TREND: Conversation-based Engagement Strategies in Financial Services & How to Create Them
The Exponential Growth of Messaging & What It Means for Financial Services
Conversational messaging has taken off in part due to recent shifts in mobile usage habits. As messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, and WeChat have become increasingly popular, consumers are spending the majority of their mobile screen time on these conversational platforms. This shift has been well documented in publications and articles everywhere.
A recent Business Intelligence report found that messaging platforms have surpassed social media networks in popularity and engagement. Facebook Messenger alone boasts one billion monthly active users, and the top three messaging platforms attract over three billion users daily.
Brands from tech behemoths to small upstarts recognize the earning potential that messaging platforms offer because of the swift access they give consumers to the stuff they want. One standout example is the coupling of messaging and social apps with payments. For at least the last 5 years, peer-to-peer payments services have been on the rise with apps like Venmo setting the stage for look-alike capabilities to be built into Wells Fargo and Bank of America apps. You can now make purchases on Instagram, and Uber has partnered with Facebook Messenger to allow users to request a ride directly within a message window.
There is no avoiding it, conversational commerce will only grow in prevalence. What does this mean for financial services? It means the tools they are a-changing. Given the vast opportunity it holds, forward-thinking financial services brands have begun investing in messaging technology so they can keep up with the conversation.
So… What is a Conversation-Based Engagement Strategy?
A conversation-based engagement strategy is, as the name suggests, one where customer interactions go from transaction to conversation.
One of the ways financial services brands can incorporate a conversation-based engagement strategy is by deploying chatbots and two-way SMS. Studies have increasingly shown that having someone to talk to, even if that “someone” is a bot, has a profound impact on customer satisfaction rates.
Messaging tools such as chatbots can address immediate customer issues like loan refinancing and applications or warnings about incoming fees and low bank balances. These are all issues that anyone with a bank account runs into at some point. Simple things, such as receiving immediate responses to questions when they arise, are part of feeling like a well-cared-for customer. And that’s the goal of a conversational strategy.
At its core, the rules of conversation dictate that two parties give and take, listen and react to feel understood. A conversational engagement strategy mimics this sense of mutual respect and lets customers walk away from interactions with the same net positive.
Similarly, chatbots and conversational texting can soften the blow of hard to swallow truths.
For instance, messaging tools can be used to give credit scores, credit card, or loan application results. A chatbot can feel personal and discreet, sparing the customer from any potential embarrassment or “public” rejection. Agents, though great at their jobs, are only humans at the end of the day. And humans tend to shy away from conflict and dislike giving “bad” news. So when it comes to letting customers know about the negative stuff, sometimes the job is better left to a bot or automated messaging service.
On the flip side, an SMS follow-up from an agent can be reassuring, personalized and automatically triggered using a two-way messaging strategy that is carefully crafted to enhance an event like this. Perhaps that customer isn’t eligible for the loan or credit card yet, but with two-way SMS an agent can start a conversation to provide coaching on how to get there.
What Do You Need to Create a Conversational Strategy?
The best place to start with a conversational strategy is with a chatbot. Find a contact center solution that offers both a chatbot capability and two-way SMS but gives you the flexibility to choose these services a la carte so you can progress at your own speed.
Finally, part of designing a conversational strategy is having a smooth way to transition from chatbot messaging to a human agent. When a customer reaches the end of the chatbot’s abilities, they shouldn’t have to find themselves starting over. This creates needless friction and defeats the purpose of a conversation-based engagement initiative. You can set chatbots up to automatically connect to a live agent once the bot reaches its bandwidth. With all-in-one platforms that offer connected channels, the text conversation that took place via bot can become a conversation with an agent without the customer even knowing the transition occurred!
Back in 2018, Gartner predicted that 25% of customer service interactions will involve conversational technologies by 2020. This is proving to be a bit more aspirational than factual, however. In our recent 2020 Omnichannel Engagement Insights Report, we found that 34% of financial services brands are still struggling to effectively deploy seamless multichannel digital experiences. This is large because brands are unsure of how best to integrate their channels. That’s why it’s a no-brainer to choose all-inclusive solutions that take the guesswork out of integrating backend and frontend and work seamlessly alongside existing systems.
The Competition is Getting Steeper
A new generation of digital disruption is on the rise. As of 2019, smart speakers and voice assistants were in 150 million American households. The allure of virtual assistant technologies like Alexa and the Google Assistant continues to dazzle the consumer space and are even making inroads into the enterprise world with solutions like Alexa for Business.
The crossover potential is driving increased customer, and now possibly even agent, expectations around what instant and seamless means.
It’s high time then that financial services brands invest in emerging technologies like chatbots, RPA, and machine learning lest they are trampled on by their more agile, digitally-savvy competitors. Financial services brands are well aware of the urgency to adapt. We found that 43% of you are interested in or currently pursuing AI and RPA solutions. Now it’s just a matter of actually investing in them.
Only by adapting to this new era of conversational engagement will financial services brands succeed in building loyalty and growing their business in a market where consumer choice reigns king.
But Where Are Bots & SMS Actually Appropriate You Ask?
While a chatbot or virtual assistant may not be appropriate for every interaction or use case as we covered earlier in this article, bots or two- way messaging can be deployed damn near everywhere. Here are just a few examples off the top of my head:
- On-demand support and self-service
- New customer onboarding
- Basic outreach, upselling, and preventive interactions
- Structured, predictable reminders
- Instances, where opening an app or logging online, is too slow or cumbersome (Ever been in a cavernous department store wanting to check your bank balance before splurging but the Wifi is c-r-a-w-l-i-n-g? Text me my balance, please and thank you!)
Chatbots, two-way SMS, and conversational messaging set the stage for consistent engagement, smarter, more personalized interactions, and even open up the possibility of upselling new solutions.
The Future of Conversational Engagement
Financial services have changed dramatically in the last decade. As technology has evolved, brands have continuously redefined the relationship between themselves and their customers. Now, conversational engagement is redefining this relationship yet again, bringing two-way interactions and personal touch back to digital banking. We’ve come full circle, but with a futuristic flair!
While still in its infancy within the world of financial services, conversational engagement is on its way to becoming an industry standard that will only become more widespread and sophisticated as more brands leverage it and, more importantly, learn to leverage it well.
Because of increasing overlaps between B2C and B2B technologies, today’s consumers expect world-class digital experiences from end-to-end and messaging not only helps meet these expectations but also provides significant advantages to brands that are early adopters.
Messaging opens the door to conversations. Through the power of conversation, brands can establish relationships in the digital world that carry over to every interaction well after the chat window has closed.
LiveVox is a leading provider of enterprise cloud contact center solutions, managing more than 14+ billion interactions a year across a multichannel environment. With over 15 years of pure cloud expertise, we empower contact center leaders to drive effective