Simon Robic is a social media expert leading social customer engagement at iAdvize. Co-founder of the Bringr social publishing and monitoring tool, which was incorporated by iAdvize in 2015, Simon talks about Messenger and how brands can strategically use this channel to increase conversion.
iAdvize recently partnered with Facebook and integrated Messenger in its conversational commerce platform. Nowadays, this channel has more than 1 billion users (Facebook, 2016).
How are the iAdvize customers actively using Messenger in their engagement strategy?
We have officially integrated Messenger in our platform in April, and we now have customers already using it. Two examples are Voyages SNCF and Numericable. Both companies are using Facebook Messenger to engage with their clients in two different ways.
Voyages SNCF uses Messenger mostly for after-sales. Customers can buy a train ticket on their site and choose to receive the order confirmation via Messenger. Additionally, they have access to other useful information such as seat number, departure/arrival time, train number, with one click. Travellers often use Messenger as proof of ticket. Moreover, if customers have questions about their journey or want more information, Voyages SNCF agents can assist directly in Messenger and offer additional services like booking a Taxi, thus generating up-sales.
Numericable uses this channel for customer support. They have been using the iAdvize solution for over four years, starting with the Chat feature. They wanted to provide customers with an alternative service for times when they cannot provide Chat services. This can happen out of hours when their agents are not available, or perhaps when the agents are engaged in the maximum number of Chat conversations. For the last scenario, the Messenger button is displayed instead of the Chat button so that customers can initiate a conversation.
Numericable noticed an increase in customer satisfaction after Messenger. Additionally, we could tailor customer targeting strategies we already created for Chat to Messenger, to ensure efficient customer engagement and increase conversion.
What is the immediate benefit for shoppers when they interact with a brand on Messenger?
There are two main advantages for shoppers:
1) This is a channel they are already using, and it’s convenient for them to engage: they don’t need to use another application or a particular brand application to communicate.
2) Secondly, with Messenger, the information is centralised in one single thread where the customer can communicate with the brand. They don’t need to search through different emails or text messages to find information about their order. Furthermore, they don’t need to engage with the customer service on additional channels.
What could be some customer/brand challenges of using Messenger?
At the moment, I cannot see challenges for customers, but maybe in the future, as brands start using this channel more, it will be more difficult for them to sift through the conversation. It might be a challenge for users to interact with friends/relatives on Messenger.
For brands, the primary challenge is ubiquity. Messenger is not the only platform shoppers use; there are other messaging and social media platforms; a lot of people are using text messaging, there are Instagram and Twitter. Messenger is only one channel, and brands need to engage on all channels, all the time and in real-time. iAdvize addresses this challenge for our customers through our conversational commerce platform.
Do you think Messenger will change how business interact with their customers?
There is something we already noticed with Voyages SNCF. The feedback they received from their agents is that their clients were happy to interact on this platform and for the first time thanked them for their help. The market will continue to evolve, and chatbots are already popular. In the future, it will be important for brands to automate a part of the conversation, perhaps the part not requiring human interaction: asking for information that qualifies the conversation (customer number, order number, etc.). This is still very new: using chatbots for eCommerce will help brands see more ROI and will change how they interact with customers in the future.
These platforms are at the heart of how businesses interact with customers. In 2016, almost every brand in the world considers normal to be present on Facebook and Twitter. But if you look at the data, there are more users on Messaging applications in the world than on social networks.
Brands now understand that they will need to be present on messaging applications just as they realised they need to be active on social media. On social media, they are publishing content and using ads to promote their content. This tactic is harder to implement on Messenger as it requires a real conversation, it does not offer an option to use ads.
At iAdvize, we have been using live Chat for over six years, and we know that after a conversation, the conversion rate is higher. Brands need to understand that they will need to have real conversations with customers and track new metrics like satisfaction rate, the number of conversations they had and turnover from these conversations.
Can you give me some examples of best practice for brands to build successful customer engagement strategies with Messenger?
Since Facebook announced it was possible to use chatbots on Messenger, at iAdvize we received calls from brands asking about best practice. They felt that Messenger was important, but they could not dedicate any human resources to managing it, so wanted to use chatbots to automate the conversation. This is not an example of best practice as brands are forgetting something: the importance of human interaction with customers. Brands need to offer an efficient and useful solution to their customers’ issues and make them feel valued.
With Voyages SNCF’s example, one immediately sees the brand provides useful information to their customers: they have their train ticket and seat number in Messenger – this is why they are using it. This also allows the brand to have an open channel with the customers and re-engage with them at a later date. If you want Messenger to work your brand, you need to think of ways to make it useful to your customers.
Conclusion: the future of Messenger
I encourage brands to start using Messenger as soon as possible. They need to create new customer behaviours while customers are still reactive on this channel.
If they engage later, it will be difficult for them to gain a place on the market amongst competitors who already started creating their engagement strategies. Also, currently, customers are not overloaded with information on Messenger. It’s still relatively simple to engage with them and offer a superior customer experience.
I need to reiterate that Messenger is important, but not the only platform brands need to use. They need to be everywhere, anytime, to interact with customers and meet the ubiquity challenge.
With iAdvize, it’s easy to face these challenges, as our intelligent targeting and customer engagement platform can help brands cope with ubiquity. Once your customer service team uses Chat within our platform, it’s easy for them to use Messenger or engage with their clients on social media on the same platform: they don’t need to leave the central dashboard to engage with customers or learn to operate a new tool.