April marked 50 years since the first mobile phone call. Since then, mobile devices have matured to become the remote control for our lives, our primary point of digital interaction. Most desktop activity has moved to mobile, providing consumers the ability to instantaneously search the web, shop for goods and services, track online orders, find dates, and problem-solve with customer support 24/7. Over the last 50 years, mobile phones have brought us closer to family, friends and our most beloved brands, and at this point, they almost never leave our side.
We've Grown to Really, Really Love Our Mobile Devices
According to consumer research from Sinch, nearly 75 percent of people couldn't imagine going more than a weekend without their mobile phone, while almost one-quarter (23 percent) could last an hour at most. In the same survey, respondents ranked texting as their favorite way of conversing with a business, and a 2022 report found that 90 percent of consumers want to initiate transactions like exchanges or refunds with retailers via messaging. If customers are THIS attached to their mobile devices, it's on retailers to reach them there.
Be Smart About Where You're Engaging With Your Customers
As the retail landscape has evolved, we've learned that convenience triumphs over almost everything else. Sinch’s research shows 92 percent of customers would like to message a chatbot to find out if a product is in stock before visiting a store. Consumers want to have more interactions with brands that empower them to take action. Therefore, engaging customers on the platforms they frequently use is how today's brands gain a competitive advantage. It's through these engagements that customer loyalty is born.
To stand out and stay ahead of the curve in the retail sector, brands must diversify their mobile messaging strategy and activate the right messaging channels. Here's how:
Messaging Channels Extend the Immediacy of In-Person Brand Experiences
Now that consumers have demonstrated their desire to stay in touch with brands over messaging, the onus is on retailers to meet this demand to drive a better digital CX — and, in turn, stronger customer relationships. With mobile messages boasting a 98 percent open rate and 90 percent read rate within three minutes of receipt, retailers can rely on messaging channels — e.g., SMS, WhatsApp, In-App, or peer-to-peer (P2P) chat. Convenience and immediacy are the names of the game, but the benefits don’t have to stop there. No matter the size, specialty or target demographic of your brand, ensure that you’re getting the most out of messaging by bringing the customer experience you’ve created in-store or on other digital channels to the messaging channel.
My team and I recently worked with global retailer Zadig & Voltaire, which wanted to elevate the customer experience and deliver best-in-class service to its customers. In activating its messaging channels for customer engagement, Zadiq & Voltaire was able to extend its brand experience and accommodate customers' needs with one-to-one, real-time customer communications.
Activating Two-Way Channels
Sinch's 2022 CX report found 89 percent of people want to initiate and reply to two-way conversations with businesses via multiple mobile and social channels. When companies activate two-way channels, they empower customers to start a support request, inquire about products and services, get recommendations based on past purchases, and make new purchases. At the same time, it provides an opportunity for brands to respond in real time. This way, they can mimic the intimacy of in-person brand interactions and double down on the convenience of online transactions. With the latest advancements in artificial intelligence, brands can add even more value to their customer interactions with conversational AI chatbots, which are more equipped with natural language processing (NLP), machine learning, and conversational design to handle more complex requests and recognize human intent.
Not Either/Or, But Both
Over the years, the retail landscape has evolved and we've learned that convenience triumphs over almost everything else. Research from Sinch revealed 92 percent of customers would like to message a chatbot to find out if a product is in stock before visiting a store. Expanding your digital CX doesn’t mean that customers will no longer be interested in shopping in-store — rather, it creates an all-encompassing ecosystem of the customer experience, leveraging each channel (in-store, messaging channels, email) for their strengths.
The mobile phone has undergone a tremendous evolution — and so, too, should retail CX. Messaging channels deliver on flexibility and rich brand experiences. Retailers of all sizes have an opportunity to deepen their customer relationships by opening up the chat.
Matt Ramerman is the president of Sinch for Marketing, a mobile messaging platform to transform your brand experience.
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