It’s no longer simple to interact with customers. They want more from businesses than ever; expecting companies to be anticipatory to help meet their individual needs. Proactive engagement solutions – interacting with consumers through automated voice, text and email messages – have taken a quantum leap over the past decade. An accelerated evolution from archaic “call blasters” to state-of-the art, cloud-based platforms has taken place. But many companies still aren’t familiar with the advanced features and benefits these systems provide – whether tracking and leveraging interactions through other self-service solutions, enabling personalized communication and transactions, or learning from consumers’ past behavior to more effectively and conveniently interact with them.
We run across outdated beliefs from time to time as we consult with companies on how they can engage and move their customers to action at lower costs through proactive engagement applications. There are five misunderstandings that we come across with enough frequency that we thought we should do some fact-finding:
Myth #1: It’s just a mass blast to your customers
Those new to the idea of proactive engagement, or still using an antiquated system for such messages, sometimes view it as a way to blast a notification to a broad set of customers. But unless they’re still using an unsophisticated platform or service to engage with consumers, that’s simply not the case anymore. Many modern proactive engagement platforms use cutting-edge technology to orchestrate multiple channels (e.g., text messages, automated voice and email) according to customer preferences, pinpoint ideal times of day and languages for contact, identify mobile numbers, integrate with systems of record and enable complex interactions. The “call blast” should be considered a thing of the past.
Myth #2: All you need is a predictive dialer to reach your customers
While predictive dialers are a useful tool for enhancing the efficiency of agents, improving the reach of a contact center and lowering operational costs, there are a number of key issues they don’t address. Predictive dialers still involve live calls that come at a significant cost – typically $12 or more per call, according to a 2014 Forrester report. Not only can text messages and automated voice calls be deployed at a small fraction of that cost, but consumers have now come to expect and appreciate automated messages and often prefer not to interact with a live agent; 59% of consumers agree that automated self-service options have improved customer service.
Myth #3: It’s invasive to get communication from companies
While some companies worry that their customers won’t welcome messages from them, more than 75% of consumers report that these messages from companies with whom they do business are extremely helpful and welcome. Research highlights that the most valued messages are critical notices, including credit fraud alerts, power outages and appointment and prescription refill reminders. In fact, 70% believe these communications could have helped them avoid related issues in the past.
Myth #4: Any recorded message is a robocall
The term robocall first came in to vogue in 2008 to describe prerecorded blast messages from political campaigns in that contentious election year. The federal regulatory agencies soon picked up on the term, with first the FTC and then the FCC using robocall to publicize their rules restricting prerecorded commercial telemarketing calls. At first, the agencies were careful to point out that neither the term nor their rules applied to informational messages “that notify recipients, for example, that their flight has been cancelled, an appliance they ordered will be delivered at a certain time, or that their child’s school opening is delayed.” Unfortunately that distinction did not last long and soon the commissions began using the term to describe any automated message regardless of intent, even as they continued to draw a clear line between marketing and informational messages in their rulemaking. While those rules continue to place significant restrictions on marketing messages, they also allow the use of prerecorded voice and automated text messages for informational and emergency purposes.
Myth #5: It’s illegal to contact consumers with prerecorded voice or automated text messages
Even though the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) places restrictions on the use of prerecorded voice and automated text messages, they are not illegal. It’s important to comply with the law’s specific requirements, but if you do so, you’ll be joining leading companies of all sizes and in all industries who use them to reach their customers.
To learn more about how you can benefit from proactively engaging with your customers and learn what customers really want from the companies they do business with, check out our whitepaper with more details.