Business Messaging comprises two broad categories—internal communication amongst an organization’s stakeholders, management, employees, contractors, vendors, etc. and external communication with existing or prospective customers. Due to the meteoric rise of tools like Slack and WhatsApp, organizations have fully embraced messaging for the purpose of internal communication. However, business messaging in the context of customer-facing communication, while no longer a novelty, is still far from being deeply embedded into every department of an organization.
Rapid adoption of Facebook’s Messenger platform has made it evident that businesses, small and big, have warmed up to the idea of communicating with prospects and customers via popular messaging channels. This has paved the way for an ecosystem of messaging platforms and complementary products and services, making it easier for businesses to develop and deploy messaging experiences. However, replacing legacy modes of communication with messaging requires a major shift in mindset throughout an organization. Thereby the question that begs to be answered is, “How can organizations prepare for the future of business messaging?”
1. Make all written content conversation-ready
A lot of written content is created within every company. Marketing, sales and support teams rely heavily on email and it is often the first mode of communication between your company and a prospective customer. But more often than not, emails take the shape of notices or announcements harping bold claims and exaggerated promises. Let’s be honest—today’s savvy consumers don’t give a damn. What they do care about is to be able to respond to an email and initiate a conversation with no inhibitions. It should not take a contact form for a prospect to ask questions about your product or wait for days to get a response, if at all.
Emails and other forms of written content such as website content and ad copy should be able to spark a conversation with the reader. This is possible if every piece of content is created with possible responses in mind and is thereby drafted in a manner that exhibits empathy and invokes the feeling similar to that of receiving a friendly text from an acquaintance. While it sounds simple, crafting such content takes significant effort and the ability to think like a conversation designer.
Conversation Designer? What skills are needed to be one?
Google defines the role of a Conversation Designer as follows:
“The role of a conversation designer is like that of an architect, mapping out what users can do in a space, while considering both the user’s needs and the technological constraints. They curate the conversation, defining the flow and its underlying logic in a detailed design specification that represents the complete user experience. They partner with stakeholders and developers to iterate on the designs and bring the experience to life.”
But in simple words, a conversation designer needs to anticipate possible responses to a piece of content and create follow-up content for each of the anticipated responses. Writing is an obvious skill a conversation designer needs to possess. The less obvious skill is empathy. If you can empathize with your prospects and understand why they are talking to you and what their needs are, only then can you initiate an engaging conversation and eventually turn them into happy customers
Even Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has stated that empathy makes you a better innovator,
2. Document and organize every conversation
The messaging wave is a testimony to the fact that humans prefer texting over calling, even when it comes to communicating with businesses. Therefore it’s no surprise that organizations need to ensure that all customer-facing communication is well documented. It’s no longer enough to invest in call centers and train your support executives using recorded customer conversations.
It’s imminent to create a repository of FAQs with not only the answers but also a repository of follow-up queries with respective answers as well as keywords and a unique keyphrase corresponding to each query. The same is true for articles in your organization’s knowledge base. One must break them down into parts to offer only relevant information and by anticipating what the customer might look for next, include relevant links for further reading.
Example FAQ with follow-up queries and respective answers:
Question: Which package offers the quickest turnaround? Falcon or Cheetah?
Follow-Up Question 1: How much does it cost per month?
Answer: 350 dollars
Follow-Up Question 2: And Cheetah?
Answer: 250 dollars
In the above example, 'fastest package' could be the unique phrase while fastest, quickest, packages and best could be the relevant keywords.
With the above trove of information in place, providing automated answers to customer queries over messaging channels can be effortless and conversational, adding the much-needed human touch that is otherwise missing from most chatbots today.
3. Embrace emojis and GIFs
Business messaging doesn’t need to be boring. Irrespective of size or industry of your organization, communication with customers can be made more interactive and relatable if you speak their language. And in the mobile-first age, everybody loves expressing themselves via emojis and GIFs. This trend is not limited to Millennials or Gen Z; as per Facebook’s statistics, 77% of 56 to 64-year-olds use emojis too. Google’s acquisition of Tenor that saw 12 billion searches every month and Giphy’s 300 million daily active users are both a testimony to the fact that a more casual and friendly approach towards customer communication will pave the way for a winning business messaging strategy.
4. Start a conversation with your links
You might think that the only purpose a link serves is to be added to the end of a message to direct people to where you want them to go. But, by using what’s known as a branded link (or custom short URL), you can configure a link to look less like butt…ly/iw9r2873, and more like YourBrand.is/Better.
Custom URL shorteners like Rebrandly give you the power to make your links into statements, or even add a CTA like YourBrand.support/ContactUs or YourBrand.rocks/DownloadOurEbook to let your users know exactly where you’re sending them and what it is they need to do.
Preparing for the future where messaging is the default mode of communication between businesses and consumers is not just a way to stay ahead in the game and beat the competition, but also the route to offering a superior customer experience and building loyalty.
If you’re looking to build a messaging experience or a multi-channel chatbot, check out Amio’s unified API to deploy faster while reducing development and maintenance costs.