Man in an office, viewing a tablet.

Enterprise chat can do everything from ordering pizza to assisting customers.

Consumers have embraced messaging apps. According to Mobile World Congress, as of September 2016, the number of active users topped 4 billion worldwide across popular services such as WhatsApp, Line, Kik, Telegram and WeChat. What’s more, industry power players such as Google and Facebook are also doubling down on their messaging investment. Yet how do companies translate the rise of enterprise chat initiatives into more lucrative and long-term customer relationships?

Conversational Commerce

Chatbots are coming. They now supply everything from pizza ordering services to customer order inquiries, and more than 1.5 billion people interact with chatbots in some capacity each year. The problem? With technology still maturing, bots don’t always work as intended. According to Investopedia, Facebook is pulling back on its chatbot rollout after discovering that bots failed to answer customer requests 70 percent of the time. As a result, there’s a vested interest in developing better AI tools that encourage “conversational commerce,” which is the ability for consumers to naturally interact with chatbots using everyday language and get straightforward answers to product or service questions.

For enterprises, it’s worth knowing that while this kind of casual conversing won’t happen overnight, it’s the next step in bot evolution and comes with big potential. If bots can handle day-to-day customer inquiries while staff focus on escalated concerns and overall performance, the results are both better sales numbers and reduced overhead.

The Marketing Message

Along with the potential for bot automation and conversation, room exists to expand the marketing impact of messaging apps. There’s already movement on this front — as noted by Adweek, apps such as WeChat and Line are now used as hubs to book transportation or pay bills, while others such as Snapchat or Allo maintain their focus on the messaging experience itself. Meanwhile, according to Digital Trends, messaging app Viber will include an instant shopping feature that allows users to search for products from the application itself.

Bottom line? It’s not enough for enterprise chat and messaging apps to simply provide a platform for communication. Mobile-first users now demand multiple options to connect in addition to value-added features that mimic (or replace) the functions of stand-alone apps. Done right, marketing via messaging platforms offers a great way to organically integrate brands and become a part of the social user’s daily experience.

Simply Meaningful

Beyond easy conversation and solid marketing messages, there’s a larger benefit on the horizon for messaging applications: meaningful engagement. Beyond simply selling a product or driving brand loyalty, enterprises are now looking for ways to meaningfully connect with consumers and engage them in relevant discussions about company strategy, mission statements, and social impacts. Messaging apps offer the ideal platform to forge this connection, but it takes work.

First, companies must commit to reading and answering messages ASAP. This demands a combination of AI-driven chatbots and human staff able to recognize when queries can be handled by front-line digital agents and when they need to step in and take control. This boils down to customer value. Consumers expect their messages to be returned in less than a day, with less than an hour as the ideal benchmark. If companies can quickly analyze, parse, and respond to incoming messages, it goes a long way toward demonstrating corporate priorities.

Simplicity is the next step, and this demands data to drive intelligent chatbots and ensure consumer purchasing and service histories are tied to their profiles and accounts. There are few things more anger-inducing for customers than being asked to repeat the history and nature of their issue over and over. By simplifying the data collection process and streamlining initial contact, enterprise chat applications can help encourage meaningful and long-term engagement.

Messaging is the future of enterprise e-commerce and interaction. Want to get ahead? Get ready for conversational e-commerce, understand the value of marketing in the message, and make the effort to drive meaningful conversation.

For more information on enterprise chat services, connect with a Vonage Business representative.

About Doug Bonderud

Doug Bonderud is an award-winning freelance writer with a passion for technology and innovation. His ability to create compelling, thought-provoking and timely content helps empower the voice of corporate vision. From UCaaS to VoIP to cloud computing, Doug has experience covering all aspects of evolving digital environments and their effects on both people and policies.

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Call recording solutions can help improve training and customer service.

“Your call is being recorded for quality assurance purposes.”

