Comparing Conversational Customer Engagement with Traditional Customer Support

Support agent using conversational customer engagement by texting on her phone.

Conversational customer engagement is growing more popular every day. But it’s still a relatively new business text messaging strategy. Many professionals who use business texting services are asking: how does this strategy differ from traditional customer support? 

While traditional customer support and conversational customer engagement have a few similarities, they’re fundamentally different. Their differences contribute to conversational customer engagement’s superior ability to boost customer satisfaction.

So how do the two strategies compare? Let’s dive in. 

Conversational Customer Engagement vs. Support: Comparing Goals

The purpose behind a strategy can tell your team a lot about how it works—and what your team can expect if it succeeds.  

Traditional customer support aims to help customers solve their problems and get the most out of their purchases. In general, customer support is transactional, focusing on getting queries resolved as quickly as possible. 

Conversational customer engagement does include solving short-term questions, but it more broadly aims to establish strong relationships between your customers and your team through person-to-person conversations. Teams using this strategy prioritize responding authentically and thoroughly to incoming queries. They also focus on following up with customers and ensuring that they are experiencing long-term satisfaction. 

Comparison: Both strategies are customer-centric. However, traditional customer support is a short-term strategy, focused on ensuring customers are happy with recent purchases and answering one-off questions. Conversational customer engagement is a long-term strategy, focused on building strong relationships that last.

Comparing Tools

Some tools fit certain strategies better than others. That’s certainly the case with these two strategies.

Teams conduct traditional customer support over multiple channels. Often, they’ll ask customers to message, email, or call in with their questions. They may also offer a chatbot service. While messaging channels are faster than the other options, customer support teams will answer customer queries from any of them. 

Conversational customer engagement is an omnichannel messaging strategy. It’s conducted solely through messaging channels, including business SMS and other popular messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Messaging is the only channel that empowers customers and agents to chat quickly and conveniently, like in real person-to-person conversations. 

Comparison: Customer support teams can use any communication channel, though messaging channels are more efficient than others. Conversational customer engagement is always conducted through omnichannel messaging

Comparing Inbound Query Tactics

Both strategies receive inbound queries. But they differ in their methods for answering them.

Traditional customer support aims to answer customer questions accurately and efficiently. Support agents want customers to appreciate their experience, but, most importantly, appreciate their purchased product. Likewise, customers are more focused on getting their questions answered than on the experience of the conversation itself. 

Conversational customer engagement is about fostering authentic human interactions. Teams using this strategy publicize their entry points, encouraging customers to message them. When customers reach out, teams aim to ensure that customers know they’re talking to real people, not bots. They personalize their responses with custom fields like first names, refer to customer history to show they’re aware of customers’ continued patronage, and include items like emojis and GIFs to create real connections. (All of this while managing any and all customer problems.) 

Comparison: Traditional customer support focuses on answering questions. Conversational customer support focuses on making customers feel a real connection with the team member they’re chatting with. 

Comparing Outbound Content Types

There’s a big difference between outbound content for these two strategies. 

For the most part, traditional customer support doesn’t focus on outbound content. However, teams will attach customer support contact information to website pages, order notifications, and other customer communications. This way, customers will know how to connect with them if they have questions or problems.

While conversational customer engagement focuses primarily on inbound content, outbound content plays a smaller, but useful, role. Teams frequently send texts that ask customers whether they need help, how they feel about purchases, or what their opinions are on the customer experience. They try to send interactive content so that customers are more likely to respond. 

We encourage teams to text customers with follow-ups, feedback requests, and polls. These outbound texts can help you connect with your customers. However, conversational customer engagement focuses on inbound content. Prioritize answering incoming customer texts as opposed to sending your own content. 

Comparison: Traditional customer support is a reactive approach, focused on managing incoming queries. Conversational customer engagement combines responding to inbound questions with sending outbound content that invites customers to connect with your brand. 

Conclusion: Conversational Customer Engagement vs. Traditional Customer Support

There are a lot of differences between traditional customer support and conversational customer engagement. While traditional customer support helps short-term customer satisfaction, conversational customer engagement is all about building customer relationships that last. Ultimately, conversational customer engagement is the better strategy for long-term success. 


Want to learn more about conversational support? Check out our free guide.

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