Creating frictionless CX in the contact centre

Neville Doughty, Partnership Director, Contact Centre Panel

The BBC recently reported something that to my mind had already happened a while back,
making WhatsApp available to businesses so that they can interact with the customers.

Here’s a quote from the BBC article in which Meta chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, stated that the development would help companies customise their experience and that “The best business experiences meet people where they are,”. He said at the announcement of the new service that “Already more than one billion users connect with a business account across our messaging services every week.”

So clearly customers are already using WhatsApp to engage with businesses, the change here is more about the “how”.

I do agree that customers want to be serviced where they are, the whole point of frictionless CX is making it easy and if I’m having other conversations in WhatsApp, then why not add another? The rules are clear, I must engage the company in the chat, they cannot engage me. The addition to a “Contact Us” page of a “WhatsApp Us” is a good way to support customers in that space.

From a delivery of service perspective, it can make the conversation harder as there is the asynchronous nature of a WhatsApp. As a customer I may start the chat now but not pick up the response for 3 hours, the conversation could continue for the best part of a week. This creates an interesting challenge for the business and the people within it though. Does it mean that multiple agents are going to interact with that supporter who could send messages across a timeframe that exceeds a shift or a working day? Contact centres have already been managing this situation for sure, but is the result an impact to efficiencies that servicing via WhatsApp is trying to achieve as another member of the team needs to familiarise themselves to respond to the last message? Or should we be setting a lower SLA on the follow up responses, seeing if the initial agent will be back to deal with it and leaving it for them to manage when back on shift?

I remember a time when first implementing e-mail solutions, in which trying to get the system to manage the stop and start of the clock to deal with e-mails “within the SLA” was a whole project strand. This would mean sometimes missing the reason behind the “customer” need and focusing too heavily on what the “client” had stipulated. The model was focused on one mail in and one mail out. Thankfully, technologies have moved forward now and the right blend of technology can ensure the initial phase of a conversation via messaging platforms can capture key information so the agent is best placed to resolve the query. For me, one of the best things with WhatsApp is the ability to switch from messaging to voice easily if needed all within the one channel.

‘Meta Platforms Inc (including Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp) have over 3.6 billion active users.’