Why the Future of Digital Marketing Lies in Automation and Live Chat

78% of smartphone users will use messaging by the end of 2018

There is no question that mobile messaging is on the rise. By the end of 2018, 78 percent of the world’s smartphone users will message every month, and the growth is only expected to continue. By 2021, it’s predicted that the global user base for mobile messaging apps will have risen an additional 24 percent. So it’s no wonder that businesses and their customers have embraced messaging as a new and efficient way of connecting and getting things done.

People have recognized that messaging with businesses is convenient and enables them to get issues resolved more efficiently than via phone or email. In fact, people surveyed across 15 markets are already more likely to rate the effectiveness of messaging a business as “excellent” or “very good” compared to calling on the phone. And in turn, businesses have seen that they can use messaging to connect with their customers in a more personalized way and can also save time and money through the use of automation.

This has had a profound effect on the way many businesses are now handling things like customer service and marketing, but many businesses still struggle to figure out the messaging strategy that best suits their business needs. For example, at what point does it make sense to incorporate automation into your messaging experience, and if you do decide to automate, what should still be left to human agents?

As with any marketing channel, it’s important to think about the problems you are trying to solve, not just for your business, but for your customers. If you’ve got messaging turned on—for instance, through a live chat provider on your website—chances are that people are already reaching out to you. What types of questions are they asking, and what’s the frequency?

For example, if you’re a restaurant and people tend to reach out to you asking about your hours and reservations, that might be something you’d consider automating. There are actually tools that can help you do this fairly easily, enabling you to pull together variations of frequently asked questions that you can then label and respond to automatically. “What are your hours?”; “When are you open?”; and “Are you open today?” will all trigger the same automatic response.

Brands big and small can take advantage of automation to save their customers’ time and help people get what they want when they want it.

While automation is great for things like getting simple questions answered, filling out forms or booking an appointment, there are still many instances when a human touch is needed to handle more complex or nuanced inquiries. This is why many businesses will adopt a hybrid approach that incorporates both automation (or even artificial intelligence) and live agents.

One brand that has done this really well is KLM. KLM used AI to streamline their support operations across social channels. When agents receive a question from a customer, they are given a proposed answer through AI, which is trained to answer more than 60,000 questions. Based on the agent’s response, the system learns and becomes smarter in real time. By introducing AI into their customer service mix, they increased their agents’ efficiency dramatically.

There are features that help make transitioning from automation to live agents more seamless. For example, the handover protocol feature in Messenger enables businesses to provide both automated and live responses, transitioning back and forth all within the context of the same conversation. So while some complex technological handoffs may be happening in the background, as far as your customers are concerned, this is all one persistent conversation with your brand.

There really is no hard and fast rule for when to automate and when a live agent is best suited to respond, but it’s important to make this decision based on what makes sense for your business and, more importantly, your customers. When thinking about their messaging strategy, brands need to carefully analyze where messaging could best help their business and focus on finding the right mix of automated technology and live agent support to ensure their customers’ needs are being met in every exchange.