Excellent customer service can be the differentiator between a good business and a great one. According to a study by NewVoiceMedia, companies stand to lose $62 billion per year due to poor customer service, and this issue affects businesses of all sizes and industries.
Responsive and reliable communication is one of the most important criteria in crafting a superb customer experience. But thorough and customized communication can be expensive and time-consuming.
Indeed, most mid-sized businesses lack the bandwidth to create each individual client communication or respond manually to every inquiry. This is where automation comes into play.
Whether your clients prefer to communicate with your business via text message, email, or another tool, there are multiple options for automating many of your external communications.
Below, you can find some of the most important steps to take when crafting your automated communications plan.
1. Determine Communication Points
There are multiple reasons why a business may wish to communicate with a client, including responding to inquiries, sending appointment reminders, welcoming a new client, sending order notifications, and managing invoices.
The first step is to determine what type of information your business communicates most often, which platforms should be used to send this information, and how these platforms can be adapted for automation.
For example, a restaurant chain that offers delivery may want to send automatic text messages when an order is received and when it goes out for delivery. Or, an online retailer may want to send an email or text message when payment is received.
Also, financial services firms, healthcare systems, and any other client-facing industries may want to streamline their process of gathering and reporting on customer data using automated workflows. With GDPR now in effect, properly collecting and communicating with customers the information is even more critical.
It is important to analyze your business offerings, detect your customer touchpoints, and figure out the best opportunities to “set it and forget it.”
2. Set up Trigger-Based Messages
Automated communications aren’t just sent out of the blue; there needs to be an action that triggers the communication. Triggers can lead to one-off communications, an onboarding series, or a special offer with the goal of re-engagement.
One-time communication: Examples of one-time-only triggers in action could be a retailer sending a message (email or text) to confirm receipt of an online order and a delivery timeline, or a hospital sending automated text reminders 24 hours in advance of a previously scheduled appointment.
Onboarding series: An onboarding series is aimed at educating customers about your product or service and developing deeper engagement. It often starts with a welcome message for creating an online account, ordering a product, requesting information, or subscribing to an email or text notification list.
A series of messages might be sent at specific intervals with the goal of staying relevant and fresh in the customer’s mind. It can also be dynamic based on the activities of the customer to help them get the most value from the service you are providing.
Re-engagement: Automated re-engagement communications have the greatest variety of potential triggers. These communications could be sent:
- On a subscriber’s birthday (if they provided the information) to deliver a special coupon,
- To a subscriber who has not opened an email or a text message for a long period of time,
- To a subscriber who has abandoned an online cart, or stopped using your service
- To a subscriber has who RSVP’ed for an event.
These trigger-based messages are particularly helpful for recapturing an audience segment that has not engaged with your business for a while.
3. Choose and Integrate the Right Tools to Drive Customer Engagement
In today’s world, one channel is never enough to capture client attention. Customers are continually crisscrossing between online and offline channels, and expect a personalized approach from companies across the entire omnichannel journey. But keeping track of multiple channels and ensure they work together seamlessly can also be a challenge. The same is true for being able to connect your internal tools and platforms to understand what data to use and when to trigger appropriate communications.
This means integration of as many platforms as possible is a must.
Process automation platforms allow your organization to connect several different business apps, reduce manual tasks, and increase internal efficiencies.
Finding the best tools for your company will require some research and investigation, which may include setting up a trial or proof of concept to validate you’re on the right path. It is important to ensure that your business can integrate everything you need into one platform for ease of use.
4. Use AI & Chatbots to Save Time and Money
While many electronic communications may seem one-sided, chatbots enable two-sided conversations in real time.
Chatbots use artificial intelligence to understand customer requests and respond with the appropriate information. Bots can handle more than three-quarters of customer interactions, including automating responses to frequently asked questions.
Currently, most bots are programmed by humans to follow a certain set of rules — like triggers — and arrive at the correct answer to an inquiry. Utilizing this artificial intelligence capability as part of an Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) platform will help your organization communicate more efficiently and effectively with your clients.
Why do chatbots matter? Messaging apps have taken off in recent years, with over 5 billion monthly users as of 2017. According to Gartner, by 2020 chatbots will be handling no less than 85 percent of all customer service interactions. As instant messaging becomes an increasingly popular channel, companies that fail to integrate chatbots or similar messaging platforms are likely to lose out on opportunities for further customer engagement.
5. Monitor Effectiveness and Refine Your Plan Accordingly
So how do you know if your automated process is working? How many customers are opening your automated emails? For appointment reminders, what percentage of patients respond ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the message? Use analytics tools to monitor your performance and find the answer.
Automated process intelligence dashboards track campaigns and measure progress against key performance indicators (KPIs), while giving you the ability to set and track metrics, all within a central location.
It is worth noting that metrics should be specific to individual channels.
Measuring the total number of interactions — shares, likes, comments, etc. — is a good way to determine audience engagement on social media.
For email and text messages, some of the main metrics to consider are open rates, click-through rates, unsubscribe rates, bounce rates, and abuse reports. You can also compare the metrics of automated messages to ad hoc messages. As you progress in having greater intelligence on your initial metrics, tracking the key conversion events will help you understand which channels and what message are ultimately driving the desired outcomes.
Most individual platforms have their own analytics system, but CRMs and customer engagement platforms that automatically pull data from other analytics sources can provide a higher level overview as well.
Overall, automating certain parts of your client communications plan enables your business to focus time, energy, and resources on developing better products or services and cultivating a stronger relationship with your customers.
Interested in learning more about automating your customer communications programs with Nintex? Contact a representative today.