Notifications Will Be a Differentiator in 2014 and Beyond

Posted by WNG Marketing on Tue, Dec 31, 2013 @ 08:12 AM

Some of you just shrugged and some of you with five to seven notifications showing on your smartphone right now just perked up. Notifications are an important part of our everyday life. We choose how they come to us, what they report and when it is reported.

Notifications can save lives, time, money and help keep us in the know. Think about it this way - can you imagine NOT getting your notifications? 

What We’re Seeing

We process billions of Notifications for our clients each year and we showed an amazingdescribe the image increase over 2013. Our clients, some of the largest brands in the world who have been using notifications for years, are seeing the benefits and feeling impact across their businesses. SMS or text notifications showed the most rapid growth with a 51% increase over the last year. 

Expectations Will Only Get Higher

In 2014, we expect that mobile usage to grow at the same rate or higher as customers continue to expect the best possible service and experience on their preferred communication channels; whether that is text, email, social media or phone. Communicating with your customers on their desired communication channel is important but for the best possible results, this needs to be integrated with the best possible customer experience. 

Proactive Notifications

Notifying someone prior to an event versus after one may garner you that differentiating edge you’ve been looking for. Communicating with your customers proactively is another way to improve your customer satisfaction. By proactively notifying customers of store closings, coupons, travel updates, shipping notifications, safety tips and much more, you are preventing possible customer service issues.

How will your 2014 communication plan compare to last years or to your competition? By integrating multiple channels and proactive notifications into your 2014 customer communication strategy, you will increase customer satisfaction, customer engagement and stay one or possibly two steps ahead.

Tags: Communication Strategy, Communications, Engagement Opportunities, Customer Service, Customer Satisfaction, Proactive Communication, Conversations

Drive Holiday Results with a Multichannel Engagement Strategy

Posted by Natalie Davis on Fri, Dec 06, 2013 @ 09:12 AM

 

It’s that time of year again! Everyone is bustling trying to finish buying holiday gifts, preparing for visitors and the new year. Making your customer’s shopping experiences and lives easier during this time is more important than ever. Customers already want information immediately and conveniently but during the hectic holiday season - providing this information when they need it and how they want it, can be a differentiator and a business driver.

describe the imageWe’re all seeing the dozens of TV commercials for electronic holiday gifts, ranging from cell phones, laptops, tablets and more. Customers are always on the go and due to the increase of mobile usage; customers expect relevant content on their preferred channels.

Many companies are thinking about how to earn business during this high volume, high stakes season if they want to stay ahead of their competition. Three in five retailers dedicated over 20 percent of their online marketing budgets to holiday efforts.

Companies can ensure their holiday season will be a success by incorporating multiple channels into a customer communication strategy and by being proactive and engaging with customers. By sending notifications on a preferred channel, like email and SMS text, customers are more likely to read your messages and have a positive experience.

Eighty two percent of retailers are making investments in mobile this holiday season and you don’t want your business to be left in a snowdrift. By sending notifications to your customers on their preferred communication channels in a compliant manner, you are providing a convenient way for customers to engage with your company and making it easier for them to do business with you.

By proactively informing customers of holiday deals, special events, shipping updates or travel notifications on multiple communication channels, you are improving customer experience and providing the highest level of service consumers expect. You will not only stay ahead of your competition but you will improve the lives of your customers – and that’s the best gift of all! 

Tags: Communication Strategy, Communications, Engagement Opportunities, Customer Service, Customer Satisfaction, Proactive Communication, Conversations

West Positioned as a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader

Posted by WNG Marketing on Mon, Dec 02, 2013 @ 09:12 AM

We are excited to share with you that West, our parent company and a leading provider of technology-driven communication services, recently announced that Gartner, Inc. has positioned the company in the Leaders Quadrant of its November 5, 2013, “Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), North America” for a second consecutive year.

We believe that our continued leadership in this industry comes down to three basic things:

  Experience
     Expertise
+      Service
The ability for the West team to enable our clients to outperform their competition.

What does this mean for our clients?

Working with a business that understands the needs of the enterprise and being provided a unique and valuable experience.  With more than a decade of delivering Unified Communications solutions, including voice, text, email and fax solutions, West has an unrivaled understanding of the needs of today’s complex enterprise.

We are not your typical telecommunications company – and that’s a very good thing.

Our focus is on you, helping you transform the way your business works and enhancing the performance of your company. West’s Unified Communications solutions include a full portfolio of applications to support the varied communications needs and styles of our clients. With years of experience and a consultative approach, West can drive invaluable customer engagements and lasting relationships by providing unique and memorable customer experiences.

