By Thomas Howe – CTO
If you asked for my opinion on the most important difference between texting and voice, as a communications engineer, I would say that messages don’t ring, and phones do. That fact turns out to be more important than you might imagine.
In a brilliantly simple act of engineering, old fashioned phones (the kind that you find on kitchen walls) ring when called. Starting the conversation, and ending the ringing, was as simple as picking up the handset. Finishing the conversation was as simple; you put the handset back. Phone calls start when you pick the phone up and end when you put it back. Very useful for many reasons, not least of which is knowing when to start and stop billing customers. Nowadays a ringing phone could be considered intrusive especially if you don’t know who is calling. However, a text message is not regarded as a disruption but rather welcomed.
Text messages don’t ring like phones and they can concurrently be reviewed and analyzed for content, sentiment, etc. The challenge for communications engineers is not to add ringing sounds but is instead to have some notion of when conversations start, and when they end. Unlike messaging, voice has original ideas of when sessions start and end. Without the natural boundaries of sessions, messaging is of limited utility in a business setting. Companies work on sessions, tasks, appointments, jobs, and milestones, as well as real-time communications, have to as well.
A fundamental difference between unified communications (UC) systems and TDC Bridge™ is this notion of sessions. UC systems enforce sessions around voice and video, but not messaging. TDC BRIDGE™ creates and manages messaging sessions: when they start, and when they end.
The business impact is substantial because when you have a messaging session, you can perform many important business and business process functions such as:
- Knowing when one starts, so you can greet a customer automatically or use a bot to help them get a question answered.
- Knowing when one ends so that you can say goodbye to a client, or use a bot to survey them
- Assigning a customer to an agent in a much more practical way, transferring within a session, and
resetting assignment for the session.
- Accounting for a conversation for billing and service delivery.
As you evaluate the options for adding texting to your call center, don’t forget the sessions. Most phone systems add on simple messaging and leave out sessions altogether. Businesses work on contracts, incidents, meetings, and completions – sessions all.
To learn how TDC Bridge™ can help your business, visit www.tendigitcommunications.com or text us at (888) 512-8398 (TEXT)
By Steven O’Brien
Corporate purchasing agents are under increasing pressure to manage significant buying activities with tight deadlines and even tighter budgets. As business moves at a relentless pace, buyers are turning to mobile communication as their way of ordering, paying, tracking multiple shipments and counting inventory. Mobile communication moves at their pace, and more importantly, it moves with them.
SMS text is now the chosen channel for a growing number of purchase agents. It provides them constant and immediate access to mobile sales representatives who manage the businesses accounts. Text inquiries can be read immediately whereas an email may take a few hours or even a day and the sales rep can respond while waiting in line at a food truck or sitting in a meeting.
The flexibility of texting provides a level of convenience previously unavailable to purchasing agents; such as answering questions, completing quotes on products, or order status updates as they conduct business say, from a warehouse.
While this channel of communication is convenient for the buyer, it puts added pressure on the sale rep who must convert that message into an email, wasting precious selling hours.
However, having a valid SMS messaging system setup for both customers, buyers and a sales team can improve productivity, leading to an increased bottom line and happier customers.
For more information on how TDC BRIDGE™ Intelligent Messaging Platform™ Platform can help your business text us, 888-512-8398 (TEXT).
As any dog lover will tell you, leashes are much more for the dog’s benefit than yours. Of course, a leash will help you keep keep strangers safe in his presence. But more than that, leashes keep your best friend safe in unfamiliar situations; your judgement is normally better than his. The older your dog gets, the more trained and the less energetic he’ll be, but even then, a leash is a sign of love.
Just like our furry friends, today’s conversational bots have a lot to learn before they should be allowed off leash. As artificial intelligence and conversational commerce technology is introduced in the market, their “puppy-ness” is obvious for all to see. As reported recently by the Motley Fool:
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is reportedly scaling back its chatbot efforts on Messenger after the programs failed to fulfill 70% of users’ requests. The Information reports that those requests couldn’t be handled without human agents, and bots built by outside developers “had issues” because the “technology to understand human requests wasn’t developed enough.”
Other than difficulties in determining intent, bots also have challenges in understanding emotional subtleties such as sarcasm and humor. To spur innovation in this challenging area of artificial intelligence, Amazon has established a yearly Alexa Prize to the best design for “the grand challenge of building a socialbot that can converse coherently and engagingly with humans on popular topics for 20 minutes.” Although it’s clear we will one day surmount this challenge, it also is clear how far we are from solving it, never mind at scale.
Finally, even though texting is widely preferred in many, growing demographics, the Pew Research Center reports that 19% of Americans still do not text regularly. For the 81% that do text regularly, some percentage of them do not want to interact with automation. Bots, although a breakthrough for efficiency, are still not human, and sometimes only a human will do.