This statement has become part of the customer service lexicon. It’s as commonly heard as “Please hold,” “Thank you, come again,” and “Would you like fries with that?” What does quality assurance purposes actually mean, though? What else can companies do with those recordings? And how do call recording solutions benefit businesses?

Business Reasons to Press ‘Record’

When you think about call recording, you might envision large companies with large call centers. However, businesses of all sizes and across multiple industries often need to capture and document conversations with customers. To do so, they often rely on two types of call recording solutions: company-wide and on-demand.

Through company-wide recording, the system automatically records certain calls based on predetermined criteria. Users can’t access the recordings, but systems administrators can. With on-demand recording, the recording feature is available on an extension-by-extension basis. Users initiate the recordings and can access the files afterward.

With cloud-based call recording, files are hosted online for easy, password-protected access and greater storage capacity. These recordings help businesses with the six following situations:

1. Clear Up Customer Disputes

Occasional misunderstandings are inevitable in human communication. This is why there are so many great sitcoms, and it’s why there are so many call recording benefits for businesses.

In the past, if an employee and customer disagreed about the details about a conversation, it was one person’s word against the other’s. And since the customer is always right (even if he’s not), companies typically erred on the side of the customer’s story. This was demoralizing for employees, who couldn’t prove they were right, and frustrating for managers, who had to make amends with unhappy customers by giving them discounts or free stuff. With call recording solutions, managers can listen to disputed conversations, back up employees when they’re right, and prove when customers are wrong (in the nicest way possible, of course).

2. Reduce Legal Liabilities

More often than not, misunderstandings simply lead to a subpar customer experience, which is bad. However, in some cases, they can lead to lawsuits, which are way, way worse. Even when companies win those lawsuits, court costs can add up quickly.

Call recording helps protect companies against false claims. Simply playing the recording for the customer might be enough to make the headache go away. If not, it can be powerful evidence in court.

3. Document Customer Authorizations

Speaking of covering yourself from a legal standpoint, call recording solutions also enable companies to capture customer authorizations. This is particularly useful in healthcare, government, e-commerce, financial services, and other industries that handle sensitive data or have compliance regulations.

In the past, customers would have to fax or email written approval in order to make certain financial transactions or request private information such as medical records. However, in some cases, a verbal contract can be as good as a signature, at least when it’s recorded.

4. Train Employees

Even the most talented employees have room to grow. By listening to some calls, managers can provide specific feedback and coaching that helps their teams sell more effectively, provide better customer service, or use more appropriate business phone etiquette.

Recorded calls also provide concrete examples that managers can use when training the whole team or onboarding new employees. Given real-life examples, teams can discuss what the employee did right or wrong, or how to handle scenarios that don’t often arise but require a lot of poise.

5. Get to Know Your Customers

Most customers aren’t angry, inappropriate, or litigious. In fact, many have positive feedback, useful ideas, and great stories. By capturing these conversations, companies can use them to better understand customers, improve their processes and products, and strengthen their marketing. And when satisfied customers are particularly eloquent about why they love a company or product, marketers have ready-made testimonials and customer success stories they can use in advertising campaigns (with the customer’s approval, of course).

6. Listen More Actively

With on-demand call recording, employees can capture important calls and review the details later. Of course, they could also just take notes during the conversation, but most people can’t type, talk, and listen at the same time (at least not well). Recording the call enables them to be more engaged in the conversation, to come up with insightful questions, to fully hear the responses, and to know that any critical details are just a “Play” button away.

To record or not to record? That’s the question for your business. If any of these use cases would help you better serve customers or protect your company, it might be time to look into your options.

To learn more about call recording solutions, speak to a Vonage Business representative.

Taylor Mallory Holland

Taylor Mallory Holland is a professional writer with more than 11 years of experience writing about business, technology and health care for both media outlets and companies. Taylor understands how enterprise mobility and cloud technology can reshape industries and provide new opportunities to streamline workflows, improve employee collaboration and reimagine the customer experience. She is passionate about helping business leaders understand the impact that emerging technologies can have on communication, operations and sales and marketing.

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