Marcel Vergonet of OBI4wan takes us through the latest developments in messaging and shares some best practices.
The Development of Messaging Platforms
The popularity of messaging channels continues to grow. Earlier research from Ruigrok Netpanel indicates that the use of messaging continues to grow in all age groups. And this trend will continue to grow in 2020.
Since 2015, the use of the four main messaging apps (WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat and Viber) has exceeded the use of the four largest social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn).
According to research from Kantar, the use of messaging platforms has also increased during the coronavirus pandemic.
During all stages of the pandemic, WhatsApp achieved the greatest gains, with an overall increase in usage of 40%.
Overall, use of Facebook increased by 37%. The increased use on all messaging channels was highest in the age group up to 35 years.
Using Messaging Channels for Customer Contact: What Are the Advantages?
By now, 1 on 1 contact with organizations via messaging channels is a very common way of communicating between customer and organization.
Large tech companies, such as Facebook, Google and Apple, therefore invest heavily in messaging channels and their availability to organizations.
They do this, for example, through WhatsApp for Business, Facebook Messenger and Apple Business Chat. Live chat solutions on websites and in-app are also widely supported.
The main advantages customers of organizations experience are:
- A quick response time
- The degree of personal contact
- The fact that these messaging apps can be accessed anytime, anywhere
When using messaging apps, customers feel that they can respond when it suits them.
In addition, the customer satisfaction rate via messaging channels or live chat is high. So, there are more than enough reasons to focus on these customer contact platforms.
From Public Comments to Private Messages
The fact that messaging and live chat are private channels can play a role in consumers’ choices. When it comes to asking questions, it turns out that people prefer a private channel instead of public social networks.
With the still increasing use of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, the shift from public channels to private channels is well founded.
For organizations it is also quite easy to make conversations flow smoothly from public to private.
For example, without the consumer noticing this, you can use public feeds to direct customers to private channels.
Think of an ad on Facebook or Instagram, which sends you directly to a private conversation with your organization on Messenger or WhatsApp.
As I think about the future of the internet, I believe a privacy-focused communications platform will become even more important than today’s open platforms. I expect future versions of Messenger and WhatsApp to become the main ways people communicate on the Facebook network.
Using Messaging Professionally: List of 3 Best Practices
We see different applications of messaging platforms in practice. For example, messaging apps offer opportunities not only for service but also for marketing and sales.
Here we discuss a number of possible applications.
1. Proactive Service and Calls to Share Information
Messaging platforms are a suitable tool to ask your target group to share information with you.
For example, the Red Cross calls on its volunteers to share photos via WhatsApp, which then reach the editors and can be used in communication.
AT5, a local television channel in Amsterdam, also uses WhatsApp as a way to receive news tips from the general public. The WhatsApp number is listed on the contact page of the website.
2. Higher Conversion Rate at Dorel Thanks to Live Chat
Dorel represents various well-known sports, furniture and baby brands.
With the aim of improving customer satisfaction, saving costs and contributing to sales, Dorel started live chats on several websites in several countries.
In the pilot version, a customer satisfaction rate of 97% was achieved. But that wasn’t the only success: the conversion rate was 12.5% and the average order value increased by 64%.
Dorel also noticed that employees experienced a sense of freedom and fun on this channel, which is great for employee satisfaction. The added value of live chat as a channel for customer contact is clear to Dorel.
Thanks to this proven success, Dorel has chosen to develop its live chat further. Their aim is to be able to offer live chat flexibly and to use customer feedback to further optimize the website.
Also, this ultimately leads to fewer questions and a strong value proposition of customer contact within the organization.
3. Availability: Service Can Be Provided 24 Hours a Day
Sending a message via an app can be done at any time of the day, and service does not stop before 9.00 am or after 5.00 pm. Chances are that your service team will not be in the office 24 hours a day.
In that case, it is a good idea to consider using a chatbot, so customers will receive an answer to their questions outside of business hours.
For example, KLM knows how to reach its travellers 24/7 via Facebook Messenger. This way you’ll always have your boarding pass at hand.
The Future of Messaging Platforms
What’s next? As we saw earlier, in recent years the deployment and use of 1-on-1 channels in digital customer contact has increased.
Dutch research by Upstream into the state of webcare in 2020 shows that more than a quarter of the organizations surveyed believe that webcare will only take place on private channels in the next three years.
We see that platforms have prepared themselves to officially allow organizations to use them. An example of this is that Facebook achieved the roll-out of WhatsApp for Business in 2019.
In 2020, more than a quarter of Dutch organizations use some form of machine assistance.
Chatbots seem to be the most popular. Chatbots are often used on live chat and messaging platforms.
In comparison with 2018, the use of chatbots and intelligent assistants has grown.
This means that things are going to change for organizations:
- How are we going to deal with this?
- Which members of staff have the best capacities to provide customer service via messaging channels?
- What kind of team skills are needed and are they different from public social media channels?
- How can we provide service on these channels as efficiently as possible and automate tasks using chatbot technology?