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The internet makes life easier for billions of people around the globe. Mobile devices enable them to buy tickets, order food, and talk to family members from the palm of their hands. And the average internet user spends over six and a half hours online each day with roughly a third of that time devoted to social media.

So it comes as no surprise that apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or Instagram have grown in popularity over the past few years. They connect users with their friends and the world around them. People can enjoy asynchronous conversations spread over hours and even days, sharing messages, photos, videos, links, and voice clips when they want and from any device and location.

Today’s customers want brands to offer equally seamless and asynchronous interactions. Completing a transaction, viewing a product, or scheduling a call shouldn’t be limited by office hours, channels, or languages. People have gotten used to quality standards set by social media and messaging apps.

And if brands want to impress and retain customers, they have to catch up with the new standards and offer support via digital channels where people already spend a lot of their time.

Messaging and listening capabilities of social media

Social media enables brands to listen to, acknowledge, and resolve customer inquiries. Every post, review, check-in, or comment across the digital landscape is yet another opportunity for you to interact with customers and show them they’re being heard. This is also a way to create a community feel, increase brand loyalty, and boost profit.

To achieve this goal, however, you’ll need technology that allows you to monitor social media platforms. If people are saying on Twitter that your product is terrible or complain on Facebook about a missed flight, it’s in your interest to have intelligent software tools that catch those messages so they don’t fall through the cracks and you end up with angry customers. Doing so makes business sense. Research shows that 47% of US consumers have a more favorable opinion about companies that respond to customer service questions or complaints on social media.

Powerful software tools can also classify messages where your business is mentioned and then route them to the right agent. If a customer is complaining about delivery delays, for example, the software will inform your shipping team about it.

Proactively solving customer issues also reduces the pressure on your contact center as the people you helped won’t have to call in to get their problems solved.

More importantly, customers will be impressed by how you handle their complaints and will feel more confident to do business with you.

Digital channels can be used in many ways

As the popularity of social media and messaging apps grows, so does their sophistication. Companies can now increase customer engagement and reduce the drop-off rate by doing transactions, service updates, agent interactions, and many other operations all from within their apps.

Facebook, for instance, offers an array of advanced features. You can book appointments directly through customer chat, using real-time availability from your calendar. Also, you can merge chat data with your CRM and add tags to categorize sent messages. This will reduce the possibility of spam to the user and improve open rates. And by tracking the result of each customer interaction, companies can monitor conversion rates and see the impact of messaging on their business goals.

WhatsApp also comes with powerful features. The app can be used to send tickets, invoices, boarding passes, and various other documents straight to your phone. Its live location tracking is particularly useful for improving delivery services. And instead of exchanging only text-based messages, agents and customers can communicate using different types of rich content such as images, video files, gifs, and more. Such capabilities have prompted businesses to use WhatsApp in various ways, including customer onboarding, product consultations, food ordering, and more. 

Finding a platform that fits your needs

Cloud-based customer engagement platforms make providing support on digital channels much easier. Selecting the one that suits your needs is thus critically important.

The platform of your choice should enable agents to manage multiple social media and messaging apps through a single system instead of switching between various interfaces. Your employees can then be more productive and training costs are reduced.

Also, the platform needs to be able to detect multiple online profiles customers use, such as Facebook or YouTube accounts, and merge them into a single identity. Ideally, the software could also merge this identity with the contact information in your CRM. With such a 360-degree view of each customer, your agents could resolve service issues faster through the most suitable channel.

Artificial intelligence (AI) plays a major role in these efforts. It classifies and routes customer interactions received through emails, live chat, social media, and messaging apps to the agent with relevant skills. Chatbots help in a similar way. They automatically interact with customers and solve simple problems. But if the inquiry is too complex, the chatbot can hand it over to an agent.

Managing all digital engagements on a single platform makes it possible to collect and analyze data from multiple sources to gain additional insights. The analysis can uncover, for instance, which channels customers use the most or what topics trend per channel.

And if you’re planning to up your customer support game by embracing digital channels, the RingCentral Engage Digital platform can be of great value. It can help you serve customers better and faster while making your agents more productive. Learn more about the platform and its advanced features here.

Originally published May 14, 2020, updated Jan 30, 2023

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