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MassivelyGeneral HARMONIZING HUMAN EXPERTISE WITH AI POWERED CHATBOTS

HARMONIZING HUMAN EXPERTISE WITH AI POWERED CHATBOTS

Massively Guide for Small and Medium Sized Businesses

Customer communication preferences, especially for small businesses, have shown a significant shift towards digital channels. This shift is driven by a combination of evolving consumer behavior and advancements in technology. This report explores some of these key trends and provides insights and actionable strategies you can use to help your business thrive in 2024.


Chat and messaging are rapidly becoming the most preferred communication channels for customers. The convenience and immediacy of messaging align with current consumer expectations for quick and easy interactions with businesses. This trend is not just limited to web chat, but extends to messaging on social platforms like Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and Google Business Messaging.


There has been a noticeable decline in the preference for telephone support, especially since the pandemic. Consumers now favor digital channels that allow them to multitask and communicate asynchronously, without the need to actively wait on hold.


Automation and AI-driven communication tools, once viewed with skepticism or out of reach for SMBs, are now seen in a more positive light. Advances in AI and conversational technology have made these tools more accessible while also becoming more sophisticated, offering immediate, personalized, and contextual service. Customers are increasingly open to interacting with automated systems, particularly for initial inquiries and simple issue resolutions.


Additionally, a significant number of customers now prefer to handle issues on their own through online self-service support portals. This preference is driven by the desire for quick resolution and convenience. However, keeping real people “in the loop” and available remains important for more complex or emotionally charged requests. An effective omnichannel strategy is crucial for engaging customers. This involves supporting a variety of communication channels – both digital and traditional – and ensuring consistency and integration across these channels. The key is to be present on the channels preferred by customers in the moments they want to engage and to offer seamless transitions between these channels.


For small businesses, the focus should be on adopting a flexible, omnichannel approach that prioritizes digital and messaging platforms while not completely abandoning traditional channels. The integration of AI and automation in customer communications can also play a significant role in enhancing customer experience and operational efficiency.


SMALL AND MID-SIZED VS. ENTERPRISE COMPANIES

Tailoring CX and Chat Solutions to Scale
Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (SMBs) operate in a distinct environment compared to larger, Enterprise-level organizations, particularly in terms of technical resources, customer experience (CX), and chat solutions. SMBs often require streamlined, cost-effective solutions that are easy to implement and manage, given their limited resources and smaller support teams. Personalization and flexibility are key, as SMBs need to rapidly adapt to changing customer behaviors and market trends. A “no-code” solution that allows users without any knowledge of how coding works is often required to address the needs of SMBs.

Mid-Sized companies, while larger, still value agility but start to require more sophisticated tools that can integrate with a broader range of systems and handle increased volume without sacrificing the quality of customer interactions.

In contrast, Enterprise companies face the complexities of scaling at a much larger magnitude. They need robust, comprehensive (and expensive) solutions capable of handling massive volumes of data, integrating with a complex array of existing systems across various departments and global markets. Most often, IT professionals with coding skills are required to create custom applications at the Enterprise level.


This guide is particularly relevant for SMBs and Mid-Market companies as it not only acknowledges their unique challenges and needs, but also provides insights and recommendations tailored to their scale, helping them navigate the evolving landscape of CX and chat solutions in a way that aligns with their technical skills, growth trajectory and resource constraints.


THE SHIFT IN CUSTOMER COMMUNICATION
Overview:
The landscape of customer communication has evolved, influenced by an on-demand, always-on world. This is the lens through which SMBs should view customer communication. This shift is centered around two key consumer desires: a fast way to get in touch, and a quick resolution of their inquiry.

Key Trends:
Transition from Traditional to Modern Communication
: The progression from phone and email to web chat, social media, search, and messaging reflects the modern customer’s preference. There has been a noticeable decline in the preference for telephone support, especially since the pandemic. Consumers now favor digital channels that allow them to multitask and communicate asynchronously, without the need to actively wait on hold.
Channel Preference: Which channel is right for your business depends on the one your customer uses. The optimal channel is the one your customer is on and wants to use. Businesses need to be ready for all relevant channels.


Data Insights:

  • Messaging has risen to #2 overall in terms of channel usage, making it the fastest- growing channel (Forester)
  • 75% of customers are more likely to purchase if they can message rather than call (LivePerson)
  • 75% of consumers prefer to engage over private messaging channels versus traditional channels (Conversocial)
  • 73% of customers prefer seamless channel transitions (Zendesk)
  • 89% of customers choose messaging for business interactions (Twilio)


THE DEMAND FOR INSTANT COMMUNICATION

Overview:

Today, customers exhibit an unprecedented demand for immediacy in communication. Customers are impatient – speed is everything and patience wears out at 10 minutes. This highlights a critical need for businesses to adopt efficient, immediate communication channels to satisfy customer expectations and alleviate frustration.

