Communication is a crucial component of engaging customers with your brand. The path to the best customer experience goes through your technology and people. Engaging more customers, putting their interests at the center, and investing in the right technology will define the future of your business. Over the past decade, the very definition of customer communication has evolved rapidly. Messaging is one of the most sought-after ways through which brands connect with their customers. When you hear the term messaging, it is natural to think of SMS communication. But it is not the case anymore. Technology is changing the traditional methods of communication, even messaging. Businesses have several choices when it comes to select a messaging channel that engages them with their customers. For example, social media channels, email messaging, and mobile app messaging, etc.
High conversion rate, low customer acquisition costs, increased customer retention rate, and a more positive brand image are the main objectives of every communication channel strategy. Therefore, to stand out from your competitors, it is mandatory to manage all customer communications effectively. This blog highlights the messaging trends businesses should adopt in 2021. Knowing these trends can help you create frictionless customer experiences, enhance the customer journey, improve customer retention, and attract new customers. These all factors play a significant role in the success or failure of any business.
8 Messaging Trends to Follow in 2021
Continued Growth of SMS as a Communication Channel
According to a study, around fifty percent of customers prefer communication over text. Texting is quick, efficient, and takes less time than waiting in a long queue over a phone call. In a phone conversation, customers must endure long hold times, spend time listening to the IVR options, or remember multiple options to forget again later and feel confused. These hurdles only provide an annoying experience to the customer. Therefore, the customer ultimately ends up losing interest in the brand.
SMS marketing is on the rise, helping brands communicate about promotions, sales, and offers to their customers. SMS provides a clean and simple way to customers interested in prompt query resolution. A specific number corresponds to a particular service, and customers can choose from among these options to communicate their issues. This approach helps elevate the customer experience and their trust in the brand. Thus, businesses are likely to continue using SMS services to communicate with customers. Customers prefer text messages over other communication channels. SMS has a 209% higher response rate than a phone, Facebook, or email. Thus, businesses should capitalize on this customer preference and use text messaging for customer support and marketing campaigns.
Benefits of Customer Communication
Excellent customer communication can help your organization by giving you an edge over other businesses in many ways.
Enhances Customer Retention
Regular customer communication gives your customers an insight into your work and builds their trust in your brand and organization. In today’s constantly changing marketplace, frequent customer interactions result in your customers being more inclined to stay with your company in the testing times.
Helps You Offer Customized Services and Products
Bidirectional communication with customers helps you improve and customize your services and products to suit your individual customer’s specific needs, resulting in added customer satisfaction.
Helps You Enhance Your Products and Services
While feedback can be constructive in improving your services to individual consumers, it can also offer you insight into the needs and demands of a large proportion of customers by giving you innovative ideas to improve your products and services.
Enhances Brand Reputation and Popularity
Excellent customer services go a long way to build trust, liking, and loyalty among customers for your brand and company, offering increased upscaling and cross-selling opportunities. According to statistics, the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20% against selling to an existing customer, which is 60-70%. Further, existing customers are 31% more likely to spend and 50% more likely to try new products than new customers. Additionally, your customers are more likely to recommend your products and services in their circle, creating new customer acquisition opportunities.
SMS Integration with other Systems
In addition to SMSs, businesses use other mediums that provide the same benefits as text messaging. SMS integration with other applications empowers organizations to leverage the benefits of all these platforms collectively through a single channel.
This integration enables businesses to leverage data from different platforms, streamline communication between organizations and customers through a single channel, provide better services, and improve customer data management.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have penetrated almost every sector. They have helped simplify many business operations, reducing the dependence on human resources and lowered operating costs while elevating the customer experience. AI and ML, in the form of chatbots for customer assistance and messaging, are not new. Nearly all businesses are using them across various sectors, and their usage is likely to grow in 2021.
Around fifty percent of businesses have planned to spend on chatbots rather than mobile apps. Why? Because chatbots have capabilities to reduce operational costs by almost thirty percent, proving highly beneficial to businesses. This approach is helpful for start-ups and SMEs who want to connect with their customers using affordable options.
