Your Customers Are Using Facebook Messenger
Every B2C company is faced with the same challenge: how do you engage with your customers when they are a moving target? Gone are the days of mass advertising and broadcast marketing techniques. Customers are smarter and more mobile than they were even five years ago. They don’t want generalized messaging and long hold times. If a company wants to remain competitive, they must adapt their strategies to this always-on, always-mobile, ever-changing consumer base.
Where exactly are your customers? The stats show they are on social media and messaging apps like Facebook Messenger. With nearly 1 billion people on the platform and more people using messaging apps than social media networks, companies now must determine how to best integrate messenger programs into their marketing mix.
Facebook Messenger presents a transformative moment for brands to connect to and communicate with customers like never before. People not only want to engage with their social networks, but crave 1-on-1 interactions, hence the increase in use of messaging apps.
We are in an age of conversational marketing and commerce. Messaging apps make conversation-centric interactions possible. Most customers aren’t the type to blast a company on social media or expect a quick response posting a personal question on a social media site. Instead, they prefer to handle customer service issues in a private way that won’t bring attention to themselves. Messaging enables these types of interactions, plus infinitely more possibilities.
Social Customer Service Is the New Black
Customer service is having to evolve with the consumer preferences. While some consumers choose to engage with companies via social media, increasingly they are opting for direct interaction in the form of a live conversation. The companies who offer both capabilities have the competitive advantage. Why? Because today’s marketing means you MUST be where your customers are, when they are there – not before or after.
The problem with most social media customer service is most companies are non-responsive, or when they do respond many hours later, they typically refer you to their preferred customer service channel. Best practices are to keep the conversation within the same channel when communicating with customers. The experiences are vastly different when you help someone in the communications channel they prefer versus responding in that channel and then asking them to switch for the company’s convenience. Messaging apps provide an opportunity for companies to better serve customers because the ability to identify, respond, and resolve customer issues is improved both by the inherent two-way communication nature of messaging, the application of chatbots, and the human agents that will help the bots interact with customers.
To Chatbot or Not to Chatbot
Chatbots are a great method to serve the most customers the fastest, but not all situations are ideal for a bot. Bots can answer many questions, provide standardized messaging and direct consumers to where they need to go next, but they aren’t intelligent enough to decipher tone, context, intentions, or most importantly, customer frustration. At least, not yet. Only humans have this ability and that is precisely why customer service should not rely on bots completely.
For brands trying to deliver a positive experience, they must make human agents available when the bot reaches its limitations. Customers still want to have an emotional, human experience most of the time. They want a humanized brand and talk with real representatives who can commiserate with them. An Accenture study found 80 percent of consumers would rather solve a problem with a person than with any digital channel. By blending artificial intelligence with human intelligence, you and your customer get the best of both worlds.
How do companies manage all of the incoming instant messages generated in Facebook Messenger? They need technology to make it possible to manage them at scale so agents can talk to multiple people at the same time. Like a triage, agents need to be able to easily identify which conversations they need to jump in on immediately and which can be served well by a chat bot.
Chatbots, on the other hand, need to be smart enough to know when it’s time to pass the customer off to a live agent. Either way, the agent should see the entire stream of conversation, bot or human, and have it integrate with the CRM to continually update the customer profile. This speeds the resolution process and ensures the customer receives the best possible experience with every engagement.
Instead of waiting for customers to contact you, you can be proactive and contact them with personalized messaging they’ll love. Accenture found 73 percent of consumers surveyed said they prefer to do business with retailers who use personal information to make their shopping experience more relevant. Why not send them that messaging when they are active in the buying journey?
Companies can push instant messaging as call-to-actions in ads, websites, emails, apps, social media or even use geolocation. As customers enter a store, companies can send an instant message welcoming them, offering them a coupon or simply letting them know an agent is standing by should they have any questions or need help.
Facebook Messenger allows for real-time, 1-on-1 interactions no other technology affords. It’s like having your own personal salesperson, customer service agent and concierge in your pocket (or purse). You can have instant dialogue with the company to ask questions, find a product, suggest alternatives, provide coupons and offers, check inventory, book a spa treatment, make a comment or even file a complaint.
What other ways can companies leverage Facebook Messenger to engage with their customers? This capability may be the next new frontier. The options are virtually limitless. The customer becomes a captive audience who actually invites you to engage with them. Few other forms of marketing can say the same. You literally have millions of customers and prospects at your fingertips. How will you use each opportunity to build those relationships, build the trust, build the brand loyalty?
One low-hanging fruit is a holiday. Holidays inevitably mean spending. Consumers spend more than $600 billion per year for the winter holidays alone. How can you bolt on Facebook Messenger to holiday campaigns you’re already planning? Instead of the CTA in an ad directing customers to a coupon, video or website, it could link to Facebook Messenger where they can have a 1-on-1 conversation with a product expert. Now, you’ve invited that person to have a real conversation about a product.
Customer service isn’t always about providing help to a problem. It’s customer service, in whatever form that may take. How can customer service add conversations to their tactics?
Contests, games, advice, videos, partner ads are just a few ideas. When a customer is waiting in a checkout line, why not instant message them with something fun to pass their time? Keep them engaged with your brand as long as possible. Offer games where the prize is a 10% off coupon. Present funny short videos to get them in a good mood and to walk out feeling like they had a positive experience.
These engagements are ones you’re not able to have now, but you can bet that’s where this is all headed. Whether you’re a leader or a follower, this new frontier will be more than a trend but a competitive edge.