In 2015 Mark Zuckerberg moved the Facebook Messenger app out of the original Facebook app, taking the bet that billions would use Messenger for much more than just chatting with friends and sharing GIFs.

He believed that they would come to use the app as a means of interacting with businesses to raise questions about products they’d purchased or intended to purchase, for instance.

With 1.2 billion people using the Messenger app today and a staggering 2 billion messages sent between people and businesses each month, this bet has well and truly paid off. 

And he wasn’t the only one. Tencent’s WeChat, launched in 2011, was an early adopter of the integrated model, partnering with businesses and restaurants to provide users an extended offering before even the likes of Facebook. Although its user base isn’t as broad as the social media site or Whatsapp, in its native China it is expected to have a staggering 84.5% market capitalisation on all mobile messaging apps this year. 

The move to Messenger

As such a large proportion of communication traffic between businesses and consumers now plays out across messaging channels, companies need to recognise and act on the fact that today’s consumers often prefer to use messaging apps to get in touch with them.

Research into our own consumer base here at Philips underscored this preference, revealing that our customers want their brand interactions with us to be low effort and humanised. These criteria are instantly met by messaging channels which are easy to use and enable a business to communicate in an empathetic, human manner with their customers.

It therefore made complete business sense for us to incorporate messaging channels into our customer care strategy as such channels map directly into the needs of our customers; facilitating ease of conversation with our customer care team, all at the tap of a touch screen.

Impact of messenger channels on Net Promoter Scores

For businesses looking to satisfy their customer base and interact with them in the way they want, while achieving high Net Promoter Scores (NPS) at the same time, messaging channels are the way forward.

Testament to this, we have seen that across markets, NPS scores are consistently high for consumers using instant messaging applications to communicate with us; in many cases higher than when using traditional channels like email. This stands to reason as messenger apps can be used from any device at any given moment, giving consumers the instantaneous, human interaction they are looking for.

Messenger apps are, after all, the way that we interact with our friends and family, so it’s an easy and natural transition to use these as a means to communicate with businesses too.

Frictionless customer-to-business interaction

Despite all the best intentions, barriers to successful customer interaction remain, such as Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Menus or difficulties finding relevant information on websites. To combat this, we found that messaging channels enable consistent, frictionless interactions.

One benefit of is that customers can easily share photos or videos with our customer care agents – just like sharing photos with their friends. This enables our teams to best respond to questions in real-time, with increased accuracy.

Additionally, by using messaging apps, conversations are digitally documented, meaning that consumers can leave a conversation and come back to it as they wish, without losing any of the information they previously shared with us.

Making the most of messenger: Things to keep in mind

Our experience to date has provided some valuable insights and lessons in addition to the obvious benefits. Firstly, we have seen that to truly derive value from instant messaging apps, you need to have a centrally aligned consumer care team. Put simply, it’s vital to work closely together with all marketing teams as many questions are the result of wider company activities such as product offers, or campaigns. If this doesn’t happen, you will be unable to respond as rapidly to inbound enquiries on new campaigns or products.

We have also seen the importance of being ready for the volume of messages and inbound requests that opening a messaging channel permits. At Philips, instant messages now exceed the volume of inbound messages from some other channels, and this shift has happened very rapidly. Therefore, other businesses considering messaging apps need to be ready and have the resources in place to manage this new conversation flow.

Recently, Nielsen found that 53% of people surveyed stated that they are more likely to do business with an enterprise they can message, highlighting the importance of messenger apps like Facebook and WhatsApp to remain competitive in today’s digital age.

For those businesses yet to launch a channel, the message from the Nielsen study comes across loud and clear. Get on board now and reap the rewards that interacting with your consumers via messenger affords or risk falling behind. 

Further reading:

Blake Cahill

Published 13 November, 2017 by Blake Cahill

Blake Cahill is Global Head of Digital at Philips and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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Comments (1)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

Customers of my wife's business use messenger quite a bit and we see a problem...

Customers' normal use case messenger is for chatting with family and friends, where there's a lot of shared context - basically they know everything about the people they chat with and vice-versa. This leads to a very informal style, loads of typos and abbreviations and no need to explain what they mean, because both sides have known each other for ages.

Customers then continue this informality when they use facebook messenger for business enquiries or order requests - same typos/brevity but without the same level of mutual history to enable understanding. They assume the person running the account knows what happened last month in the shop, see no need to give any detail, and then are puzzled if we don't understand. In a few cases they literally expect a reply within 30 minutes in the middle of the night.

This is nobody's fault - this is how messenger is used. We still think facebook messenger is valuable, but it's much trickier to use for business than e.g. email.

8 months ago

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