Part 3: Best Practices For Implementing Messaging

  • puzzle as a metaphor for Customer service messaging best practices

This is Part 3 in a 3-Part Series focused on The Messaging Mandate for Customer Service.  This article outlines things to consider when implementing messaging.  Part 1  highlighted why Messaging should be part of your customer service organization. Part 2 discussed the criteria against which to rank consumer-to-business messaging providers. 

We hope you are enjoying the series.



It has been established that messaging is the highest rated contact method for customer satisfaction compared to all other communication channels. (eWeek).  However, like other service channels, messaging comes with a unique set of considerations when implementing it into your customer service centers.  This is why it is important to do a little prep work to help ensure successful adoption.  Three things to consider for a smooth implementation:

  1. Business Metrics and Goals
  2. Staffing and Training  
  3. Customer Adoption
  1. Business Metrics and Goals

Aligning your goals for the messaging channel with your business objectives is the first step.  Make sure that there is alignment with all stakeholders.  Everyone should know why the company is offering messaging and the intended outcomes.  The best way to do this is to establish goals and baseline metrics from the beginning.  Some key goals and metrics would include:

Business Metric:  Cost Reduction

Goal 1: Offload phone calls to messaging channel

Goal 2: Increase agent productivity

Metrics: Monthly calls received, monthly calls presented to the agent, cost per contact per channel, # of inquiries per channel

Once the messaging channel is opened up to your customers, there will be a progressive transition from phone calls to messaging, typically in the 10-20% range to start, growing over time. Not only that, agents that work the messaging channel will be able to handle multiple conversations at once versus phone calls that must be 1-1. We have found, depending on the complexity of the inquiries, agents can handle approximately 10 simultaneous conversations. With the ability to include images and videos over messaging, agents can understand and solve problems faster. This increased agent productivity and efficiency, coupled with the shift from phone to messaging, results in significant cost savings for your organization.

Business Metric: Employee Productivity

Goal 3: Improve time to resolution

Metrics: Number incidents handled by day by agent, first contact resolution rate, time to first response

The pure nature of messaging can allow for faster interactions. They may not always be shorter per se, due to the pace the consumer engages, however the time it takes for the agent will likely be shorter than a phone call. Conversations are direct and to the point.  Because agents can easily manage multiple, simultaneous conversations, they are more productive than if they have to handle phone calls or emails. With the addition of images/video agents can understand and solve problems faster. Likewise, agents can send multi-media back to the customer allowing them to see the solution

Business Metric: Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

Goal 4: Increase CSAT by 5 points

Metrics: Customer satisfaction survey results, employee satisfaction results, resolution rate

Messaging is the highest rated customer satisfaction channel over phone, email, and chat. While customer feedback is critical, an early indicator of CSAT is actually measuring your agent’s satisfaction.  As customer adoption of the channel starts to increase, plan to capture feedback and track agent satisfaction with this new channel. Their interest and adoption is important as well. Of course, the customer is still king/queen. Ensure you are ready to capture satisfaction scores from customers once you go live with messaging. A great way to do this is to trigger a satisfaction survey via text messaging at the end of the conversation. Our customers see 5-10 point increases in their CSAT scores with messaging.

  1. Staffing and Training

Staffing for a new channel like messaging is not as daunting as it seems. A great start is to gauge your current call volume. You can generally expect 10-20% of customers will select messaging over making a phone call once you make it known that it is available.  One popular option is to assign a set of agents to a single “live” channel, such as messaging, and then supplement their time with email. Some other best practices include:

  • Messaging Etiquette:  If you are using phone agents to now be messaging agents, be sure to test their writing skills. Depending on the demographics of your customer base, agents may need to adjust their voice to be more or less formal.  Additionally, their style of writing may require proper language use, which includes spelling and grammar, or they may need to freshen up on their texting shortcuts. Not only that, it may be wise to also consider a policy for emoji usage. The decision should be driven by the desired voice and persona of your brand.
  • Staff Training: There is not much training required at all for agents to step in and handle the incoming messages, particularly if you select a messaging solution that seamless integrates into your existing CRM solution. We all text multiple times a day and this is no different. Something to focus on instead are any pre-built messages that can be sent and having a small library of those available to leverage. For example, a standard greeting, response to an order status inquiry can be written ahead of time as pre-built snippets. Agents can then use shortcuts to quickly respond to common questions.
  • Access to other applications – Generally you will have the choice to integrate messaging into the primary application agents use or add messaging as a separate channel. Either way, be sure to take advantage of the messaging solution’s user interface. Quickly integrating one or more applications will save agents invaluable steps and time. For example, if agents need to access an order system or billing system or a knowledge base for nearly every interaction, make sure those are integrated into the messaging interface to eliminate clicks and save time.
  1. Customer Adoption

Finally, and most importantly, you need to let your customers know that messaging is now available. Some great ways to start are:

    • Phone: Inform customers as they are actively engaging with your organization
      • It is easy to let customers know they can now text or message your customer service team while they are on hold or as an intro message before routing them to the appropriate queue.
      • Even better, you can give customers the option, while they are in the IVR, to initiate a text instead to resolve their inquiry.
    • Website/In-Apps
      • Place the offer to message first and foremost on your mobile site, not just on the contact page.
      • Add the text button to both the Contact Us and Customer Service areas of your website.
      • On the main website, update any references to your phone number to include “Call or Text”.
    • Social Channels
      • You are likely ahead of your competition when it comes to adopting messaging, so promote this new offering on your social channels
      • Turn on Facebook Messenger and let customers know they can reach you with questions
  • Outbound Communications
    • SMS: The obvious first step is to determine if you would like to proactively communicate via SMS with your customers in addition to offering messaging as a support channel. If so, this is a fantastic opportunity to shift from marketing blasts to conversations with your customers.
    • Email: Many of our clients share the adoption of messaging as a way to engage with customers through their outbound email communications by including it in a newsletter or other promotion
    • Press Release: Many brands pride themselves on being innovative and leading their competition, so promoting this publically to demonstrate their commitment to the customer experience sets them apart
    • Direct Mail: Depending on your demographic, a messaging announcement can be included on a planned flyer
  • Registration
    • When customer sign up, register, or provide their personal information to you, ask them for their mobile phone number and tell them they can now be identified in the case they have any issues or questions and want to message your company. If you plan to use it for outbound communications, be clear to state that and of course, follow the CSAM and other opt-in/out requirements.

As you can see, once you establish your goals, the rest can fall into place rather seamlessly. Your team and your customers will truly appreciate the ability to communicate via this new channel.

In this series, we have talked about how important messaging is, how to select the best messaging vendor for you, and what to do when you are ready to implement – and we have enjoyed every minute of it!  SMS, text, Facebook Messenger, and chat…we love it and live it.  We have made our careers in helping drive improvements to customer service and the customer experience. Let us help you successfully add Messaging to your organization.  

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