The customer engagement and telemarketing industries have experienced a lot of change over the last 12 months. The political atmosphere of the FTC, call blocking and spam alerts from the most widely used carriers, and the demand for omni-channel care from customers - it's been a turbulent year with many highs and lows for us all. But we made it.
It's time now to look forward to a new year and what better way to kick off 2018 than to make a few predictions about what the year will have in store for us. We got our Incept Results team together to talk about our thoughts for the year to come and realized that there was one overwhelming theme to our predictions:
2-Way Text for Customer Engagement Will Explode In 2018.
A growing number of companies will encourage customers to pick up their phones the next time they need assistance, but not to make a phone call. To send an SMS text message.
Here are a few things you should keep in mind if you want to take part in this exciting channel for customer engagement.
Text Is The Most Popular Channel for Communication
According to Gallup, “sending and receiving text messages is the most prevalent form of communication for American adults under 50.” Needless to say, there has been growing interest in this means of communication for customer service providers for quite some time, but surprisingly, many brands have yet to transition. 2018 will be the year to do it.
Transition From 1-way to 2-way Text
Many companies are already using text as a channel for 1-way marketing notifications, but many have yet to transition to 2-way text for customer service. Some believe that email or social media are easier channels than text for customer service, but others have opted to run at the channel head first.
Earlier this year, Hawaiian Airlines began testing text-based customer service and because of its success, has decided to make the channel permanent. Currently, it handles about 200 texts a day, 70% of which are inquiries that "don't involve itineraries or the carrier's HawaiianMiles program," so they appear to be quite conversational in nature.
Use The Right Lingo
If you're going to enter the 2-way text game, you need to make sure you're corresponding the way your audience expects. That means emojis and GIFs count as proper text English :-)
Emojis, those funny smiley faces that seem to convey emotions better than words, are a very important aspect of text message communication between millennials, and now marketers. In fact, emoji use in mobile marketing has grown by 775% in the period from 2013 to 2017. And according to Reuters, more than 84% of communication in 2018 will be visual.
Consistency Across Channels
More than half of all consumers engage with companies on more than one channel to get a customer service-related issue resolved, and 61% of customers report being unable to easily switch from one channel to another.
An omni-channel customer experience is a requirement of customers in 2018, so if you start a conversation through text message, be prepared to use technology that allows for that conversation to continue through any other channel - voice, email, or even social media.
Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots
While 2018 may be the year of live-person 2-way text for customer engagement, automated responses from chatbots using artificial intelligence is not far behind.
According to LivePerson, up to 70% of customer service inquiries could one day be responded to in an automated fashion because they typically revolve around 60-80 very common questions. Becuase of the predictable nature of these inquiries coupled with the simplicity of addressing many of them, we think tackling the text message and chatbot game in 2018 might be the best approach to growing your customer engagement organization.