Learn more about West being positioned as a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader here.

For a full copy of this Gartner Magic Quadrant report, please click here.

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About the Magic Quadrant

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in our research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Tags: Communications, Recognition, Unified Communications, Gartner, Magic Quadrant, Leader

Are your customers having the best possible SMS experience?

Posted by Natalie Davis on Mon, Oct 21, 2013 @ 09:10 AM

We all want to save time by using our mobile phones and texting allows us to do just that. Texting your family and friends is common but not very many of us have been able to use SMS as a way to get better customer service or to engage with the brands we love.

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Some companies use one-way or interactive texting to connect with their customers by sending automated messages but what happens when customers respond to a one-way text? What happens when a customer’s needs aren’t met by an automated conversation? When these problems arise, customers either aren’t responded to or they’re directed to contact someone for support, usually by calling in, using a Web chat or sending an email.

This isn’t just a problem for customers; this is a problem for companies as well. When customers are prompted to call a support number when they fall out of SMS automation, they’re using a communication channel that isn’t always preferred and this leads to unhappy customers. Companies also have to support their customers at a higher cost, due to agent resources and IVR phone minutes.

By allowing customers to use a preferred communication channel to meet their customer service needs, companies are making it convenient for customers to contact them and they’re creating an enjoyable customer experience.

West Notifications Group’s cutting-edge product, SMS Assistant, allows customers to have real conversations with customer service agents. SMS Assistant creates an engaging, convenient customer experience while cutting down on call center costs. This not only improves the efficiency of a call center but improves customers’ lives by allowing them to engage with the brands they love on their time.

SMS Assistant is an easy to use tool on a preferred channel that allows customers to have the best possible SMS experience with a company and customers are more likely to have their needs met because they’re having a personalized conversation, without using automated software.

SMS Assistant is a great tool, not only for customers but companies too. SMS Assistant allows agents to have multiple customer conversations at a time, which leads to lower costs and lower wait times. This product also seamlessly pulls messages into SMS Assistant when they fall out of SMS automation.

SMS Assistant provides customers with the service they desire on their channel of choice. It can also revolutionize the SMS experience businesses offer their customers.

To learn more about SMS Assistant, click here or give us a call at 877-369-1858. 

Tags: Engagement Opportunities, SMS, Convenient, Customer Satisfaction, Conversations

What kind of imprint are your customer communications making?

Posted by Natalie Davis on Thu, Jul 18, 2013 @ 13:07 PM

 Are you providing your customers with the communications they want on the devices they use the most? Do your customers find your communications useful C  Users nkdavis Desktop Capture resized 600and convenient?

Over the last few years we have seen a noticeable shift from channels like direct mail and voice to email and the stratospheric leap, to Short Messaging Service (also known as SMS or Text Messaging).  Because more consumers are looking for ways to use their mobile devices to save time, money and enrich their experiences, the world is constantly trying to keep up.

SMS is sometimes thought of as a channel for younger generations only, but recent numbers show that all generations are adopting SMS and incorporating SMS as a communication channel in their lives. Seventy two percent of people ages 50-64 use SMS. Younger generations are using SMS at an even higher rate of 97 percent, of people ages 18-29.

When it comes to adopting a SMS communication strategy, companies have options.

Today’s SMS menu

  • One-way text messaging: Sending text messages to a mobile phone but not receiving messages back
  • Interactive text messaging (ISMS): Sending text messages to customers and allowing them to respond
  • SMS Assistant: Letting customers interact with customer service representatives in real-time through SMS

Mobile phone use is growing and has reached approximately 70 percent worldwide. Email and voice channels are still used but aren’t always as effective. Even when using a mobile device, email communications can sit in an inbox for days and sometimes go straight into the spam folder. Voice communications aren’t always as effective as SMS because many customers don’t answer phone calls from numbers they don’t know, especially 800 numbers. SMS has proved to be effective because customers always have their mobile devices at their fingertips. Ninety seven percent of customers open SMS messages and 83 percent read them within three minutes.

SMS is often preferred because it’s easy for many customers to use and it’s convenient. SMS, when done in a compliant manner and when adhering to best practices, can benefit companies because it’s easy for customers to engage with them. If you have the option to provide an enriched experience and increase customer loyalty through SMS, why wouldn’t you?

Tags: Communication Strategy, Engagement Opportunities, Customer Service, SMS, Customer Satisfaction

Getting in Front of the Storm | Weather and Inbound Customer Communications

Posted by Natalie Davis on Wed, Jul 03, 2013 @ 08:07 AM

 

When severe weather hits, many consumers don’t have access to the resources and services they rely on. Whether a customer is out of power, has a delayed flight, can’t pick up a prescription or can’t receive a package, customer service across all industries remains vital when weather is a factor. So why wait until it hits, get out in front of the storm and the ensuing wave of communications from your customers demanding answers and action.

