat is designed as a business enabler that helps teams create custom message apps for specialized tasks.
If you are only communicating with your audience by email, you are short-changing them. As the experience economy gathers pace, it’s time to explore the art of the possible where services and communication can be accessed in a smooth and pleasant way. Here are a few examples where Apple Business Chat is helping businesses up their experience game:
- Schedule Appointments: Show your customers a calendar and allow them to choose a time slot for an appointment or delivery.
- Give Directions: Share your location details and automatically show your customers how to get to your store.
- Resolve Issues: Help customers fix problems right in the chat window. Customers can share photos, videos, and URLs to help you diagnose their problems.
- Make Purchases: Apple Pay is integrated with Business Chat so customers can make payments within the conversation.
Transforming customer engagement into an experience that will keep them coming back for more is your end goal. But there will be several challenges to overcome before progressing forward. Hitting the sweet spot of customer engagement will also create problems for your team, who could quickly become overwhelmed by digital communications—unless you’re supported by stellar customer service teamwork.
Contrary to popular belief, artificial intelligence and automation should not be used as an excuse to cut employees. Successful businesses are leveraging emerging technologies such as AI to support human agents and work alongside them, not replace them.
AI-powered technologies can help companies automatically identify the type of incoming messages and automatically escalate to employees when required. Many brands are now using chatbots that handle frontline communication, freeing up employees to focus only on the more nuanced requests.
For example, Google Dialogflow will automatically learn from every interaction. Every day the chatbot will become smarter and more efficient in helping its human colleagues. Everything mentioned in this article is available to businesses here in 2019. Sure, it’s not as easy as plugging in a phone line, but with the right support partner, anything is possible.
Previous generations adapted to the changing business landscape by investing in telephone systems and email. As we prepare for life in 2020, a quick look around your immediate surroundings will reveal that all of your customers are already communicating via messaging apps. If your brand is not present, are you in danger of becoming invisible?
The most used apps on our smartphones are predictably Apple Messages, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. We are already managing our personal and professional lives from a device that never leaves our side. As the experience economy continues to thrive, businesses are increasingly aligning their services to the expectations of their customers.
We already know that mobile messaging will continue to increase at a phenomenal rate. If your competitors were to invest in this technology and create digital experiences for your customers, how long until it becomes their standard expectation? Phone and email communications might have been ‘good enough’ in an analog age, but can you say the same now that everything is digital?
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Originally published Jan 22, 2020, updated Jan 29, 2023