Since we launched the WhatsApp integration for Casengo in closed beta 2 months ago, a few dozen companies have been testing it enthusiastically. Very exciting times for both our testers and our team; together, we discovered the power of WhatsApp as a customer service tool. One of our recent testers reported having made two deals on his very first testing day!

As a reader of this blog, you’re aware by now how crucial it is to meet customers where they are and serve them on their preferred channels. Facebook used to be considered an effective way to do this, but it now has very little reach. With WhatsApp, however, you send a message that your customer receives immediately – on a device (s)he carries along at all times (especially if their wrist is adorned with an Apple Watch). It’s gold.

Let’s talk conversion

OK – so how do you go about it? Fortunately for Casengo users, helping (potential) customers over WhatsApp no longer involves fat fingers or a tiny smartphone screen: users of our WhatsApp integration are comfortably typing away on their desktop, laptop, or tablet/smartphone if they insist. Straight from the Casengo inbox, we enable them to have WhatsApp conversations just as easily as conversations through email, live chat or social media.

But let’s talk conversion. Conversion is all about responding in the right way at the right time. And the right time, these days, is as soon as humanly possible. Now, if your company’s name figures in your customers’ WhatsApp contact list, what’s stopping them to ask a question as it pops into their head whilst browsing your website or even reading one of your magazine ads?

Show them you care

If you’re smart enough to respond right away and satisfy their curiosity, they’re well on their way to what might be considered an impulse purchase – a purchase of a product that might not even have been on their wish list if it wasn’t for WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is equally interesting for existing customers. Problems with a purchased product? Allow your customers to grab their smartphone and app their question. And surprise them: they’ll be happy to see the words ‘typing…’ underneath their WhatsApp message very soon indeed. You’re coming to their rescue – because you care.

Offer personalised services

In India, where WhatsApp is even hotter than here in the Netherlands, customer service through WhatsApp has an astounding conversion rate – as high as 80%. “India's favourite instant messaging app,” the India Times reports, “is now being used (…) to promote, sell, and offer after-sale-services.”

India’s pioneers in customer service through WhatsApp were small and medium entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, however, even big luxury brands (Cartier, Armani, Diesel) are WhatsApping their way into extraordinary customer service.

Brick-and-mortar businesses are finding that customer service through WhatsApp is the most effective (and cost-effective) way to keep in touch with their regular customers. “Selling luxury is all about offering personalised services,” a CEO explains in the India Times article. “Platforms like WhatsApp enable that, which is why brands encourage their store managers to make an extensive use of it.”

What’s that – you’re not making use of it at all? Sign up for our closed beta! Enter your email address here to test WhatsApp for Casengo, and boost both your conversion and your customer satisfaction rate - before your competitors do.

Our phone and chat lines haven’t stopped buzzing since news got round about our new WhatsApp integration. Our hackathon in January resulted in a working prototype, making Casengo the first ever multichannel platform to integrate WhatsApp successfully.

We started testing it internally for a few weeks, then moved onto a closed beta programme. Our beloved guinea pigs are now able to manage WhatsApp conversations just as easily as emails, chat messages and social media posts, using the Casengo team inbox. Casengo enables them to prioritize messages, assign conversations to team members, view the customer’s history and use pre-set responses to react faster than ever.

Since the start of our WhatsApp adventure, we added the following features:

  • conversation and case management
  • team inbox
  • follow up with live chat and email
  • contact online / offline status
  • contact/agent typing

Coming up: bigger volumes! We’re now looking for closed beta testers expecting to get 50 to 100 WhatsApp messages a day. Is your company interested in boosting productivity and conversion using WhatsApp for your customer service? Enter your email address here.

We’ll be moving onto open beta this month - stay tuned!

Starting to use any new system can seem overwhelming, but fortunately Casengo isn’t the sort of software with a steep learning curve. You can start using it in a matter of minutes. One part of Casengo that we highly recommend is the knowledge base. This nifty feature, which can be as simple or as complex as you’d like to make it, is guaranteed to make your working life easier.

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What’s a knowledge base?