C  Users nkdavis Desktop Storm cloud (grays)

 

Being proactive means being a true customer advocate

Reaching out to your customers before they have to reach out to you is a great way to improve customer satisfaction by providing a higher level of service. But don’t stop there; continue to inform your customers throughout and even after a weather event to reduce their frustration with your company, ease their anxiety and help them to comfortably weather the storm.  

Here are several examples of helpful proactive communications:

  • Safety and Preparedness Tips

  • Store Closings & Modified Hours of Operation

  •  Service Delay Notifications

  • Timely Status Updates

  • Emergency Contact Information and Instructions

Immediate Benefits:

By reaching out to your customers before they have to contact you, not only will you make them happy, you may also see a reduction of inbound calls, the strain on your call center and the resources needed to operate it. While you can never head off every call, and really why would you want to?  You want to provide the service your customers want and expect from you. If you can reduce costly inbound calls by a small percentage – wouldn’t that be worth it?

This goes farther than the call center.  Your PR and marketing department is also on deck during events like these.  They are preparing a multitude of communications for your upset, stranded and/or self-described “under-served” customers around the clock.  Do them and your customers a favor and enable them to be proactive.

Long Term Benefits:

During weather events and the disruption of service that ensues, your clients are using social media to read and talk about you and your great service or the lack thereof.  Your actions and or reactions to what to your customers consider a critical event will undoubtedly be the difference between favorable reviews or tongue lashings, that as mentioned above will undoubtedly have your PR and marketing departments scrambling. 

By communicating with your customers before, during and after a weather event, you give them peace of mind and build the foundation for a trusting relationship that will stand the test of time, and even a tornado.

For more information, please review our communication kit - Proactive Communications Around Storms. This kit provides best practices and sample messages that may help your team quickly communicate important information to your customers before, during and after a weather event.

Tags: Communication Strategy, Storm Season, Customer Satisfaction, Proactive Communication, Weather

West Corporation Wins a Customer Value Enhancement Award

Posted by Natalie Davis on Wed, Jun 26, 2013 @ 08:06 AM

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We are pleased to announce West Corporation, parent company of West Notifications Group, has won the Frost & Sullivan Customer Value Enhancement Award- Customer Contact Outsourcing, North America, 2013. The Frost & Sullivan award is presented each year to a company that recognizes a business’s focus on increasing the value their customers receive, beyond customer service and leading to improved customer retention.

At WNG, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding consultative and collaborative services, innovative technology platforms and operational processes to meet the complex communication  needs of our clients. We work to focus and capitalize on mobility options to enhance the user experience and improve the lives of the end customer. We also understand the importance of being updated on all compliance regulations and work to guide our clients in communicating with their customers in a compliant way.

Some of West Corporation’s strongest attributes helped it stand out from the competition:

  • Understanding customer needs

  • Robust and innovative solutions

  • Knowledge in compliance

  • Focusing and capitalizing on customer mobility

  • A high-capacity, reliable, secure hosted platform

Our commitment to understanding our customers’ needs and providing innovative solutions, helped West Corporation and its subsidiaries, including WNG, stand out from the competition and receive the prestigious Customer Value Enhancement Award.

About Frost & Sullivan

Frost & Sullivan is a global research organization that monitors over 300 industries and 250,000 companies worldwide to determine how best-in-class companies oversee growth, innovation and leadership. Celebrating its 50th year in business, Frost & Sullivan derives its method from the CEO’s 360-Degree Perspective that is the basis for its TEAM Research methodology. This research methodology provides an evaluation platform for benchmarking industry players and for creating high-potential growth strategies for clients. For more information about Frost & Sullivan, please click here.

 

Tags: Recognition, Customer Service, Award, Frost & Sullivan

Did you know that sometimes customers text back?

Posted by Christina Kudym on Thu, May 16, 2013 @ 10:05 AM

 Are your customers’ voices really being heard? In this post we will reveal hidden and missed engagement opportunities that may be impacting your business.

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Why two-way SMS use is on the rise for retail

Engaging and having meaningful conversations with customers is a top priority for several industries. Consumers now expect brand interaction for a better experience. If you had a chance to have a conversation with your customers to improve their customer experience and increase engagement, wouldn’t you take it?

