Christina McAllister, Senior Analyst
Even if you aren’t familiar with the term “asynchronous chat,” you’re definitely familiar with the technology. Common apps like iMessage, WhatsApp, Slack, and Microsoft Teams are all examples of asynchronous chat in action. But it’s only beginning to infiltrate the B2C world. On this episode of What It Means, Senior Analyst Christina McAllister previews her CX North America session on how asynchronous chat will shake up customer service.
McAllister defines asynchronous messaging as “a text-based messaging experience where both participants can start and stop and come back to the message without losing their place in the conversation history.” While anyone with a smartphone has used this to communicate with friends and family, it’s a revolutionary idea in customer service where (for now) live chat reigns supreme.
Two forces are pushing asynchronous forward. The first is consumer sentiment. It’s a modality that customers are accustomed to, and it’s convenient. For example, imagine a customer wants to exchange a damaged item. They could call in and endure a 15-minute wait to talk to an agent; they could use live chat, only to have the session terminate after a small period of inactivity, requiring the customer to start from scratch; or they could respond to a WhatsApp message at their convenience. The value is clear.
Vendors are the second force pushing asynchronous chat. Contact center as a service (CCAS) providers don’t want to maintain the infrastructure for both live and asynchronous chat. Asynchronous is winning out, and providers are relegating live chat products to legacy status, McAllister explains.
Yet, despite these forces, brands have been slow to adopt asynchronous chat. McAllister explains that there are technological and operational challenges. Metrics, for example, are completely different. A two-day resolution time wouldn’t be cause for alarm in asynchronous chat, whereas it’d be unthinkable in live chat. Since it can take so long to resolve an asynchronous session, multiple agents are likely to be involved, requiring them to be able to easily jump into an existing conversation. It also requires all chats to be tied to a customer ID in some way, which isn’t necessary in live chat. McAllister provides dos and don’ts for implementing asynchronous chat, including how to pick which third-party channels to invest in.