Tone of voice is a crucial component of a brand’s identity and new channels of digital communication, such as messaging apps, all need subtly different approaches to make them effective. Julien Rio, Director of Marketing of RingCentral Engage Digital, outlines 5 tips for ensuring consistent messaging across all your digital communications.
Every consumer-facing sector has had to adapt to customers using digital channels to make their views known. For many that transition has taken some time, but the way customers want to engage with you is changing again, and messaging apps are becoming more and more popular for engaging with brands.
Whether it is to learn about products and services, or make contact about a complaint, customers are turning to messaging apps as a convenient way to make contact. Recent events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and before that the FlyBe collapse, are great examples of the significance of using online channels, but what about customers who want to make contact through new channels such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp – apps they use every day in their social circles?
Messaging apps, in particular, have sped up communications and created new norms that are vastly different from how we might have communicated over email with customers just a few years ago.
Messaging apps need a different tone
One of the most important things to realise when working with messaging apps as a platform is that they require a different tone of voice. There are a couple of reasons for this but the two most important are related to smartphone usage and how we use the apps in our personal lives.
Messaging channels such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Apple iMessage are mostly used on mobile devices so time spent writing and reading messages is minimal and therefore in a shorter ,more direct form than a traditional email.
Secondly, customers use messaging every day to communicate with their peers. When doing so, they send short messages, use emojis, pictures, voice messages, and keep it informal. When talking with brands, they expect to have the same kind of experience.
With that in mind, here are five tips for making your messaging effective on messaging platforms.
1/ Make it conversational
Customers do not want to receive emails copied/pasted within a messaging app. Messages should be kept short and split into multiple blocks if they are long. For example, instead of asking a long list of questions, they can send them progressively and adapt the flow to the customer’s answers, just as they would in person.
2/ Take advantage of messaging rich features
A major advantage of messaging channels is the integration of features such as file sharing, live location, and voice messages. These are used in personal communications, so expect your customers to want to use them to converse with you and think about how that may be of benefit. For example, using location data to establish an address or store location.
3/ Keep it aligned with the brand
While a less formal tone can be adopted on messaging channels, it should stay consistent with the brand identity. If a company is used to talking in a very formal way, but applies a very casual tone on messaging channels, it will be confusing for customers.
A good practice for defining the tone, that applies to any channel, is to keep in mind the target audience. If a renewable energy company is targeting Millennials, it makes sense to talk the same language as them, using their first name and emojis for example. Some companies like McDonald’s are even developing this tone of voice in their advertising, by launching campaigns only based on emojis, to talk the same language as their target audience.
4/ Train agents to use the right tone
We cannot talk about tone of voice without involving your agents. Digital channels involve written communication, and those skills are different from the ones used on the phone. Before asking them to use the right tone, it is essential to select agents with digital skills.
After defining the right tone of voice, the challenge is to implement it and train agents for it – but in a way that empowers them through guidelines, rather than strictly defining every interaction.
5/ Create chatbots adopting your tone
Chatbots are an essential part of messaging channels: on Facebook Messenger alone, more than 300,000 chatbots are currently active. Chatbots are still new for customers. To limit confusion and set the right expectations, brands should let the customer know when they are interacting with a chatbot. 59% of customers want chatbots to make it clear that they’re a bot. A common practice is to give it a name, and welcome the customer by a message like “Hi, I’m M, your personal assistant”.
Messaging to the masses
The rise of messaging for customer service requires companies to implement a number of changes to their strategy. These channels are a great opportunity to reinforce the relationship with customers, by being better aligned with their daily habits. Rather than replicating processes from other channels, companies can take advantage of messaging specificities to maximise customer satisfaction and create more personal conversations.
By Julien Rio
Director of Marketing
RingCentral Engage Digital