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Customer Experience and Design

Making Customer Service Conversational for Your Customers

Making Service Conversational Requires Investments in Self-Service

Customers are increasingly impatient and want immediate answers to their problems or questions. Using self-service channels as a first point-of-contact is a great way for service organizations to alleviate some of the demands on your contact center while executing against the ongoing need to deliver an exceptional customer experience. However, customer service technology investments generally lag behind customer demands, and as a result, there’s an increased need to invest in platforms that enable omni-channel service capabilities.

I recently had a chance to sit down with two of our Service Cloud experts, Devin Ingersoll and Shawn Jensen, to talk about two customer service solutions in particular from Salesforce, LiveMessage and Live Agent, which are designed to help make service more conversational for customers. We covered key features for both, similarities and differences, common use cases we see, and implementation best practices.

Live Agent 101

Live chat provides an easy and effective way to provide immediate internet-based assistance at the right stage of every customer interaction. There are a number of scenarios where service organizations can choose to use a tool like Salesforce Live Agent. Live Agent is great for organizations who have a limited size support team but need to maximize productivity. It’s also a great way to cut customer support costs or provide a differentiated digital customer experience. It can be used prior to a purchase to reduce shopping cart abandonment or resolve customer issues post-purchase.

Q: What’s a good industry use case or benefit of using Live Agent?

Retailers with an e-commerce website are a perfect fit for implementing Live Agent. As consumers browse they often have additional questions before choosing to purchase a particular product. Adding live chat helps reduce shopping cart abandonment and increases customer satisfaction by reducing response times and making them feel more comfortable having a casual conversation with one of your agents. In a self-service community setting, customers can login to get a quick answer to something without having to wait for a case to be responded to. As a member logged into a community, agents can quickly gather information about the customer to better assist them and deliver a more personalized experience from within the community.

Beyond the fact that customers do not like speaking to agents on the phone, from an organizational perspective, call centers can be extremely expensive to operate. Live Agent not only provides that instant communication that consumers want but also allows agents to manage multiple conversations at once – which is a huge win-win for any service organization! Secondly, Live Agent also offers another way for you to share knowledge articles which can’t easily be accomplished on the phone or a mobile device. For one of our Salesforce customers, MINDBODY, they chose to implement Live Agent because it allows them to have better flexibility and control over their hours of service and notifying customers when agents are offline.

Q: What’s the downside to using Live Agent for a business?

As customers continue to go mobile, having a separate browser window for chatting with a customer service representative can get lost while using other mobile apps or moving to a different screen on their smartphone. The other downside is that Live Agent isn’t mobile optimized either and requires the customer to (generally) be on their main desktop to navigate a support site or support community, so the user experience is not always ideal in every situation. However, approximately 72% of customers still prefer to use a company’s website to get answers to their questions as opposed to phone or email, so having a live chat function is still something we highly recommend to our Salesforce customers.

LiveMessage 101

Did you know that messaging is the #1 communication channel on mobile devices with a response rate 5x higher than any other channel? In response to this statistic, Salesforce recently announced its latest addition to the customer service technology toolbox with the introduction of LiveMessage. LiveMessage provides an enterprise grade, end-to-end mobile messaging solution fully integrated with Service Cloud. The ability to take a “chat” function, like Live Agent, over to a mobile experience to include social has some clear advantages for service organizations. But before we dive into other specifics, here’s a summary of LiveMessage’s key features:

  • Conversation routing
  • Configurable auto-responses and screen pops
  • Conversation history saved in Salesforce
  • Outbound messaging via Campaigns
  • Chatbot and LiveMessage Responses
  • Omni-channel integration
  • Custom object support

For brands that already offer mobile apps, the addition of a “textual” based mobile messaging experience provides another means of communication for tech savvy users that dread the thought of having to pick up the phone and contact your call center.

Salesforce has stated that customers using LiveMessage have experienced the following results:

  • saved 50% over the cost of voice calls
  • realized 10x agent utilization rate over phone calls
  • shifted nearly 20% of phone calls to SMS
  • increased response rate
  • improved CSAT scores
  • proactive and increased customer engagement

Q: Does LiveMessage offer any integrations to other popular mobile messaging apps?

Technology has revolutionized communication. As such, consumers are redefining what communication means in the context of service, how they expect brands to interact with them, and through what service channels. Salesforce recognizes that SMS messaging isn’t the only way to make service conversational. Over-the-top (OTT) messaging services like WhatsApp, Skype, or Facebook Messenger have become increasingly popular. The rise in popularity of social customer care via OTT services can also be attributed to the success of mobile technology. LiveMessage can also be integrated with popular mobile messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and displays both SMS and Messenger texts for your support agents directly within the Service Console. Your service team benefits from the standard LiveMessage features, in addition to fun consumer features such as picture messaging (think gifs, stickers and emojis) to make service even more conversational for Millennials.

Q: Is LiveMessage available for both Classic and Lightning view?

Yes, LiveMessage works in both views. Since it is designed to work directly within the Service Console it is limited to Service Cloud today, but Salesforce may potentially integrate it with the Sales Cloud Console or other areas of the platform (Safe Harbor).

Determining What Solution is Right For You

Q: For service organizations considering some form of live chat support feature, what should they keep in mind when evaluating both Salesforce solutions?

LiveMessage may not be right for every service organization for two reasons. One, they have to have a fairly unique customer base that is attracted to mobile applications for communication, which generally, tends to be a somewhat younger demographic. Secondly, not all industries may be ripe for a SMS or OTT messaging service like LiveMessage depending on the type and level of complexity of cases they handle for customers on a daily basis. Some support issues just cannot simply be resolved over text message. Spend some time thinking about who your customers are, analyzing support data about how your customers engage with you, and what types of support cases make sense to offload to a service like LiveMessage.

Q: What challenges might a service organization face when implementing LiveMessage?

User adoption of a new service channel like LiveMessage could be tough if you haven’t done the proper analysis of whether or not your customer base is a good fit or there may be some resistance. You also need to take the time to properly educate and provide adequate communication to your customers that this new service exists. Consider involving your marketing team to help find the proper way and level of communication you may need.

Your customer community is also a great place to share news and host brief video tutorials, and thus, expands your use of Community Cloud as a self-service channel. Depending on how savvy your customers are, you may also want to have multiple messaging types which increases the complexity of the implementation and often requires an experienced Salesforce partner to help guide you. Using Process Builder to manage alerts (action items routed to agents in the Service Console), omni-channel integration, and the use of chat bots are where things can get complicated.

Some things to think about from an organizational perspective:

  • current Live Agent users will likely have a much easier time transitioning agents, versus a service team that isn’t currently using a web chat application today
  • provide the proper training for your support agents and develop communication standards for engaging via text message
  • consider having dedicated agents to use LiveMessage (omni-channel routing is supported)
  • anticipate that there’s likely going to be a learning curve for new users and your agents (you may initially see slower handle times)

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Elizabeth Dias

Elizabeth Dias is an experienced technology marketing strategist focused on the financial services and retail industry at Perficient. With over nine years of experience as a professional business-to-business (B2B) marketer, Elizabeth is knowledgeable in technology strategies for the financial services industry focusing on mobile banking and payments, data analytics, and enterprise information management. She also closely follows the fintech community as well as tech trends in social and digital, and is also an active blogger and thought leader on Twitter (@techmktggirl).

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