Consumers Widely Frustrated by Business Messaging

Consumers are seeking easier ways to connect with businesses. For businesses, offering a phone number is no longer enough to maximize conversion opportunities when connecting with local customers searching for their products and services. But few businesses are prepared to meet consumers’ demands for quick, convenient communication.

I connected with Jonathan Bean, CMO at Sinch, to discuss the state of business messaging and how businesses can up their game to stay ahead of the times.

Sinch investigated the state of conversations online between businesses and customers. What did you find?

We surveyed over 2,900 consumers globally to find out how brands can employ smarter CX to build sustainable business growth. We found that the majority of people (89%) want to initiate and reply to two-way conversations with businesses via messaging channels and apps. Despite consumers wanting to have more interactions with brands, over half (53%) recalled a frustrating time when they discovered they could not reply to a mobile message sent from a business. Whether it’s asking a question about a product or receiving a shipping update, consumers prefer to have rich experiences that give them the power to take action.

In addition to consumers wanting more control, we found that nearly nine in 10 customers won’t complete transactions with brands they don’t trust. While some brands have deployed some two-way communication, we found that many are still struggling to meet consumers’ expectations — and long wait times are a major contributing factor. We asked our respondents how long it typically takes to get a response from a brand on social media, and nearly one in four people claimed it takes a day or longer.

Businesses have implemented chatbots and other technologies to address online queries. How do these work? How have they fallen short?

Interactions with chatbots are definitely on the rise, with 76% having interacted with one in 2021 (up from 51% in 2020). Depending on the size of your business, you might have several dozen people that you need to communicate with to as many as a thousand or more. Responding quickly with answers that satisfy the consumer can be achieved through the use of artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbots. 

Chatbots are available 24/7, saving organizations time for more personal interactions with the consumer. A consumer can begin a conversation with a chatbot, the chatbot can ask for basic information and understand if the consumer’s question can be answered within the chatbot itself, or if it requires the assistance of a live agent. 

Despite their convenience, chatbots need to be able to mimic the behavior of a live agent. If chatbots aren’t fully equipped with the language and knowledge to handle common questions and inquiries, then they won’t provide the level of service that customers need. Chatbots that use proprietary AI and natural language processing (NLP) algorithms allow you to have more human-like interactions with customers, which ultimately increases satisfaction and efficiency. 

What technologies can businesses implement to better communicate with customers online?

Investing in a trusted CPaaS platform is key to making authentic connections with your customers in their preferred channel — whether it’s through SMS, MMS, RCS, social apps, email, etc. Using a CPaaS provider offers a quick and efficient  integration with multiple communication channels via a single, programmable API. Companies must focus on genuine conversations with their customers — asking questions, understanding their customers needs, and offering highly personalized experiences. While personalized engagement relies on one-to-one communications, handling this at scale can easily be achieved with the right CPaaS technology. 

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Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Joe is an ad/martech veteran who has covered the space since 2015 and regularly consults with companies in the space on content and communications. You can contact him at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.