6 Ways to Drive Interactive Text Response (ITR) App Adoption

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So you built an Interactive Text Response App. Does anyone use it?

The writing is on the Facebook Wall: Text is the new talk. And almost all of that texting and messaging is happening on mobile phones. Mobile devices have become a ubiquitous part of our lives. A 2015 Gallup poll found that 81% of smartphone owners kept their phone near them almost all of the time during their waking hours and 63% kept it near them at night, even while sleeping. Think about it, when was the last time your phone wasn’t by your side? And the apps that people are using on their phones are pretty much all messaging apps: SMS, Facebook and Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter and Twitter Direct Message, WeChat, Kik.

When we talk to enterprises these days, we find that almost everyone is aware and convinced that in order to stay current with today’s consumer preferences, they need to be able to provide customer service over one or more of these mobile text channels. For most consumers, text messages work better for our fast-paced, multi-tasking lives instead of making a phone call to an IVR or to a live agent. In fact, Aspect’s recent Consumer Experience Index found that 91% of consumers prefer to use self-service over live assistance and that 30% of Americans would contact a company more frequently if texting were an option. With the increasingly understood and accepted link between customer engagement and loyalty, more frequent interactions is a highly desired goal IF that engagement can be delivered economically.

This is where Aspect’s Interactive Text Response (ITR) apps come in. ITR apps enable consumers to engage more often in channels they already live in, know how to use and best of all, channels they want to use. They get responses back to consumers faster than would be possible with live assistance. ITR uses Natural Language Understanding to enable people to engage in personalized, conversational text interactions with an automated system. It’s as simple as asking a question and getting an answer. The sheer variety of ITR apps is limited only by our collective imaginations. You can see some examples of what’s possible here, here and here. We’re working with multiple market leading brands in the Financial Services, Retail, Automotive, CPG, hospitality and healthcare verticals TODAY to roll some of these amazing experiences out.

While Aspect has developed ITR points of view for each of these verticals, the enterprises we partner with are not short of ITR ideas either. What we’re increasingly seeing is that customer care executives worry less about which interactions to enable over ITR and more about questions of how to drive awareness and adoption.

ITR blog_Abhay

Since we think about ITR apps pretty much all day long, working, eating, sleeping and dreaming (seriously!) we’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about these issues. Awareness is the first step to adoption. After all, if you build an ITR app and no one knows about it – does it gets used? That isn’t really a difficult to answer philosophical question. The clear answer is NO. So let’s tackle awareness first. The key to driving awareness is grabbing people’s attention. The good news is that humans are primed to pay attention to novelty and to items that satisfy an existing need. Since everyone has a need to not be stuck in an IVR tree (35% of consumers in our research said they would rather clean a toilet than call customer service), and since ITR apps are definitely new, grabbing attention should be easy.

Here are 6 ways in which you can ensure widespread awareness of your ITR apps on the cheap:

Have the IVR spread the word

When they call into to your IVR or are on hold for a live agent, suggest text service as an option. In the customer care world, you’ve already done this before when you helped consumers become aware of the information on your website (“Did you know you can go to Double-U, Double-U. Double-U dot…”) and the tasks they could complete there. Better yet, offer to sign them up with a welcome text if they say yes right then.

Social Media

Tell them on your social media pages. We’ll go out on a limb and assume you have a Facebook page and Twitter handle. Introduce your ITR apps on your Facebook page and on Twitter and watch the <3 count build and shares and retweet count go through the roof. Research shows that repetition is effective and it is easy to do on social media. So don’t be afraid of repeating the posts at appropriate intervals in the first few months of rollout, especially if you offer the ITR app not just on SMS but on Facebook Messenger and Twitter DM. With Aspect ITR, you can build an ITR app once and deploy to SMS and multiple OTT channels with almost no additional re-work.

An Option on Your “Contact Us” Page

Customers may turn to your “Contact Us” page on your website for quick reference. Offer the option for ITR on this page. Display the SMS-enabled toll-free number prominently on your website – this is a great space to highlight the specific tasks users can accomplish on the ITR app.

Use Snail Mail to Speed Up Awareness

Prominently announce the new ITR channels on any piece of snail mail you send to your customers: monthly utility or credit card bills, healthcare statements, retail invoices etc. Direct mail has the advantage of repeatedly displaying the ITR news in a medium that probably has a higher open rate today compared to…

An Email

For the 10% of customers who have signed up for receiving invoices and monthly statements electronically and actually open the emails, including the information about the ITR app can be a cheap and effective way of driving awareness. If you can find a way of including the information in the email subject line (“Text us to get your next statement”) that might drive up not just awareness but also open rates for that particular email campaign.

Pilot Everything

Before you introduce ITR to the masses, invite a small, logical subset of your customer base to try it out (e.g., consumers living in a particular set of zip codes for a utility company). Typically, ITR pilots are designed to surface usability issues. What questions are being asked most frequently and how are they being phrased? What information is sought the most? Are the answers correct? Pilot awareness campaigns too. See which channels and what messages work best in signing up pilot participants. Double down on those channels for the rollout.

Show your customers how easy it can be to get service on their terms, and that fits their lifestyle. These two-way text conversations will empower your customers to do more! Learn more about ITR here.

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Abhay Prasad

Abhay is passionate about building products customer-back and thrives on making the connection between a real-world business need and the technological solution that will solve it. He is focused on developing a customer experience vision that will turn interactions into a memorable experiences for key industry verticals. He has extensive experience in working with Fortune 100 companies to identify and quantify the business value of their collaboration/customer care investments. Previous avatars have included wearing the product management cap at a Silicon Valley startup as well as leading engagements at a top-tier management consulting firm. Abhay is a graduate of Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.
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