Some of the benefits of using chatbot communication for customers include:
- They operate 24*7 without any breaks. Hence, they provide real-time information to customers.
- Reduces the pressure on marketing and customer service staff as chatbots send automated messages or autonomously reply to customer queries.
- Long-term financial savings
Customers prefer chatbots and other automated systems over human interaction. As per research, sixty-seven percent of customers prefer approaching a bot to resolve their issues instead of human beings. AI chatbots will continue to dominate customer messaging and interactions, and as a business owner or decision-maker, you should implement a
Automated Text Messages
Automation is everywhere, and text messages are no exception. Businesses are slowly but steadily adopting automated messaging (SMS) to improve their clients or customer experience. You can leverage automation to send confirmation, cancellation, or reminder messages to customers. This approach will reduce your efforts and help you deliver an SMS in time. According to a study, 77% of customers appreciate organizations that use text messages to keep them informed. Thus, it should not come as a surprise when these trigger-based automated text messages are used more often during this year and in the years that follow.
Verified SMS by Google
Businesses send hundreds and even thousands of messages daily to their customers. However, it can sometimes be difficult for the customer to trust these messages due to increased smishing incidents. Businesses often use multiple numbers to send messages which further reduces the trust of the customer. To mitigate this issue, Google has developed a verified SMS feature. A verified SMS verifies the brand identity on a per-message basis, helping increase customer trust. Google scrutinizes the message to let customers know that the text message is genuine and is safe to open. Verified messages have the business logo, name, and a verification badge in the message thread for authentication. A business will have to register the phone number used to send such messages through a messaging provider partner.
This service is currently available in nine countries, including India, and will get rolled out in other countries in the future. This solution is efficient. Businesses are highly likely to adopt this SMS communication medium with their customers to increase customer engagement and potential sales.
OTT Messaging Apps
Over-the-top (OTT) messaging apps are instant messaging services provided by third-party enterprises. They serve as an alternative to traditional SMS services offered by mobile network operators. The growth in smartphone users and increased availability of internet services on these devices have led to the rise of OTT messaging apps. Apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Line, and WeChat have become popular among the masses and provide businesses a simple medium to connect with their customers.
One of the significant advantages of OTT messaging apps is the number of global customers that businesses can reach through these mediums. Secondly, the chat-like nature of these apps helps improve customer engagement. It delivers information in one of the fastest, most reliable, and cost-effective ways possible. Lastly, businesses can get direct feedback from their customers with these apps and improve their services.
The concept of Rich Communication Services (RCS) messaging has been around since 2007. It is a next-generation SMS protocol supported by GSMA, Google, Android, and many network carriers and smartphone manufacturers. It was not only until a decade later that the RCS protocol was finalized and started seeing large-scale rollout. RCS is a replacement for SMS and MMS services. It eliminates the limitations of these two features using the phone’s data connection instead of the cellular network.
RCS can enable businesses to connect with their customers without the need for OTT messaging apps while delivering the same user experience. They can send notifications, PDFs, high-definition photos and videos, and audio messages to their RCS customers. It also enables the suggested replies, actions, and feedback feature found in OTT messaging apps. So why prefer RCS over OTT messaging? In simple words, RCS has the capability of becoming what iMessage is to iPhone users, enabling seamless exchange of text and media information between users without the need for any third-party app.
SMS as a Brand Marketing Channel
While we have seen the use of texts for sales, customer service, and even customer retention until now, the coming years will see it rise as a brand marketing channel. Organizations say that emailing is their best ROI marketing channel. But the primary issue with email marketing is that your emails may end up in spam. Also, emails are usually left unread.
SMS messages cost much less than email marketing. Also, unlike emails that may end up in the spam folder, texts will always instantly reach the intended target audience. Moreover, the best part of SMS marketing is that your customers’ smartphones will remind them of the unread messages until they read them. Thus, texts will likely be read and increase the chances of engagement and conversion.
These are the top eight messaging trends we expect will rule 2021. In this digital era, customers connect with businesses more than ever before. As technology and customer needs and expectations evolve in the future, we will see new trends emerging, trends that will shape customer communication and messaging. That said, SMS communication will remain an integral part of communication for enterprises across the globe.