Key Trends:
Clear expectation for rapid response:
An “immediate” response (in 10 minutes or less) is essential when it comes to service, sales, or marketing inquiries. If a business can not reply quickly, customers with service inquiries become frustrated, while customers with sales or marketing inquiries simply move on to their next option.
Waiting Times: The immediacy and convenience of messaging is unquestionably better than making a phone call, navigating an IVR, waiting on hold or waiting for an email response.



Data Insights:
The top areas where support teams have seen the biggest increase in customer expectations are speed of response (63%) and speed of resolution (57%) (Intercom).
82% of consumers rate an “immediate” response as important or very important when they have a sales or marketing question, 90% when they have a customer service question (HubSpot).
33% of customers say the most frustrating aspect of getting help is waiting on hold (Intercom).
67% of people would rather message a business than wait to speak with a person (Tidio).


AUTOMATION AND AI-DRIVEN COMMUNICATION BALANCED WITH REAL PEOPLE

Overview:
As mentioned, customers have developed heightened expectations, demanding real-time replies and preferring engagement on their chosen platforms. Customers are also becoming significantly more receptive to AI powered solutions powered by advancements in Generative AI (GenAI) to meet these needs, so long as real people are available when required. Strategically delivering the right balance of real people and AI is the key to successfully meeting expectations – GenAI powered chatbots for instant, always-on responses with more complex, sensitive or emotionally charged questions routed to real people to provide the human touch.

Key Trends:
AI Adoption in Businesses:
GenAI has enabled businesses to reply immediately and at any time (24/7) and has enabled customers to feel more digitally understood and relevant than ever.
Instant Connection: Customers expect businesses to be accessible instantly on diverse platforms, with an emphasis on messaging, regardless of time of day.

Data Insights:
61% of customers would opt for the faster responses of AI vs. waiting for a customer support agent (Hospitable).
59% of customers prefer self service for simple questions (Salesforce).
44% of people are comfortable using conversational AI for product recommendations (Accenture Life Trends 2024).
60% of companies are planning conversational customer service and investing in AI (Zendesk 2023 CX Trends).


LEVERAGING OMNICHANNEL – OFFERING MORE THAN WEBCHAT

Overview:
Omnichannel approaches are crucial for SMBs to enhance customer satisfaction, amplify the effectiveness of other marketing activities and ensure that their efforts in Google Search or social media advertising work harder. This is because omnichannel engagement provides multiple touchpoints for customers. When a potential customer searches in Google or sees a social media post or ad, adding chat functionality can guide the customer more efficiently through the sales funnel.

Key Trends:
Find new customers through messaging:
For SMBs, this means a higher ROI, as each marketing dollar spent is supported by chat, turning one off interactions into a persistent conversation and multiple opportunities for conversion.
Customer journey is not linear: Your customer might find you through Google, see an ad on social media and then make a purchase through a website. An omnichannel CX approach ensures customers get answers “in the moments that count”…those pivotal moments when they are seeking solutions or browsing on social.

Data Insights:
600 million daily chats across Instagram, Messenger, Facebook and WhatsApp (Meta’s Q3 2023 Earnings Call).
Over 90% of customers turn to Google to learn more about local businesses (Brightlocal).
82% of consumers said being able to message a business on social makes them feel better about the brand (Sinch Message Media).
77% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase if they can get answers through messaging (Think with Google).

STRATEGIES AND ACTIONABLE TAKEAWAYS FOR 2024

Your needs are different: SMBs need solutions tailored to their unique requirements. Find easy to use and affordable solutions that allow you to operate more efficiently and “do more with less.”
Importance of Instant Messaging: Businesses must adapt to customer preferences for messaging over traditional communication methods. The customer isn’t going to wait. If you can’t answer, they move on. Messaging is unquestionably better than making a phone call, navigating an IVR and waiting on hold forever or for a return email. Nothing beats being able to instantly message any time, any place.
AI and Human Collaboration: The combination of AI and human interaction will be crucial in meeting customer expectations. AI is better at some jobs, specifically the monotonous, repetitive parts, and replying to people on time. Humans are needed for complex or emotionally charged queries. Don’t waste time answering the same questions over and over.
Stay Ahead with AI: Embracing AI is no longer optional; it’s a necessity for staying competitive. Seize this huge opportunity. Those who don’t risk getting left behind.

Connect in the moments that count: Omnichannel is a critical component for SMBs. Find new customers through messaging during the entire customer journey. Your customer might see an ad on social media or find you on Google. Be ready to chat in those moments.


About Massively Inc.

Massively is a leader in chatbot and live chat solutions for businesses. Massively allows anyone to create and deploy polished chatbots. Launched in 2014, Massively manages your most important relationships by powering chatbots people actually want to talk to. Book a demo and learn how Massively can help your business connect to customers on channels they prefer (and are already on).

For more information, visit https://massively.ai or https://mat.massively.ai/

 

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