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How an SMS API Can Improve Customer Support for Financial Services

This article was updated on July 13, 2021



In today's fast-paced world, people don't have the time to wait on hold for hours in a financial services provider's customer support phone queue. According to research cited by UC Today, about two-thirds of consumers wish there were a more convenient option.

Customer support calls have to be completed in real time — within five minutes for 46% of consumers — to catch the caller's active attention. An automated customer support option, however, like a customer support chat session powered by an SMS API or social chat API, can be done asynchronously. Consumers consider that a perfectly viable solution as long as their support ticket is completed within one hour.

Some financial services providers have already moved into the SMS and social chat channels augmented by chatbots, which provide more convenient customer support. TD Ameritrade, for example, uses a Facebook Messenger chatbot that can give customers instant updates on their portfolios and trades, according to The Ticker Tape. In addition to on-demand stock market information, TD Ameritrade's social chatbot increases customer engagement through timelier interaction because it's designed to answer questions faster than a human could. Not only do chatbots provide a better customer experience, but they also cut down on calls to the traditional customer support line.

SMS API-Powered Customer Support Reduces Errors and Costs

When it comes to human communications, people generally love to talk to one another. Regarding financial services, however, the time-honored principle to "get it in writing" bears repeating. It's happened to everyone — someone misunderstands the meaning of a phone conversation and errors follow.

A customer support chat powered by an SMS API, however, will enable the customer to put their queries in writing and the customer support agent to respond in writing as well. All correspondence can be reread for context, helping mitigate transaction processing errors. With an SMS API integrating customer messages into the enterprise's digital services, support ticketing functions, and back-end databases, the interaction should be fully documentable, archivable, retrievable, and auditable.

Of course, if chatbots don't answer queries satisfactorily or quickly enough, an algorithm will need human intervention, so keeping customer support agents in reserve to handle complex questions is a smart practice. Chatbots can also "listen" in on the support conversation in the background, adroitly evaluating the meaning of the customer's words and retrieving appropriate responses to display on the agent's screen, minimizing the guesswork in the exchange.

SMS communications allow for more effective service and more efficient support systems for financial service providers, minimizing misunderstandings, allowing for ease of communication, and reducing errors and costs.

It's Easier for SMS-Enabled Customer Support

For many enterprise contact centers, the customer support channels of phone calls and emails are firmly established, and it might seem that adding any additional channels would be difficult. To fully enable an omnichannel customer experience, however, financial services providers need to be able to compete across any app, any device, anywhere — and that means adding an SMS API. The good news is using an SMS application programming interface isn't as hard as it seems.

Primarily, an enterprise needs to obtain an SMS-capable virtual phone number or shortcode and publish it on its website. If a current customer support number is SMS compatible, the enterprise can use the same number for automated customer support messaging and be one step closer to an omnichannel customer experience. If the number has been integrated into a customer support system via an SMS API, then a customer's message will be automatically logged as a service ticket either by a chatbot or directly by the system. If the SMS-enabled number hasn't been integrated, a customer support agent would have to manually reenter the information into the support system, running the risk of data entry errors.

If the customer is in a hurry to have their support ticket serviced, and they call a nonintegrated virtual phone number, one of two things will happen — neither of which is good. First, the number could ring through to the contact center without it being associated with the service ticket, which would mean that the customer and agent would need to verbally recreate a second ticket, leading to ticket closure delay or duplication of effort. If the customer requested a new ATM card both by SMS and voice, for example, they could end up with two ATM cards, one of which would already be void.

In the second instance, the call would go to an out-of-order number, receiving a busy signal or immediately disconnecting. Obviously, this isn't an ideal customer experience.

But with SMS integration, the incoming phone number would already be in the system, and an agent would know the caller's identity and current issue even before answering. They could see if a new ATM card had already been ordered and give an ETA on delivery. SMS communications allow for more effective service and more efficient support systems for financial service providers, minimizing misunderstandings, allowing for ease of communication, and reducing errors and costs.

Vonage staff

Vonage staff


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