Optimise your webcare (online customer support) via messaging channels like WhatsApp

Marieke • 7 minute read
Online customer service
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The ultimate guide to personal customer contact via messaging channels like Whats App and live chat

Webcare has become commonplace for most organisations. Not only commercial companies, but also governments now know that you need to be present on your customer’s favourite channels, meaning online as well. But that doesn’t mean we’re there yet, since a lot is still happening within webcare! One-to-one messaging via channels such as WhatsApp, live chat, Facebook Messenger, Google’s Business Messages, Instagram DM, and Twitter DM is on the rise. We even dare say that we’re on the brink of a major shift in which complete customer journeys will eventually be completed from start to finish via messaging.

In this white paper, we’ll go into all this further. We’ll update you on the latest events and elaborate on what’s in store for us in the near future. This will enable you to get the most out of WhatsApp and Messenger and go for the most optimal use of webcare (online customer support) within your customer service.

1. The future lies in one-on-one customer contact via messaging and WhatsApp!

Consumers are constantly looking for convenience. Is there a question or complaint? Then they prefer one-on-one attention and, if possible, they want it right away. Organisations know this by now and are fully committed to making it comfortable, personal, and easy for the customer. Fortunately, messaging offers the solution!

Research agency Newcom once again conducted research into social media and messaging use among the Dutch in 2021. These channels are used by more and more people and more and more frequently. WhatsApp stands out above the rest with more than 12 million users. The adaptation of messaging channels by consumers is progressing rapidly. As an organisation, make sure that you base your channel mix on those channels that your customer uses. But in general, you’ll do great with WhatsApp!

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Research from Zendesk shows that of all companies that added channels to their channel mix last year, 53% chose messaging channels. In addition, it turned out that companies that have the shortest turnaround time and the highest satisfaction scores are precisely those that communicate with their customers via messaging.

2. What should you think about before starting with messaging?

Think you’re ready to expand your customer channels? Then don’t forget to ask yourself what you want to achieve by adding messaging channels to your contact strategy. And remember that once you start with messaging, it will also demand some practical discussions from your organisation. For example, do you want to be more accessible or help your customers faster? Or do you hope to generate more sales? Messaging channels are ideally suited for personal and accessible service but require a faster response time than a channel such as e-mail.

Rutger den Toom of the Municipality of Goes adds another important point: “Some channels are less user-friendly for specific target groups than others. For example, people with intellectual disabilities find it more difficult to reach us through the traditional channels. Composing the right kind of email can be more challenging for this target group than sending a simple WhatsApp. Because the threshold for contacting the municipality must be low, WhatsApp is a very suitable communication channel for this specific target group. WhatsApp is also simple to use, and it’s also very easy to manage from our side.”

In some cases, it’s also advisable to handle a case by phone, instead of via WhatsApp or Messenger. For example, if it concerns a complex complaint or question. Ultimately, solving the case should be the goal. In order to do this, you need to be able to listen carefully to a customer and take the time to redirect any negative sentiments. So always be critical of which conversation you have on which channel.

So, determine in advance what the KPIs are. What response time, first time fix-rate, volume per channel and availability are you going for? Don’t forget to include customer satisfaction as a KPI. After all, you want your customers to be satisfied with these new channels of customer contact. So, start measuring and analysing your customer contact via your messaging channels immediately on day 1. Because only in this way can you know whether the KPIs you’ve set are being achieved.

3. Need to scale up? Implement chatbots!

Do your customers frequently use the messaging channels to get in touch with you? And are the same simple questions asked often? You should know that scaling up is very easy. Integrating chatbots into your messaging channels, WhatsApp and live chat is quite easy. Not only can chatbots answer simple questions, but they can also be used as work planners. For example, by already requesting an order number from the customer who starts a conversation. Is all the necessary information complete or is a question too difficult for the chatbot? Then a smooth handover to a live employee will follow.

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They’ve already started working with a chatbot at travel organisation Sunweb. André Tuinenburg, Head of Customer Care says: “We’ve added a chatbot to our WhatsApp channel to handle messages efficiently. The chatbot currently does three things; as a host, the bot welcomes the customer in a friendly manner, it answers the first questions and acts as a work planner by requesting the booking number. Although the chatbot is still under development, we see that it can already answer a large part of the frontline questions.”

4. The next step in messaging: conversational commerce

Want to solve questions or complaints via messaging? That’s just the beginning. We’re working towards a situation in which an increasing part of the customer journey will take place on messaging channels. This not only fulfills the need for personal contact, but consumers also get an optimal customer experience. Conversational commerce will become the trend in the coming years. Customers are not only helped via messaging if there are questions or problems, but they’ll also make purchases via messaging.

Alex Slatman, CTO of OBI4wan can already see that the technology is ready for this. “The APIs are already available. Large companies such as Facebook, with WhatsApp and Instagram, Pinterest and Apple are already preparing for this way of customer contact in which organisations help consumers to get to the next step in the customer journey via one-on-one contact. This will bring about major changes in the way in which customer contact is set up. The industry is already slowly working towards this, but the big question is when the consumer will be ready for this.” Trust in organisations and channels will be essential because consumers will eventually also make payments via these one-to-one channels, something they aren’t quite used to yet, according to Alex.

It can’t be long, though. Juniper Research predicts that consumer spending through messaging channels will grow by 590% over the next four years. This research sees an enormous potential of commercial opportunities for organisations. Customer service will therefore no longer be a cost item, or expense, but rather a place where turnover is generated.

5. The benefits of messaging

The use of messaging channels for your webcare, or online customer support, has many advantages. Both in the short and the long term. And both for your organisation and for your customer. We’ve listed the most important benefits for you below:

Benefits for organisations:

  • Handle multiple chats all at once while preserving message history
  • Use sales opportunities: for example, guide your customer through an ordering process via messaging
  • Deploy chatbots for 24/7 service in the case of high volumes
  • All channels clearly arranged in OBI Engage
  • Already prepare for conversational commerce with messaging

Benefits for customers:

  • Real-time service
  • No more waiting
  • Share links, photos, or videos for clarification
  • 24/7 contact if needed
  • Personal and private conversations with organisations
6. Ready for the next step in webcare (online customer support)?

Is your webcare, or online customer support, still in its infancy or are you ready for the next step forward? Great! Because OBI4wan would like to help you along. Do you want to implement just WhatsApp, or do you want to expand your channels and integrate them with our other solutions or those of our partners? We have extensive experience with large and small organisations, with commercial parties and governments, both at home and abroad. Feel free to contact us, with no obligation, via (country code +31) (0)85 210 50 60 or info@obi4wan.com

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Marieke Vermeulen
As Senior Content Marketer at OBI4wan, I take a deep dive into the world of webcare, chatbots and media analytics. With my blogs I want to show customer service employees and marketing and communication professionals how they can make things easier for their customers, but also for themselves.

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