Web Messaging Creates Empathetic Conversations at Rabobank

It’s a common misconception that digital technologies make customer interactions more efficient and less personal. But by using web messaging capabilities, Rabobank moved from using traditional live chat tools to creating customer interactions that are more natural and empathetic — fostering genuine ongoing conversations that build loyalty and trust.

Web messaging enables brands to establish long-lasting persistent conversations with their customers. Conversations can last as long as needed for a successful resolution, allowing both the customer and the employee to conveniently resume conversations at any time throughout the entire journey lifecycle. It also gives brands a 24/7 presence on their web or mobile app.

Web messaging is the evolution of live web chat, offering a natural conversational experience and following the customer journey without interruption. The synchronous nature of live web chat was a pitfall since it mimics a voice conversation and terminates if one party steps away.

By taking away the pressure to resolve a query instantly because the customer is waiting, agents can truly understand the situation and find the optimal outcome. Similarly, customers are busy and doing multiple things. Allowing customers to stay in touch in their own time offers a far more convenient experience.

A Shift to Digital Engagement and Web Messaging

Rabobank, a Dutch-headquartered cooperative bank with a 125-year history, is on a mission to build a better world and provide outstanding service to its millions of customers. Instrumental to its service strategy is a shift to conversational banking with web messaging at the heart of its approach to digital engagement. This shift also led to a 25% efficiency gain over call handling, enabling the bank to serve more customers without adding headcount.

I recently spoke with Frodo de Poortere and Chris den Arend, Digital Channel Experts at Rabobank, to learn more about the company’s move from live chat to web messaging. Frodo, Product Manager and Product Owner for the bank’s virtual assistants and messaging channels; and Chris, Solution Architect in the conversational banking department, also explain how they manage the customer experience in this channel — and what successes and challenges they’ve experienced along the way.

What was the business case for moving from live chat to web messaging?

Chris den Arend: When we went to web messaging, we transitioned from synchronous to asynchronous functionality. This gives customers a ‘WhatsApp-type’ experience, allowing them to leave the conversation and come back. They can also review, download or continue their previous conversations. It creates trust and opens a communication channel with the customer. Previously, if they clicked the wrong button, the conversation was gone. This gives them comfort that they can leave or close their conversation and pick it up again in the future.

Frodo de Poortere: Some strategic conversations can stretch over a long period of time. Questions about mortgage products, for example, can continue for hours or days. You want to have an open channel with the customer and asynchronous web messaging works perfectly.

What is the customer’s experience of engaging with your web messaging channel?

Frodo: Customers can engage with web messaging in the Rabobank app or on our website. If they are not authenticated, we show a short message, nudging them to log in and receive a faster service. This is true, because when we know who they are we can help right away.

If there is a gap in the conversation — the agent is working on something or the customer walks away — we send a push notification to alert the customer that something new happened in the messaging conversation. This notification ensures the customer gets back to the right place in the app. There is also a floating chat icon with an indicator signal that tells the customer a new message is waiting for them. We try to show the customer that they can leave the conversation and come back and resume it. Customers are happy with the experience.

Chris: At the moment, customers can send screenshots and images. We’ll soon add the functionality where they can send PDFs, such as mortgage and insurance documents since those need to be delivered at certain moments.

How do you gather customer sentiment and feedback for ongoing conversations? 

Frodo: We have not developed a fool-proof approach. Currently, when you close the chat, there is a feedback field asking the customer to provide for a star rating. But more than 50% of web messaging interactions are resolved by a chatbot that directs them to a specific area of the app to allow them to self-serve. The majority never come back to web messaging to close the conversation. In practice, only the people with more complex needs stay on to close the conversation.

To get better insights, we recently started to email a survey to a percentage of customers who have interacted with us. We are also creating end-to-end integrations in our chatbot. This means that our customers can, for example, block their debit cards or book a consultation with an advisor during the chatbot conversation without escalating to an agent or navigating to another part of the app. For these types of journeys, a short rating at the end has proven to be sufficient.

How many conversations do employees handle and how do you measure productivity?

Chris: It depends on the department and what queue they’re working in. In customer support, employees are multiskilled, blending voice calls and messaging at the same time. Voice calls would take priority in terms of response time.

With live chat it was easy to measure average handle time. It’s now more complicated since agents handle up to four web messaging conversations at one time. This makes conversations a bit longer, but agents can do more of them. Measurement and KPIs are areas we are working on.

What’s the benefit of making customers authenticate in a web messaging conversation?

Frodo: As a bank, we have a lot of delicate processes. We have a solid authentication process when you log into the app or on the desktop. It gives us the confidence to help you with a lot more questions without directing you to the voice channel, forcing the customer out of their channel of choice and taking up their time with verification questions.

It also allows us to personalize the experience by showing the customer that they are recognized. We can use their first name to say hello, we know their products and the processes that are currently in progress. It can create a very positive customer experience.

Read the full Rabobank story to learn more.

Top Benefits of Web Messaging

  • Web messaging helps build lasting relationships with customers, creating an open channel for inbound and proactive outbound communication.
  • It integrates with bots that understand intent, offering quick replies and shortcuts.
  • Web messaging allows customers to send and receive attachments.
  • Genesys Agent Assist provides agent support and best available answers in a knowledge assistance panel.
  • With high-quality conversations, organizations capture high-quality data, allowing them to optimize the customer experience.