Technology has transformed the world. The likes of Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp to name a few have transformed our personal lives. Meanwhile email, real-time communications and CRM systems have transformed our work lives. But technology has also given power to areas of our lives where business meets personal. And business messaging has touched our lives in surprising ways.
You might think of business messaging as purely the barrage of newsletters you end up with in your inbox. But the reality is that businesses are using social media channels and SMS as innovative gateways to both reach and be reached by their customers. Here are some of our favourite ways businesses or public-sector organisations have seen the writing on the wall when it’s come to messaging, and are saving the world by harnessing an omnichannel strategy.
1. Charitable giving
It’s no secret that more people carry phones today (89%) than they do cash. And yet, most charities are still relying on spare change for donations. With cashpoint usage in decline in the UK since 2012, and cash predicted to be used for just 21% of transactions by 2026, mobile commerce has never been more relevant.
Charities can not only utilise social media messaging channels as touch points for potential donors to ask questions about where their donations can be used, they can also take advantage of the power of SMS. Leading charities text donors to let them know when their donation has been used which not only provides them with a superior service, it also improves the likelihood of a donation in the future. See how NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) have used business messaging to save countless lives.
2. Reminding patients to take their medication
And speaking of the NHS, the BBC recently reported that up to half a billion pounds a year is wasted as a result of complications from patients not taking medication. And yet, the solution could be simple, and affordable. A six-month study where recipients received SMS messages to remind them to take their medication proved extremely affective with a 91% success rate. This was then converted to a 100% success rate when accompanied by a phonecall to recipients who had not replied to the text to report taking the medication.
3. More accessible services
Lowering the barrier to access for young people is one of the most valuable uses of business messaging. Especially when it comes to mental health services or getting life-saving advice. When you consider that only 15% of 16- to 24-year-olds now view phonecalls as the most important means of communication, it’s no wonder that organisations such as the Samaritans and Childline are considering SMS, web chat and social media channels as a means of making their services more accessible for young people. The Guardian recently reported:
In the US, the average monthly number of texts sent on mobile phones exceeded the average number of calls as long ago as 2007. Many people, particularly young people, report discomfort and anxiety about answering the phone. What was once a vital form of communication has become, for them, an intrusion.
“It’s how children want to talk to us,” says Pauline Brennan, a helpline supervisor. “They don’t pick up the telephone to talk to each other any more, so we have to meet them where they’re at,” she says. – Guardian, 2018
The article also made reference to the conversation the organisations had internally. For instance, how it can take longer to have a conversation via chat than via a phonecall. However, Childline reported that currently they can only respond to three-quarters of the phonecalls they receive. When you consider that agents can handle up to four chats at the same time as they can handle one phonecall, the efficiencies and convenience of live chat become evident. These chats can be handled by agents in one place, in one system. But the messages can be coming in from various channels the young people are already using, including Facebook Messenger, Twitter DM, WhatsApp, SMS and web chat.
It’s not only young people who enter the considerations for making services more accessible with business messaging. Many people of varying demographics are embarrassed or fighting social stigmas when it comes to accessing information about certain topics. These include healthcare, money matters such as debt management, LGBTQ+ issues, or even work place advice to name a few. Business messaging that is hooked up to multiple channels allows inbound enquiries to be easy, confidential and free for the enquirers. What’s more, businesses or organisations can enroll users into an education programme. They can send snapshot information with tips, facts or advice. This bitesize model of learning works well for most people. Each notification and subsequent dopamine hit acts as a micro-reward in the brain. This essentially gamifies the educational experience people are having.
5. Fraud and security breaches
Not only is SMS the go-to method for two-factor authentication, but allowing customers to use business messaging with smart replies could keep them (and your business) even safer. Imagine you are doing your Christmas shopping. Instead of your bank putting a block on your account because they’ve noticed the new sound system you’ve splashed out on for your partner is not part of your usual spending habits, forcing you to call them when your card is embarrassingly declined with a queue of dozens behind you, you instead receive a message. It details your purchase, and asks if this was you. You reply “Y”, and your shopping trip continues uninterrupted.
But in another instance, you are sat at home watching the latest Attenborough doc when you receive a similar text. It asks you if you remembered going for a splurge in some of London’s boutiques? You reply ‘N’ and immediately receive a call where your bank resolved the matter in minutes.
These are just a few examples, of hundred. But it’s evident how business messaging can be flexible allowing any business or organisation to be innovative. Business messaging truly has the power to save the world. But, for your business messaging to be effective, you should consider that is must be:
It’s essential your business messaging is joined-up allowing context across the different channels. Or, your risk aliening users and customers, or creating ineffective experiences. For example, the follow-up phonecalls in the medication study were only given to users who had not replied to the reminder text. If everyone had received a phonecall, it would be a nuisance. Likewise, the context of a vulnerable child who has spoken to Childline before on web chat could make all the difference in a dangerous situation.
ready for the future
Both Childline and the Samaritans recognised the importance of being where their users are. But consumers adopt technology at a quicker and quicker rate each year. To keep up, you’ll need to make sure your provider has the ability to quickly adopt and offer new channels. Future-proofing your business.
It’s not just confidential helplines that need to be concerned. All information is sensitive information today. Fines for data breaches are reaching record highs. It’s important your provider has vigorous security messages in place to prevent messages being intercepted.
Almost all of the scenarios above depend on messaging being 2-way to succeed. There is a perception this can be hard to implement or manage. But if your business messaging is through the right provider, it needn’t be this way.
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