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Digital channels are overtaking voice in the contact center as consumers seek speed and efficiency in their service interactions.
This is a landmark moment. Digital is no longer on the periphery as an alternative to voice — it’s now critical for organizations to have a connected voice and digital strategy that empowers customers across their journeys.
While voice is still the No. 1 channel preference, this declines sharply with each younger generation. Today’s consumers — particularly Generation Z and millennials — prefer unassisted or asynchronous interactions. But they report these channels aren’t currently reliable in delivering high-quality experiences. In fact, their satisfaction with these channels remains low and is getting worse, according to the latest edition of “The State of Customer Experience,” a global research report by Genesys.
This article explores asynchronous messaging and its pervasiveness in customers’ everyday lives. We’ll consider the differences between synchronous and asynchronous communication, as well as their relative advantages and disadvantages for consumers and employees alike.
Synchronous communication occurs in real time. It can take place in a variety of different channels — an in-person meeting, a phone call, a video conference on a platform like Zoom or an instant message on a platform like Slack. Participants can respond immediately to any questions, comments or concerns that you might express. They can work to solve immediate problems, build camaraderie and build on each other’s ideas.
Now think of how you often communicate today with your friends and family. It likely includes long conversations that you return to a day or several days later; you update each other with new details, but don’t expect an immediate response to each message.
That’s asynchronous communication.
In “async” interactions, there’s usually some time and space between you and other participants. And since you’re not present and available at the same time, you don’t expect an immediate response to your messages.
Your employees likely use a variety of asynchronous channels during the workday, especially if they’re working with colleagues across time zones. These channels might include email, project management software and shared documents such as Google docs or Excel spreadsheets. Since async channels allow them to reply later, they can focus on their current tasks without interruption and reply when it’s convenient for them.
In the contact center, some common asynchronous channels include email and web messaging, also known as “asynchronous chat” or “async chat.”
Web messaging enables a visitor to enter your website, converse with a bot or agent, and return whenever they want to pick up the conversation without repeating themselves. This closely resembles the long asynchronous conversations that people have grown accustomed to — and now expect in all aspects of their lives.
With web messaging, your company provides easy, omnichannel customer support. Your agents can chat with website visitors at the right moment based on contextual business rules that factor in things like visitor activity, customer profiles and agent availability. For example, an agent can provide high-touch assistance with a real-time co-browsing session that helps a customer complete a more complex transaction after the customer gets stuck.
Agents have a single view of each customer and their entire journey as part of the web messaging interaction. And agents can become more productive as they handle multiple asynchronous conversations at the same time. Rabobank, a pioneering bank in the Netherlands, experienced a 25% productivity gain with asynchronous web messaging.
For the first time, email has overtaken voice as the most common method for reaching customer service, according to the Genesys report. But email isn’t the most preferred channel for interactions — just 14% of respondents selected email as their top channel.
Millennials and Gen Z show a stronger preference for digital channels — and organizations must provide seamless digital experiences to survive in the long term. Many customers like to engage at their own pace and on their own schedule, without being tied to real-time conversations.
A contact center solution that offers “anywhere, anytime” interactions across devices — whether that’s desktop or a smartphone — gives customers the 24/7 always-on communication they expect. If an agent isn’t available when the customer initiates an interaction, they can always converse with a bot and return later to pick up the conversation.
Discover how async web messaging puts your prospects and customers in control, engaging with your business whenever it’s convenient for them — at any time, on any device. You’ll strengthen connections and build loyalty by delivering empathy in every interaction 24/7.