SMS will continue to be a mainstay for many enterprise messaging tasks, for things like two-factor authentication a simple (but secure) text message between a customer and their bank, for example, is all that’s required.
But, in terms of enterprise communication, well, smartphones have changed all of that and are spawning new patterns of demand from consumers. In terms of messaging, consumers want richer, more convenient customer service experiences and to be able to ‘chat’ to enterprises often instantly, in the moment of need.
Communications as a platform (CPaaS), RCS messaging, OTT enterprise messaging services and chatbots are all upending traditional customer engagement and communication.
So how will these platforms fare in 2019? We asked a range experts to respond.
Here’s what they said.
Infobip polled over 300 mobile network operator leaders globally at this year’s GSMA WAS#8 event and RCS is expected to take off quickly. Described as next-gen SMS messaging, RCS allows rich content and interactivity like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger in a standard network message.
Developed under GSMA, and already available using Google’s Android app Chat, RCS messages can revert to SMS if the recipient’s device isn’t compatible, or there’s no mobile data, so retains SMS’s vital reliability.
In 2019, operators expect adoption to extend and for commercial organisations to begin to make much more use of RCS for marketing and transactional messaging. One potential roadblock is Apple’s lack of interest in the standard, though only some operators viewed this as a significant challenge. 5G, with better bandwidth and low latency, is viewed as a significant push, as are tools to manage RCS as part of an omnichannel communications offering.
Businesses will be more visible on messaging apps like WhatsApp, Apple iMessage and Facebook Messenger.
Whereas these apps are still predominantly used for consumer to consumer communication, especially in the United States, 2019 will be the year when business use will accelerate as these apps open up to developers. Businesses will use these apps as new channels to engage customers into conversations with richer experiences such as Instagram-style stories.
We will see a more intelligent approach to customer experience automation in 2019. By taking a Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) approach, customer experience teams can bring together various sources of customer data from different systems, allowing organisations to align and automate communications alongside customer journeys and processes that can intelligently trigger and manage customer interaction.
Not only will this help improve customers’ digital experience, it will provide key productivity gains and reduce the risk of investing in technologies and projects that don’t deliver.
2019 will be the year of the chatbot for mobile users. This past year, AI-powered tools like chatbots were brought front and centre as a modern way for customers to engage with brands 24/7. We saw them on web properties and in messaging platforms like Facebook, and while they did start popping up on mobile apps and other mobile experiences, it will become more common in 2019. As customers get used to this “always-on” service, they will expect it to be available across all the ways they engage.
And with mobile shopping accounting for over a quarter of the entire consumer spending in the UK, this presents a huge opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves through customer service.
It should be noted, however, that adding a chatbot into the mix needs to be treated like adding any other new channel of engagement. It can’t be siloed. The experience needs to be consistent and seamless across the customer journey and work together with all other communication methods so that query data and context can move with the customer as they go from one channel to another.
CX is becoming the main differentiator for brands when their customers value the experience of better service, whether they are making a decision to buy something, or need help along the way. But providing great experiences across all channels (mobile, social, voice, messaging, self-help and more) is harder than it seems, especially when budgets are under pressure.
There is no option when it comes to CX: customers are getting used to enhanced experiences and want better and better service, in a shorter period of time, with more accurate answers, and better outcomes. Companies will need to keep up with these expectations or fall farther behind.
The right Real-Time Communications technology and automation advance the customer experience when combined with great human agents. AI helps make this easier, with hundreds of innovators in the emerging CX and contact center industry inventing new ways to interact with the customer, reinventing business processes, and otherwise completely changing the game for brands and consumers. AI is not easy: but once it is planned, deployed, and leveraged through new management and coaching models, huge benefits accrue including more business insight – and better compliance.