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COVID-19: Tips For Effective Communication Using Messaging

The measures to counter the spread of the coronavirus are putting a lot of strain on many organizations. We are all struggling with similar communication challenges. How do you inform employees, customers or patients during a continuously changing situation? And how can you use messaging channels, such as WhatsApp, to do this effectively?

As everyone has similar questions, we are more than happy to share our experiences with you. We will make sure to add any useful tips as soon as we come across them.

1. How to filter the most pressing questions out of many WhatsApp conversations

With many customers asking you questions at the same time, it becomes impossible to answer them all at once. In addition to a chronological approach, you can also decide to let customers indicate the urgency of their question themselves. This can be a request for urgent contact, but also a request for general information, which – given the high volume – will have to wait a while. You can communicate these expectations to your customer after they contact you by having them indicate the urgency of their request. WhatsApp buttons (beta) are a perfect way to do this. Your customers can indicate the priority with just a tap on their screen.

WhatsApp Business buttons

It will be up to you to then decide what to do with the customer’s feedback. You can choose to label conversations on your dashboard as “urgent,” letting agents know which conversations have priority. You can also choose to label these calls so they are reviewed by a designated group of agents who specialize in urgency, delivery times, or flight information. Anything to help you continue prioritizing in times of extreme demand – in the most efficient way possible.

2. How to answer customer queries via WhatsApp beyond the 24-hour frame

If you have extremely high conversation volumes on WhatsApp due to the coronavirus, you may not be able to respond to all questions within 24 hours. If you still want to be able to respond after that support window expires, WhatsApp requires you to use a message template. Such a template includes a message in a format that has been pre-approved by WhatsApp.

Since many of our customers have expressed their interest in being able to respond to customer queries beyond 24-hours, we have created specific templates for messages concerning the coronavirus. The templates are available to anyone who would like to use them.

In the same vein, WhatsApp requires the use of a template if you want to proactively inform your customers about important coronavirus-related news via WhatsApp. We also provide WhatsApp-approved templates that you can use for this purpose. WhatsApp’s opt-in rules for sending proactive messages still apply.

whatsapp template message corona

Please note that these templates still need to be integrated into the messaging software you are using. We can help you with this integration, of course. Just send us an e-mail at tips@saysimple.nl.

3. How to direct customer contact to channels you can use outside the office

Many customer service departments use phone lines. Now that all your employees are suddenly working from home temporarily, we understand how difficult it might be to continue helping your customers over the phone. This may either be due to technical reasons or because the home environment is not always suitable for making calls. We have also noticed a significant uptick in the volume of incoming questions for organizations. These are all questions you want to be able to answer consistently and quickly.

Setting up a WhatsApp connection with your organization’s landline is an easy and quick solution to manage this load. Non-urgent questions can then be filtered through a selection menu on the phone (“Select option 1 to continue the conversation on WhatsApp”). This frees up your lines for people with urgent or difficult questions you would like to assist, especially during these times.

4. How to use social messaging for high volumes of customer queries

Companies with high levels of customer contact, such as airlines and travel organizations, get a lot of questions about flights, bookings, and local safety. The vast number of questions your company deals with are all essentially similar in nature. Needless to say, you want to be able to help concerned customers in the most personal way possible, while staying consistent in providing the right information.

Social messaging channels such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger help improve the efficiency of handling these types of questions. Bots, in turn, can help reduce some of the load in messaging. Just a few steps removed from using bots is to make sure you have good default replies, which you then communicate to all members of your Customer Support team on a daily basis. This ensures that every customer gets the same answer. If you are using WhatsApp Business, you can also use Message Templates for default replies. This will help your team handle high volumes even more efficiently.

To find out more about using WhatsApp for your business, download our WhatsApp Playbook.

5. How to simply direct customer queries to the right department using a routing robot

When a company suddenly has to deal with an increasing number of questions about the coronavirus or health risks, it might be useful to have such questions answered by a select group of employees who specialize in them. An effective tool to help with this, as we saw with one of our customers, is an easy-to-install routing robot.

This bot can assign any COVID-19 questions to a specialized team. This will help focus the teams, meaning that the crisis does not necessarily have to affect any “regular” incoming questions. If you are unable to install a bot and get a lot of coronavirus-related questions, consider tagging only those conversations that are not about the coronavirus. You can have those answered by a select group of employees, leaving the rest of your team available for pressing questions.

6. How to quickly inform a large group of people using bulk text messaging

There are a lot of possibilities nowadays to share information with large groups of people, both inside and outside your company. If you are not yet using these tools, such as Slack or G-Suite, you may not have room to implement them during a crisis situation. It is more effective in that case to use resources that your target group already know and use, one that does not require any specific action from each individual recipient. So, it can be quite beneficial to be able to inform everyone of an important message or some new information. This can be done with very little effort by sending a bulk text message.

When you e-mail new information to a group of customers, patients, or employees, you can follow this up with a bulk text message, asking all recipients to read their e-mail immediately. This ensures that your message still gets the attention it deserves, regardless of it being sent in the evening, on the weekend, or to an overflowing inbox. Especially useful: ask readers to confirm they have read your message. You will then know for sure everyone has been informed in time.

Together we learn more

We would like to wish everyone all the best in managing this crisis. The SaySimple team is ready to help you work out any solution you may need. Any new tips will be shared with you straight away. If you would like to submit a tip or ask us about any of the topics above, please get in touch with us via tips@saysimple.nl

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