Business communication as we know it, has evolved immensely over the span of a few short months. For brick and mortar, physical distancing has become paramount and protective measures for customer safety has become vital for retention. With these new standards in place contactless communication has emerged as the model communication method for today’s modern customer.
In this article, we’re diving into contactless communication and how you can leverage it to engage your customers in a way that builds customer loyalty and maximizes revenue.
What Is Contactless Communication?
Contactless communication is a safe and secure method of interacting with customers without the need for physical contact. Achieved using communication channels such as text/SMS, email, social media and more, it reduces the amount of effort it takes to connect with customers, improves audience reach, builds lasting relationships, and of course, keeps safety top of mind.
Even before the emergence of COVID-19, digital transformation was on the rise. In a Salesforce’s Connected Shoppers Report, it was cited that “shoppers were well-accustomed to move seamlessly along their journeys using channels that were most convenient”. This included contactless apps such as “Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.”
With the need for greater safety measures and physical distance, it can then be said that the COVID-19 pandemic simply reinforced the importance of these contactless communication channels. In fact, in a recent Capgemini report: “The Consumer and COVID”, it was stated that 30% of shoppers had a high interaction level with online channels before the crisis. But 37% would characterize themselves in that light today. Capgemini also cited that in the next “6–9 months, this interaction is expected to accelerate further”, which was reiterated by eMarketer who reported, “by 2021, the global user base for mobile messaging apps will have risen by a further 23%”.
Contactless communication is evidently on the rise, and with more and more businesses opening up around the world, contactless communication will become a key part of building your customer relationships and fostering greater loyalty.
Benefits of Contactless Communication
As noted there are a growing list of benefits that come from adopting contactless communication methods. Whether you’re looking to increase customer conversations, drive more efficient operations or connect on a deeper level with customers, here we outline the top benefits of contactless communication.
Fewer In-Person Touchpoints
According to a report by Capgemini Research, 77% of consumers say they will be more cautious about cleanliness, health and safety in the post-pandemic era and nearly 62% will switch to brands that show higher levels of product safety.
For the modern business, safety and prevention are crucial factors in generating customer loyalty. Today’s customer looks for a variety of stand-out safety offerings including online messaging, curb-side pick-up and digital request fulfillment. With contactless communication, you can go the extra mile by deterring customers from visiting you in-person, and providing answers from the comfort of their homes. By going contactless, customers can meet you on the channel of their choice, que up a conversation in a matter of seconds and get a response instantly. It’s a safe and effective way to give the customers what they want without sacrificing their peace of mind.
Fast and Reliable Communication
Customers expect fast and reliable communication. By going contactless, you avoid long line-ups and endless in-person ques of people waiting for appointments. With channels such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Text/SMS, customers can start a conversation, send requests, and book appointments all in an instant. Instead of waiting in-location for hours, customers can get a standard notification when your employee is ready to help or get help immediately.
Additionally, using contactless channels, you can create standard responses for common questions that employees can use. Rather than having an employee have to ask for assistance, increasing the amount of time it takes a customer to get help, having standard response ensures they are always sharing accurate information in-line with brand values. Not only does this guarantee the information they’re relaying is accurate but also that it is sent in a timely fashion that boosts satisfaction and generates loyalty.
More Informed Conversations
When it comes to engaging current customers or prospects, leveraging analytics from contact profiles, can be helpful in understanding customers and their needs. As opposed to meeting someone new in-person and having a conversation without any background knowledge, contactless communication channels like Facebook Messenger allow you to see information on their profile that can help tailor the experience. With this, you can make more informed decisions on what type of service or product you should be providing.
Greater Audience Reach For Maximized Revenue
Today, smartphone penetration rates are on the rise among consumers globally. With more people moving towards digital communication, businesses have the ability to reach audiences around the world. Connect with potential customers outside your standard proximity, with contactless communication you make it easier for people to connect with you on their own terms.
The Top Contactless Communication Methods
When going contactless, having the right tools in place is essential to determining how successful you’ll be. Consider for a moment, what channels your customer base is using, what is trending in your respective industry and what is the most effective for your business and its operations. Here, we highlight some of the top channels to consider to kick start your contactless communication initiative.
Although texting has been around for decades, it’s momentum continues to build. According to Pew Research, Americans send roughly 26 billion text messages in a single day and 97% of smartphone owners text regularly. What’s more Nielsen Study cited that 56% of people would rather message a business than call customer service, in addition, the average response time for a text was 6,000% (60X) faster than email. With it’s undeniable reach and customer demand, texting customers is a great contactless communication option to consider using in your business strategy.
A traditional but still highly effective method to reach your audience, emails allow you to send longer messages and include attachments – ideal qualities for sending invitations, promotional offers, follow-ups, check-ins, and more. In addition, emails are fairly straightforward to obtain, and as long as you have wifi and their correct address, you’re guaranteed a delivery.
A fast-growing set of channels, social media has been dominating the business sphere for years. In fact, on average, global internet users spend some 144 minutes per day surfing social networks and is expected to reach some 3.43 billion monthly active social media users by 2023. Facebook Messenger specifically has been gaining popularity with one of the highest monthly active user rates of 2.6 billion worldwide, and WhatsApp following with approximately 1.6 billion monthly active users world wide.
For a business looking to attract a greater audience while adhering to customer preferences, adopting social media as a contactless communication channel is a serious consideration.
(Source: Global digital population (in billions) as of July 2020, Statista)
As businesses move towards a more digital experience, website chat displayed on a website becomes a highly effective method to engage customers. In the form of either a web page pop-up, live chat, or contact form, having a web channel allows you to reach customers while they’re on your website. This is not only a great way to prompt customers to start a conversation but it also doesn’t alienate those who don’t want to provide a phone number or download an app.
For the customer that requires greater detail or a more personal conversation, phone calls are a great way to provide that individualized experience while maintaining a safe distance. Ideal for follow-ups or for appointment reminders we recommend pairing the phone call with another channel like email or text to send a confirmation of your verbal communication.
How A Customer Experience Management Platform Can Help Your Contactless Communication Initiative
Today, 55% of all shoppers say retail experiences are generally disconnected from channel to channel. For most businesses, the idea of adopting and managing more channels than they already have can seem daunting and difficult to navigate. Imagine offering WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, text and email, while having to login to each individual platform to consistently check up on conversations and answer inquiries. Not such a streamlined process.
With a customer experience management platform, you can access all your channels from a single shared inbox. This means, Facebook Messenger, email, text, and more can be accessed and utilized all in one location, so your employees can respond quickly and engage on the contactless communication channel of the customer’s choice.
What’s more, with the right customer experience platform you can leverage text analytics to gain a new understanding of the customer and your business environment. Whether a customer is concerned about the precautions you’re taking against COVID, or they are inquiring about your new reduced business hours, an ideal CEM will be able to share the customer’s feelings while capturing trending topics. This is useful for future strategy and understanding customer preferences today.
Lastly, a customer experience management platform is a great way to ensure accurate information is being disseminated to your customers. While you may take the time to train employees and keep them knowledgeable about changing precautions, with a CEM you can create standard message templates to frequently asked questions. For instance, if a question regarding hours of operations does come up consistently, an employee can easily select a message template for that topic and send it instantly. This saves employees time from writing out long messages and ensures the customer gets a fast and accurate response.
Today, over half of millennials (53%) agree that associates do not have the tools they need to deliver excellent customer service. When it comes to delivering on the promise of contactless communication, it’s important to consider tools that can help you administer it fast and effectively, such as a customer experience management platform.