If you are planning the text enablement of your company, we’d love to see your thumbs in action: text our humans at 888-512-8398 (TEXT).
By Katelyn Morgan
Millennials have grown up in an online, electronics filled, socially-networked world. They represent the future of commerce, and receive most of today’s marketing attention in an attempt to pick apart the inner-workings of their brain.
One millennial trait is the preferred method of communication: texting. Unlike the teens from the seventies and eighties, when Aqua Net reigned supreme, one might chat on the telephone with the extra -long cord, millennials hate talking on the phone.
Texting makes life easier. In fact, according to Forbes, text messages now outrank phone calls as the dominant form of communication among Millennials. 68% of 18- to 29-year-olds say that they texted “a lot,” which plunges to 47% among 30- to 49-year-olds and 26% among 50- to 64-year-olds.
So why hasn’t big business caught on? In some ways they have. However, the responders are usually bots stored with automatic replies based around the text sent. Additionally, most businesses such as banks or electric companies, don’t allow two-way text communication. It is a one and done.
TEN DIGIT Communications Intelligent Messaging TM platform allows for two-way texting communication which is designed to improve agents and customer interactions.
Think about it: You’re sitting at a baseball game, you text your food order and copy of your license to prove age and boom, beers and hot dogs delivered to you without ever leaving your seat.
What about fixing your cable and being on hold forever. If you could text an agent, have that agent, a real person, text you back while you go on with making dinner. The constant rerouting and pre-recorded voice would be eliminated, making your life easier.
TEN DIGIT ‘s platform TDC BRIDGE makes it happen. The best part is you’re texting with a human, not a machine who only gives canned responses.
By Thomas Howe
As we launched TEN DIGIT, we noticed two obvious facts seemed inconsistent
First, messaging was becoming preferred to voice, and failing to use it was quickly becoming impolite. We called this phenomena the modern call model: people message each other before they call, in order to avoid unnecessary interruptions for the other party. There’s no easier way to see if someone is available.
Second, you could walk into any business and ask to view the phone system. It was either in the closet or in the cloud, yet no business had a messaging system. The original infrastructure was built assuming that voice was how businesses should communicate. More recently, the evidence pointed at messaging as a more appropriate mode.
In a way, it felt as if communications engineers had made 140 years of missteps. We asked ourselves: What did the engineers miss? What was it that we wished we had known back then? If we had a blank slate, what would we take as our guidance?
TEN DIGIT was designed to be what should have been for business communications, based on our answers to what we wished we knew:
- Today’s conversations begin with thumbs, and only sometimes precede a call.
- People dislike all forms of waiting, such as being placed on hold.
- People dislike repeating themselves, as it feels like you weren’t heard the first time.
- Happy employees make happier customers , and angry customers make angry employees.
- Your customers choose their own technology, they don’t care about your business’s technology.
- The unification of communications might not be an important problem to solve, and it still does not actually solve any problem of your customer.
- Your cell phone number is globally unique, even though your name is not.
- All businesses lean towards software, and all that remains must be important enough to be expensive.
- The common language of humans and computers is ASCII, and all other language options require translation.
- Voice is rarely discreet, but messaging always is.
More than ever, businesses need to emphasize and improve customer service. As consumers share more experiences online, they influence ever increasing numbers of other, like-minded consumers, driving the importance of customer service to an all time high. In 2015, Facebook alone influenced 52 per cent of consumers’ online and offline purchases, up from 36 per cent in 2014. (The Drum) As a result, a failure to emphasize the improvement of customer service seriously and unnecessarily disadvantages the entirety of business, not just support. The good news is that SMS and messaging are powerful tools to increase convenience, affordability, and accessibility.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why:
According to RingCentral, 78% of people wish they could text a business, a natural result of generations of long hold times and wasted consumer time. Because customers have been forced to deal with extremely unpleasant phone experiences in the past, many will simply avoid making customer service calls entirely. Ultimately, this leads to negative customer interactions when they find themselves needing support from your company. SMS and messaging offers your customers a significant amount of convenience that is not likely to be ignored.
Know Your Customers Better
Since text messages are typically read within 4 minutes of receipt, as contrasted with emails which can take up to 4 hours, customers enjoy quicker responses over text messaging. As a result, SMS or text message surveys get better responses than emails. Consequently, customer service polls over messaging provide better readings on your entire customer service experience.
The Customer is Always Right
Because a majority of customers enjoy communicating via text message, it provides better response and experience than a forced phone call. After all, text messaging is the most used form of communication for American adults under 50 (Gallup).
Therefore, by offering them the same ability to communicate in a familiar way with your company, not only will it provide them with more options, but it will allow them to develop a much better relationship and loyalty to your brand or business.