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customer experience

4 Business Communications Tactics for a Better Customer Experience

Insights on how to have a better customer experience from Anusha Venkat, Senior Product Manager for Plivo, a messaging API.

Businesses have worked hard to adapt to changes the pandemic brought with it.

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In most cases, companies have been forced to reevaluate and change their entire customer experience strategy.

As life starts to return to normal, business leaders must now grapple with how to extend these changes for what will effectively be a hybrid—a mixture of remote and in-person—way of conducting business:

  • Retail: stores closed to in-person shopping, new curbside pickup and delivery options, supply chain issues, shipping and logistic challenges.
  • Hospitality: bans on indoor dining, menu updates to accommodate delivery and takeout, event cancellations, restaurant and venue closures, and reservation updates to adhere to capacity limits (confirmations via SMS).
  • Medical: telehealth becoming the norm, appointment scheduling and screenings, limited waiting room capacity, staffing shortages, and real-time communication channels between hospital employees (administrative staff, nurses, doctors).
  • Banking: disruption of in-person banking, website and in-app chat for faster customer resolution using Conversational AI, more advanced IVR menus to intelligently route calls and reduce handling time or give callers the option of receiving either a callback, switch to chat, or text, rather than wait in line.
  • Education: move to virtual learning, teachers using virtual numbers as a proxy for their real phone numbers, sending SMS messages to notify parents and students of any changes in the calendar year.
  • Travel: schedule cuts, passenger limits, and preflight health screenings.

If there’s one thing companies that survived these changes have in common, it’s communication.

Through strong communications flows exceptional customer service; it’s time now to consider if these strategies are adaptable to a hybrid way of life and, more generally, to the possibility of future changes.

Keep on Texting

SMS notifications are a great way to keep in regular contact with customers, especially when things get topsy-turvy – and it allows for proactive customer communication, which is crucial for keeping customers engaged, satisfied and loyal.

According to Zipwhip’s State of Texting Report 2021, 83% of consumers received a text message from a business last year, 58% say texting is the fastest way to reach them, and 63% say their texting app is their most frequently used messaging tool.

Here’s the real head-turner: Almost two-thirds of customers would switch to a company that offered text messaging as a communication channel.

Why does something as simple as text messaging keep customers coming back for more? Texting enables organizations to connect quickly with customers while keeping those interactions personalized and actionable. SMS notifications help companies build personal connections with customers, save both employees and customers time, automate the customer experience, and easily collect customer feedback to continually improve the experience.

Turn the dial to Omnichannel

Text messaging offers unparalleled open rates and high response rates, however it is but one form of communicating with customers and a customer experience that relies on just one communications channel will likely fail. Today’s customers demand swift responses, engaging interactions, and to be spoken to when and where they prefer. Businesses who want to delight and retain these customers must take an omnichannel approach to communications.

Consider two companies. The first company charges $100 per month for its product but only interacts with customers via text messages. The second company charges $150 per month but enables on-site webchats, text messages, email interaction, and even in-app communications. Customers are more likely to choose the company that offers the seamless experience across multiple communications channels.

Offer Self-service

A major component of omnichannel strategies is self-service offerings, because some customers prefer to do things themselves. One prominent self-service tool companies use is interactive voice response (IVR). These platforms can act as a virtual receptionist while giving customers control of the interaction. The best part of IVR is that it, in true omnichannel fashion, can route calls to human agents if necessary.

These systems are also often integrated with other platforms, such as CRMs, that companies use to keep their sales funnels in order. With an IVR backbone, organizations can build a customer experience that includes everything from self-service bill pay and appointment scheduling to automatically routed inquiries and notifications on customer-selected channels.

Have a Reliable Backup

Where the customer experience is concerned, fallback channels or platforms are absolutely crucial. Take two-factor authentication as an example. Every 2FA voice and SMS one-time password (OTP) message must be delivered as quickly as possible. Though SMS is very reliable, it can be subject to delayed or dropped delivery, thanks to snags such as high network loads, unreliable carriers in some countries, and a host of other issues.

Organizations should implement a fallback authentication channel that doesn’t require passcodes, such as voice messages. When SMS authentication fails, voice has the same advantages of ubiquity and intuitive use that SMS offers. Carrier networks also prioritize voice traffic, because those calls must sync immediately.

The same benefits of voice fallback apply to other types of SMS alerts and notifications. If a business needs to support multiple markets, setting up voice notifications to support different languages can greatly enhance the customer experience. 

Be Nimble, be Quick

If 2020 taught businesses anything, it was the importance of being nimble when it comes to the customer experience. What began as a two-week disruption turned into a year-long metamorphosis of entire business models and customer interactions. Businesses had to adapt, to ensure their experiences were seamless and available to customers on their terms, even amid unprecedented disruption. Leveraging some of these tactics as the underpinnings of a customer experience offering will help businesses improve their agility and ensure smooth service even when the next crisis strikes.

About the Author, Anusha Venkat: Anusha is the Senior Product Manager for Plivo’s messaging API where she leads the development of Plivo’s next-generation messaging technology platform. Anusha is an experienced and innovative senior technology leader with experience in communications, fintech, internet retail, and commerce services. She has previously held product and technology roles at PayPal, Amazon, eBay & JIO.

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