Every mode of communication has had its day.
As technology advances, so does the way we communicate. When the Internet took the world by storm, people could communicate with each other faster—even in an instant—from anywhere in the world, at any time.
Email grew in popularity for casual and professional communication and has taken a stronghold ever since. But as the world undergoes digital transformations for business, services, and commerce, inboxes are becoming crowded and can’t keep up with the growing demand.
In 2020, the way brands interact with customers changed forever, launching a growing demand for digital engagement. With 84% of consumers shopping online, 2020 accelerated an already-trending shift in the way customers connected with brands to interact and shop.
Customers want to chat with you, and the easier you can make this for them, the better. Using conversational AI is the proven track to providing instant messaging and interaction resolution at scale—whether you’re using it for support, marketing, or sales.
You might be thinking, “But we already use automation to deliver tailored, quick response emails and in our marketing strategy.” Adding email to the CX strategy can bear fruit, but when it comes to instant brand interactions, it’s best to move brands away from email.
Let’s find out why.
1. The next generation is tired of email and actively moving away from it
If you’re using email as your primary communication tool with customers, you’re falling behind.
Researchers found that Gen Z workers are moving to new tools to collaborate. They prefer video chat on tools like Zoom and Skype, instant messaging using iMessage and Slack, and live collaborative docs using GSuite and Microsoft Teams.
Your customers are no different. Truth is, customers want to interact with brands 24/7. They also want to have these interactions on the channels they prefer, including web chat, in-app chat, SMS, or social media. In fact, 64% of customers started using a new customer service channel in 2020, and 55% of shoppers say they want a chatbot to provide support in addition to customer service.
It’s time to come to terms with the fact that email is no longer the channel your customers prefer to reach you on. And if you don’t have other channels for brand interactions, they won’t make the effort to reach you at all.
2. Email turnaround time is slow and can take people anywhere from 12-72 hours to respond
In a digital space, customers expect immediate access to your brand, and with that, immediate answers to the questions and queries that will seal the deal.
Email turnaround can take anywhere from 12-72 hours—and customers want information faster than that. Just as frustration rises when they’re put on hold over the phone, long email wait times can cause restlessness, and increases the risk of steering them directly into the hands of competition.
And when we say instant interactions, we mean instant. The difference between the best checkout conversion rates and the worst checkout conversion rates is only 50 seconds. If your brand can’t be there in customers’ moments of decision, you’re losing out on sales.
Adding conversational AI as the first layer of brand interaction allows you to provide quick and effective opportunities to offer product recommendations, cross sell or upsell, respond to FAQs, predict needs from data insights, provide checkout assistance, and swiftly send customers to the finish line.
And for situations that still require email support, having that automation-first approach will decrease your turnaround as well—Raise Marketplace’s bot is able to resolve 60% of all brand interactions, reducing the wait times for email, live chat, and phone support.
3. It’s a drag on your teams
You log into your inbox, and the reality is overwhelming. Hundreds of emails stare you in the face, requiring your attention and awaiting your response. You start moving through the list, and another comes in, then another. By the time you’re done tackling them, half the day has been wasted, and your other priorities are off track and off schedule.
For many workers, the flaws of human-first, email-first interactions were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. With face-to-face communication limited, inboxes overflowed. And when people can no longer juggle their work alongside a never-ending list of emails to reply to, the expectations of their job become unrealistic.
Agents are likely to become overwhelmed, overworked, and look for other employment opportunities. According to MetricNet, hiring and training accounts for the largest lift in per ticket support costs for companies in North America.
With email in the frontlines of your customer support strategy, you’re bound to disappoint. And the result? High attrition and employee turnover, equalling a more costly burden to your brand’s hiring and retention strategy.
4. Email is expensive, inefficient and can result in missed revenue opportunities
As your brand grows and more customers reach out to talk, using email as the primary tool for interaction breaks. The traditional approach—sending an inquiry and hours or days for a response—negatively affects the employee experience (EX) and CX, and ultimately, your bottom line.
5. It has a low open rate
If you’re using email beyond customer support inquiries to lead marketing campaigns, the benchmarks are surprisingly low. In Campaign Monitor’s high-level overview of email marketing statistics across industries for 2020, they found an average open rate of 18%, average click-through rate of 2.6%, and average click-to-open rate of 14.1%.
With many of your favourite brands using this same approach, people are likely selecting the trash icon before they can even read what brands have to say. Conversational AI proposes you meet your customers where they are to have the most revenue-driving effect.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: customers today expect instant access to your brand, as well as immediate response. Channels like phone and email are dying out as a result—email wait times are way too long and honestly no one wants to deal with IVR or being on hold.
69% of US consumers who message businesses say that being able to message a business helps them feel more confident about the brand. Prioritize chat over your other brand interactions, and make them personal and proactive.
6. On its own, email doesn’t foster holistic CX
Done right, emails are a great addition to your CX strategy, but brands need to recognize that this doesn’t meet every customer’s needs. If you’re using email as the primary or only avenue for brand interactions, you’re missing out on the opportunity to create holistic CX that spans across the entire customer journey.
The best approach is to find a brand interaction platform that fuels your automated CX (ACX®). This interaction layer sits at the frontline of all brand interactions to facilitate engagement through automation and conversational AI. If you think of it as an old-timey switchboard, the interaction layer receives interactions from all the channels on which your brand is present, understands their intent, and either resolves them or routes them to the right agent at the right time.
The brand interaction platform integrates with your backend systems to store, update, and pull customer data. Customer profiles are updated in real-time, based on each interaction, conversation, and web event. The AI also relies on the customer data to provide a curated experience, serving specific answers, routing an inquiry to the correct team, providing tailored offers or promotions, and more.
Can your email-first interaction strategy do that?