Most companies translate real-time communications to “system-triggered notifications”. Think shipping updates, taxi approaching SMSs, cancelled flight emails.
All very useful in their own right. But if that’s where your real-time communications start and stop, you’re missing out. You’re sitting at the wheel of a Ferrari 360 Modena and using it to drive to the supermarket in peak hour.
Here are 5 ways to revolutionize the customer experience with real-time communications:
1. Pre-emptive help
Track incomplete customer journeys and reach out with a call or email to offer help. This could be failure to complete an online introduction tutorial or not saving a job in a new software package a week after purchase. These customers are likely lost if you don’t reach out to offer help, so the return on this investment is easy to justify.
2. Customer-initiated communications
As opposed to system-triggered communication that is. You can set up real-time communications to be triggered by a customer action. Some examples:
Customers sending SMS containing keyword ‘Grand final’ to be placed on a ticket pre-sales shortlist for premium members.
Spoken keywords to connected home devices such as Amazon Alexa; Just ask Alexa for a product such as coffee, and Alexa will suggest a popular coffee brand and cost. Saying “yes” will place the order!
Customers love these interactions for their instant gratification. And the fact they asked for it! It’s on their terms, which makes it exceptional in business-to-consumer (B2C) communications.
3. Failover communications
System-triggered communications are the most responsive way to get messages sent in a timely manner from a critical event. But what if your direct debit failure email ends up in a junk folder? What if your planned internet outage notification goes unread?
Unfortunately, customers award zero points for trying to do the right thing.
You have to have a plan B. Automate it. If the email goes unopened, trigger a call or send an SMS. Likewise, if the call goes unanswered after 3 retries, send an SMS. It’s the difference between a great customer experience and a complete service failure.
4. Use 2-way communications
The difference between one-way and two-way is the difference between communication and conversation. One-way message ‘blasts’ are old thinking. In a marketing context, they can feel spammy. In a notification context, they can be outright damaging if the notification is negative without an reply path available.
Case in point; a technician callout SMS advising when you need to be home. “A technician will visit your property between 12pm and 5pm.” If this doesn’t suit, or if it is a change from the original scheduling there has to be a way to reach out. If your serious about customer experience, offer to call them to reschedule via a reply SMS keyword.
5. Communicate directly with customers’ products
The age of cutting the customer out is upon us. Smart, connected devices and cheap data enable you to transform the customer experience by cutting out customers completely.
An email reminder about an upcoming car service used to be the benchmark in automotive customer service. Tesla now pushes out updates over the air without any input required from the customer. Nest Thermostats will learn your habits, and use a motion sensor to automatically adjust the temperature. Goji home security units can trigger lights, or take a photo of someone at the front door and send it to you if required.
This is the new world of Internet of Things (IoT) and it presents a whole new spectrum of opportunities for real time communications.
So if your company has come to think of ‘real-time communications’ as merely ‘system-generated notifications’, you need to start the conversation to take your customer experience to the next level.
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