You can use your knowledge base (KB) to easily share relevant bits of information with your customers. Its main function is to fuel your online list of frequently asked questions (FAQs). And it can also suggest answers automatically when an online visitor asks a question through live chat. A knowledge base basically empowers and stimulates your customers to quickly find the answer to any question they may have. Self-service rules!

All Casengo customers are given a company domain on the Casengo server to use as their very own. Find yours right now at https://yoursubdomain.casengo.com.

When you get started, your KB will be frighteningly empty. All that freedom! Where to begin? That’s why we’ve put together some step-by-step instructions to get you started. Keep in mind that you don’t have to do a whole lot of work to assemble masses of info before you start using your KB. Just add information as and when you need it, and let it grow from there. And don’t forget to add your company logo!

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Step 1: Learn how to use your knowledge base effectively

When filling your KB with questions and answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs), remember all the information in your KB is there for one reason and one reason only: to give potential or existing customers a good and fast answer to a likely question. It’s mostly about obvious stuff, such as payment options, but also about information that didn’t fit neatly into the structure of your website. Don’t be afraid to have just a couple of FAQs in your KB if that’s all you think you need.

You might think that a chock-full KB makes your company look much bigger and more important, but all you’re really doing is hiding the necessary information amongst a lot of unnecessary stuff. And the harder you make it for customers to find the info they need, the less likely they are to buy from you, which is counterproductive. So keep it simple.

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Step 2: start offering live chat on your website (if you don’t already)

The knowledge base can be a tremendous asset to live chat. If you combine them, each question entered through live chat is first ‘filtered’ in case it’s an FAQ. If you are using Casengo and have enabled pre-chat, Casengo will provide the relevant articles from your knowledge base in response to each customer’s chat request.

These pre-made responses save time for both you and your customers: the latter are presented with the most relevant link(s) to answer their question and might not even need a live chat conversation any more. And the FAQs also save you time as they make it easier for your customers to help themselves without needing to engage with you. But because they know that you’re there to chat with them if they need it, you get the best of both worlds.

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Step 3: Show ’em what you got!

Many businesses seem to think that creating nifty features is enough, but unfortunately that’s not the case: you’ve got to show people what you’ve got. And with a bit of effort up front, you’ll be able to save your customers (and yourselves) an awful lot of time down the track.

So now that you’ve put all this work into putting together the most effective KB possible, you’d better share it with the world. Write a nifty little explanation that you can post on your company’s Facebook Page. Include a link in a prominent place – probably on every page – on your website. Tweet about it. And depending on the type of company you run, a short blurb in your email signature could be just the thing to alert loyal clients to the existence of your new knowledge base.

It can be tempting to believe that building an effective website requires an enormous budget and a massive team, but the truth is that the simplest solutions are often the most effective. When you’re trying to figure out how to compile the best possible knowledge base, remember to make it as simple as possible – without overdoing it. As Einstein allegedly said: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

Digital leads the way! That’s the main takeaway from the latest survey in international consulting behemoth PwC’s ongoing Consumer Intelligence series. The project, which quizzed more than 1,000 respondents, aims to uncover the truth about how consumers feel about the various channels available to them when accessing customer service.

When it comes to customer service, companies have been slow to keep up with the changing preferences of today’s consumers. The near-ubiquity of the internet throughout the West has meant that some 60% of people in the US have not just one but a selection of online channels in their pockets or handbags, almost 24 hours a day (and 80% even sleep with their phones switched on).

Sadly, far too many businesses have chosen to ignore reality in favour of what suits their old-fashioned company structure and working methods, and tend to think of customer service as a ‘damage control’ option rather than what it has become: something that the average respondent has contacted more than twice in the past 6-9 months.

Pay to call you? Not likely!

Whoever came up with the idea that customers should pay to get assistance must have considered himself a sheer genius. “Not only will we make money to cover our customer service costs, but it actually provides us with an incentive to do things badly! Win-win!”

Sorry – it was fun while it lasted, but the party’s over. The vast majority of respondents don’t want to pay for the ‘privilege’ of using their preferred contact method, regardless of what it is. And that goes for the channels they’re highly satisfied with too.

