By Anita Matthews, 25th January 2017
Customers increasingly expect brands to communicate with them in the moment if they have a query or a problem. With the continued increase in the growth of social messaging apps many brands are starting to understand there is value in using them as part of their social customer care strategy.
According to the Facebook Messaging Survey 53% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with a business they can message with, and 63% say they message brands more today than they did two years ago. And it’s not just Millenials and Gen Xers. Whereas 65% of millennials and 65% of Gen Xers favour messaging, 63% of Baby Boomers would also choose to do the same.
It’s a global trend, although there appears to be some regional variations. US consumers are more likely to view messaging as convenient, economical and efficient, whereas in Asia messaging is viewed more as fun.
So which messaging app should you choose to engage with customers?
Here’s a round-up of the top apps you’ll want to consider….
Owned by Facebook, with over 1 billion active monthly users. It offers businesses services and features to enable them to interact individually with customers through the Facebook app. By communicating their Messenger Codes businesses can allow customers to initiate a private message with them. The Messenger Codes can also be used offline (brochures, signage, packaging etc). Facebook Messenger also allows you to share Private Messaging Links which lets people initiate a private message when they click it.
Brands such as KLM and Hyatt are already using the channel to serve customers. The Dutch airline lets passengers “get on board” with a Messenger plugin. After booking a flight, passengers receive their booking confirmation, get reminders for when check-in opens, and get their boarding pass as well as flight status updates.
Whatsapp was acquired by Facebook in 2014 and now has over 1 billion monthly users across the globe. In India it’s more popular than Facebook. However it is slightly behind the curve in terms of functionality for businesses, although businesses are starting to pick up on it’s potential as a low-cost way of engaging with global consumers.
The Hellmann’s mayonnaise Whatscook campaign shows how brands are seeking one-on-one conversations with consumers to drive both sales and retention.
The brand used Whatsapp in a campaign run across South America to connect people with professional chefs who helped them create meals using the ingredients in their fridge, and of course some Hellmann’s
Fashion retailers such as Diesel, Burberry, Clarks, Agent Provocateur are also testing out the tool, and given the global reach it offers, more and more brands are starting to use it as a low-cost way to reach out to international consumers. In India Reliance Brand engages fashion conscious consumers who don’t have access to physical stores and enables them to scroll through the latest stock and select items for delivery. According to Reliance conversion can be up to 80 per cent.
With over 800 million active monthly users, WeChat is the most popular messaging platform in China (where Facebook is currently banned). It has a host of features aimed at helping businesses engage and sell through the app, as well as service accounts to enable agents to have one-to-one conversations.
Luxury fashion brand Dior has used the channel to run teaser campaigns in China for limited sales of a new handbag line. Through WeChat Dior offered customisable options, enabling users to drag and drop options onto their handbag before purchasing it through the WeChat payment system.
Calvin Klein used WeChat to drive a 50% increase in sales volume for Chinese Valentine’s Day last year, using interactive outdoor screens to encourage users to scan a QR code and share a picture of themselves with friends on WeChat. Users were incentivised with a potential free gift to redeem in a nearby CK store, increasing store footfall.
It’s no surprise that socially proactive Airline KLM uses WeChat for customer service in China for both marketing and customer service. Users follow the brand on WeChat by scanning the QR code with their mobile phone. Once connected to the brand, the users sees news, customised promotions and discounts. They can also use the platform as a customer service channel to contact the brand for assistance 24/7.
Line Is the most popular app in Japan, Thailand and Taiwan with around 220 million users. It offers a series of business features, designed to help businesses engage and connect with consumers.
The Business Connect suite allows connected companies to promote coupons and reward cards, and the Line@ app means larger organisations can more easily communicate with customers and consumers. It plugs into the existing chat service and enables businesses to message regular Line users and post content to the social network-like ‘Timeline,’ It also enables them to communicate with people who are not friends but are clients, customers or fans.
Kik lets users connect with friends, groups and an ever increasing number of chatbots. It has approximately 300 million monthly active users who are mostly the younger demographic; 50% are teens, representing four out of ten teenagers in the U.S.
Kik’s ‘bot shop’ provides an interaction point for brands to try out AI and customer engagement via chat bots. Brands are experimenting with the chat bots to help drive improved customer connections and greater completion rates. Cosmetic brand Sephora used it’s bot on Kik to engage users in completing a survey. Results showed completion rates of over 40%, considerably higher than on other platforms.
Why social messaging apps matter
As consumers spend increasing amounts of time on their mobile devices, brands must ensure they are present where their customers are or risk getting left behind. For many markets messaging is now the dominant communication channel. Digital consumers increasingly expect to connect and instantly engage with brands whether they are buying or seeking customer service.
The regional popularity of social messaging apps means global brands will need to be able to integrate and manage customer engagement across multiple apps, as well as link up with more traditional channels for in-depth assistance which covers all contact points.
Make sure whichever chat apps you choose to work with are integrated into the customer care platform agents already use for social channels to offer customers the best engagement experience from a single point of access.
For more info try our social messaging guide: How messaging apps are pushing the customer service frontier
See how Sentiment can help you integrate messaging with social media to give customers in-the-moment engagement.