FYI your SMS notification could be a conversation starter…

Many businesses, including those in the healthcare industry, utilize SMS text to communicate, alert, notify or engage with their customers as part of a multi-channel communication strategy. This was also the case with the large retail pharmacy chain, with whom we recently spoke and did a study on. Many pharmacies use this affordable and effective channel for one-way messages for healthcare alerts, refill reminders and benefit updates; never intending for an engagement opportunity to result.

Because these SMS messages are only going one-way, many pharmacies aren’t listening to the responses that actually come from their customers. This gap in the pharmacy to customer communication loop can result in detrimental effects on wellness plans and a successful pharmacy.

Key reasons a breakdown in communication can be detrimental

Ignoring these customer engagements creates a poor experience and bad reviews for you

When customers respond to a one-way SMS text, they believe their message is being read and appropriately responded to. Through our research we were able to identify some examples of what happens when your customers believe they are in a two-way conversation with your company and the critical engagement opportunities lost.

Replies of real responses when customers didn’t realize they weren’t participating in a two-way conversation

  • Driving, I’ll get back to you when I can safely reply.
  • Seriously??...you guys are great!!...see u soon…how late r u open till?
  • Stop my order until further notice. Will advise later in the week.
  • You have the wrong #!

 Why you should care

What opportunities and critical information are you missing out on by not being able to see the entire communication loop when using SMS? When you don’t know what your customers want or what they are saying, how can you better serve them?

How to take advantage of missed engagement opportunities

By integrating two-way SMS and effective business rules into your communication strategy, you can increase customers overall satisfaction through meaningful conversations.

Engaging with your customers isn’t just beneficial for the healthcare industry, it relates to many verticals. Whether a customer replies about their oil change appointment or prescription order, listening to your customers will always be a foundation for a successful business.  If you let your customers know they’re being listened to, you’re connecting your customers with your brand, and building a longstanding relationship.

                                             

Tags: Engagement Opportunities, SMS

The Zero Moment of Truth and Your Communication Strategy

Posted by Christina Kudym on Tue, Apr 09, 2013 @ 10:04 AM

If connecting with your customers at the Zero Moment of Truth isn’t an objective, you should re-think your strategy.

Let’s start at the beginning…

The term “First Moment of Truth” was coined by Proctor and Gamble® in 2005*(1) to define the interaction between a shopper and the product on the shelf.  While this first moment is very important, the addition of communication channels and adoption of internet usage often lead to many brand and business interactions that happen prior to the customer ever seeing a product on the shelf or their utilization of a service.  Which is what Google likes to call the ZMOT or Zero Moment of Truth.*(2) - Watch the video on ZMOT.

The ZMOT is described as “A new decision-making moment that takes place a hundred million times a day on mobile phones, laptops and wired devices of all kinds. It’s a moment where marketing happens, where information happens, and where consumers make choices that affect the success and failure of nearly every brand in the world.”*(3)

Because of this, the ZMOT or Zero Moment of Truth is something all of us as business owners, marketers and (really who we all are at our core) communicators, not only need to be cognizant, but take hold of ZMOT and embed into our thoughts every day.  I believe that to think about ZMOT as we strategize, plan and then execute our complex and even simple communication, marketing and brand campaigns will help build stronger and more intimate relationships with our clients and their customers.

“Please, never communicate with me for the sake of communicating.  Communicate with purpose and with a mutually beneficial objective and goal in mind.” – Says me, Christina Kudym a consumer 

Do you feel like you communicate with your customers and even your staff at the ZMOT?  Let us know your thoughts, either with your business hat on, or your consumer hat.  We’d love to hear them.

Footnotes: *(1) Brilliant move by Proctor and Gamble…they’re so smart, could be why they have been around for a while. (2) Oh Google… you guys send me. (3) EXACTLY!

 

 

 

Tags: Communication Strategy, ZMOT, Zero Moment of Truth

Welcome to our Blog | Engage With Us

Posted by Christina Kudym on Tue, Mar 26, 2013 @ 12:03 PM

West Notifications Group   Engagement Blog Bubbles

Dear Readers,

We are extremely excited to be launching this blog and hope you'll tune in often to learn more about the amazing ways West Notifications Group has used technology and creativity to make millions of lives easier and the valuable lessons we've learned along the way. On this Blog you will find not only the latest news on a variety of important and relevant communication technology trends, but sound advice and insightful content from in-house and partner experts.

We think you’ll find a wealth of information here that you can put to immediate use and share — information that we hope you’ll find unique, intriguing, interesting and useful. So, we invite you to not only subscribe to our blog, but to ask us questions and engage us in conversation. We’re a social bunch so don’t be shy. We look forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely,
The West Notifications Group Bloggers

Tags: Overview, Welcome, What to expect, First Post