This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post my colleague, Pascal van Opzeeland, writes an informative article about the popularity of messaging apps and how they are impacting customer service. – Shep Hyken Have you been focusing on social media service lately? You might want to change your focus. As of 2015, messaging […]
This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post my colleague, Pascal van Opzeeland, writes an informative article about the popularity of messaging apps and how they are impacting customer service. – Shep Hyken
Have you been focusing on social media service lately? You might want to change your focus. As of 2015, messaging apps have overtaken social media platforms in monthly active users – and they are only picking up pace.
What’s more, the biggest of these messaging apps – WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger – are both opening up to B2C communication. Other giants like WeChat and Telegram are already quite open.
What will this mean for the way you do service – and how will it impact your customer communications?
A few features of messaging make it an especially promising channel for customer service.
High frequency of usage. Statistics on the messaging usage patterns haven’t been released, but active users open apps many times per day. Definitely more than email, which makes it more valuable as a channel for providing customer service. The main hurdle with waiting for an email response is having to open your inbox every time. Users are so hooked on messaging apps that this isn’t a problem anymore.
Conversation list. One reason why messaging apps are so convenient, and thus so frequently used, is the conversation list. It orders conversations from top to bottom based on their most recent activity, and it doesn’t matter whether this activity is inbound or outbound. Which makes for a much more intuitive experience. This is different from email, in which only incoming emails are prioritized.
Asynchronous by default, synchronous when appropriate. As explained by Ben Eidelson, the standard messaging mode is asynchronous communication. This means that a message is read at a later point in time than it was sent. When both sides are online at the same time, however, a synchronous conversation can be conducted as well. This is perfect for customer service. The asynchronous part means that service peaks can be spread out, while the synchronous means real-time support can still be delivered as well.
Long lived conversations. The nature of emails and chats is that they generally start off anew. Email conversations can go up and down, but changing topics within the same email thread goes against email etiquette. With messaging, conversations always build upon the existing thread. The context of the relationship is thus always clear.
From transaction to relation
While previous communication methods – emails, phone calls, chats – were mere snapshots, messaging threads represent the entire relationships between business and customer. Through integrations between messaging apps and tools like live chat, the first interaction with a customer on your website can be the start of a long-term conversation.
Reduced service pressure
As barriers for contacts get lower, we can expect more customer interactions. The fact that messaging can be asynchronous, however, means that the pressure of service peaks can be spread out. Imagine a hotline scenario in which you have a team of 8 service reps and a service peak of 10 concurrent calls. All your reps will be busy, and 2 of the customers will have to wait in the queue. With messaging, however, all customers can send their request, and the service team sends their response as fast as possible. In fact, with this service, a messaging team of 3 reps will probably do just fine.
This is my term for the effective collaboration between man and machine in delivering an outstanding service – which is getting easier through advancements in machine learning and neuro-linguistic programming. Imagine you’re delivering messaging support and a customer question comes in. Your robot sidekick runs it through the database of questions, delivered answers, responses, and service ratings. Based on this, it offers a set of possible responses, which you can then choose and edit to your liking. This should boost efficiency to a great extent, making service a lot faster and easier. The robot does most of the heavy lifting, while the human serves as the final check and moderator.
Transactions extend to messaging apps
Websites are currently the dominant mode of eCommerce. But if messaging adoption continues its current streak, that might very well change. It’s unlikely that websites will lose their importance any time soon, but what is likely is that they’ll play together with messaging apps. This also means that transactions, e.g. a consumer buying Nike shoes, will happen over messaging channels as well.
Messaging support is a great opportunity for better customer relationships, one that’s too big to pass by. A few companies are already reaping the benefits today.
Royal Dutch Airlines, for example, now allows you to manage your entire booking via Facebook Messenger. If you have any questions, you can get in touch with their support directly.
Similarly, Rogers, a major internet provider in Canada, helps customers directly via Facebook Messenger. Back in the Netherlands, Livecrowd, a company delivering 3.0 customer service and experience, deploys “messaging support” for high crowd events – think music festivals, concerts, sports matches, etc. This type of service is perfect to guide on-the-go customers toward their destination.
You, too, can get started with messaging support. Choose your channels, select your tools, and get ready for customer service 3.0.
Pascal van Opzeeland is CMO of Userlike, software for website and messaging support. He and his team share tips about customer communication on the Userlike Blog.
For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.
Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article: Six Ways To Avoid Social Media Customer Service Failure
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