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Unhappy customers still spread the word

While 41% of respondents are happy to use online chat to get in touch, it’s not their favourite digital channel. That honour goes to email, with 55% of those surveyed being keen on the medium. And it seems that the old cliché still holds true: an unhappy customer tells far more people about their experience than a happy one does. “Disgruntled customers will air their grievances on more venues (2.1) than those who had a good encounter (1.7).”

In other words: you have more to lose by giving poor service than you stand to gain by providing good service. That, though, is as it should be. You want your customers to be able to take your great service for granted, right?

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Don’t just be fast, be effective

Time and again, customers share the same concerns about customer service levels, which makes us wonder why so many businesses still aren’t getting the message. A hefty 66% of respondents said that they were somewhat to very dissatisfied with digital customer service channels.

For 41% of these, satisfaction would be increased if the company would simply fix the customer’s problem. Yes, you read that right – customers simply want you to help them. They want to deal with reps who show more concern about their specific problem and are more knowledgeable about the issues raised. The fastest response times in the world won’t get you far if you’re still not addressing the reason the customer contacted you in the first place.

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The results of the PwC survey shouldn’t be earth-shattering, yet it seems that they repeat a message that many businesses today just don’t want to hear. The world of customer service has changed, and it’s not going back. You need to be able to provide fast and – much more importantly – effective service to the people who essentially pay your wages.

The main takeaway for businesses could be summed up in just a single word: care. You’d better care about your customers, care about what they want and what they need from your business. And it seems that what they want, right now, is for you to solve their customer service problems. Do you care enough to do so?

Customer service is one of the most effective marketing tools a company has at its disposal. Providing prompt and effective responses to customer queries is the best way to encourage a sale.

Think of it this way: if a customer asked you a question in real life, you wouldn’t ignore it, give a robot-like canned reply, or just wave vaguely. You would do your very best to provide a helpful answer. Surprise surprise, online customer service is no different.

Unfortunately, the poor standard of online service today suggests that many web store owners simply think “build it, and the customers will come”. They’re wrong: good customer service is a surefire way to ensure more repeat business and ultimately improve your bottom line.

See things through the customer’s eyes

Customer service is not just a box to be ticked when you’re setting up a company; the customers are your business’s raison d’être and if you want to maximise profits, you’d better treat them accordingly.

Virgin Hotels know this: in their new Chicago building the phone in each room has just one button aside from the dial pad. That button is labelled ‘YES!’ and is the only one guests need when they want something. No need to figure out whether they need the kitchens, the front desk, the valet, the housekeeping department … just press the button and let the company do the rest of the work. That’s truly customer-oriented service.

It’s the polar opposite of the email service I received from another international brand, when the response to my query was to ask me to click on a link and trawl through a list of all of their offices worldwide to find out which one I should contact. Did they get my business? I’ll let you guess.

Make it personal

Doing business online can feel anonymous. Sometimes that’s okay, but your business might attract the type of customer who wants to feel recognised and appreciated. I recently bought some crockery from Dutch webshop Dames van de Thee. The transaction was straightforward and I didn’t need – nor want – any additional correspondence from the business.

But they found a way to show me that my business was appreciated by tucking two generously-sized samples of loose tea into the parcel, along with some teabags. That was enough to show me that my purchase was appreciated, they were detail-oriented, and they really hoped I would come back.

Even when doing business online, actions can speak louder than words. That little gesture was much more effective than the most gushing email telling me how much they appreciated my business.

Customer service: not an optional extra

In face-to-face retail, the motto is “If the customer can’t see a price, chances are they won’t buy it.” That isn’t really an issue in a webshop (if it is, you need to have an urgent discussion with your web designer). But it has an online equivalent – if the customer can’t get answers to their questions, chances are they won’t be back.

Most online retailers don’t realise this. They see customer service as an optional extra, a ‘nice-to-have’, but something that doesn’t impact their bottom line. They couldn’t be more wrong! A rapid reply is a key factor in determining whether or not a customer will go ahead with a purchase.

More than half of people polled in one study said that lack of interaction with a real live person had caused them not to purchase online. Remember, though, that the quality of your response is at least as important as the speed. Don’t be tempted to use live chat if you don’t have the time to compose a helpful reply. Take it to email and do it right.