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In last weeks blog we discovered that, compared to two years ago, people are more likely to get in touch with customer care teams through private Social Messaging channels, such as Facebook Messenger and Twitter DM, than public ones. We continued our investigation, to see if such a pattern exists across a number of industry sectors.

Usage of private messaging has gone up in all industries, while that of public social media channels showed a mixed picture

In order to see whether this trend of private channel use persisted across different fields, we segmented our 60 clients into 8 industry sectors: Airline, Automobile, Financial, Hospitality, Railway, Retail, Telecom, and Tech & Utility. Figure 1 illustrates the respective volumes of messages resolved in private and public channels along the same 2 year timeline. Apart from Telecom and Tech, all other sectors have witnessed private message volumes catching up to, or overtaking public volumes during this time period. The finance industry in particular has seen this shift as early as 2016, due in part because banking related inquiries typically contain personal and sensitive information and require a higher level of security, for which private channels are more suitable. The Travel, Retail, and Utility sectors have likewise seen this shift to private channels all throughout 2017.

Airlines 

Automobile 
Financial Institutions   Hospitality 
Railway Retial
Telecom and Tech Utility 

Figure 1. Trends in no. of issues resolved in private vs. public channels for 8 industry sectors

Table 1 below shows us, with at least 95% confidence according to Mann-Kendall tests, whether the trends noted in each respective sector are significant. ‘No trend’ means the trend detected is not statistically significant. Overall, all the industries we studied have indeed seen a significant increase in conversations resolved via a private channel. In contrast, the Finance, Hospitality, Retail, and Utility sectors have seen a decrease, or in some cases a plateau, in conversations that ended in a public channel.

Industry

Resolved in private

Resolved in public

Airline

Upward Trend

Upward Trend

Automobile

Upward Trend

Upward Trend

Financial Institutions

Upward Trend

No trend

Hospitality

Upward Trend

Downward Trend

Railway

Upward Trend

Upward Trend

Retail

Upward Trend

No trend

Telecom and Tech

Upward Trend

Upward Trend

Utility

Upward Trend

No trend

Table 1. Direction of trends for each industry

We also carried out the same trend tests for all of our 60 enterprise clients. The data is not shown here but in summary, two third of the clients have seen either no trend, or a decline in the volume of conversations started and resolved in public channels. In contrast, 56 out of 60 (93%) have witnessed an increase in private-private conversations.

What we have learned

So what does all this data tell us? Customer care teams today are 10 times more likely to resolve customer inquiries via a private channel, like Facebook Messenger and Twitter DM, than they were two years prior. What’s more, the rate of growth of conversations using private channels has accelerated to 20 times that of conversations using public channels (i.e., 900% vs 45%). All of our findings did in fact prove our prediction true that customer services through messaging benefits both consumers and businesses alike. For consumers, messaging is more intuitive, more convenient, and more personal. For businesses, messages can be dealt with in an asynchronous fashion, which makes resource allocation more flexible and in turn it improves efficiency and drives down cost. By taking advantage of automation systems that utilise rules and machine learning (i.e. bots, content routing, tagging, and prioritisation) and integrating them effectively into a number of stages throughout message processing, businesses are such to reap the rewards that this new era of social messaging will provide.

Learn more about how Conversocial can help integrate Messenger Customer Chat and other Social Messaging into your customer care program.
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We recently published an article in which Volaris Airlines has demonstrated that Social Messaging was not only 83% more cost effective, but also drove up customer satisfaction at the same time. Following on Volaris’ positive experience with their launch of Messenger Customer Chat, we became curious if customers as a whole are more likely to contact customer care teams through private social channels like Facebook Messenger and Twitter DM, rather than public ones.

Customer care through private social messaging

We believe that customer care through private messaging channels is beneficial to both businesses and customers. For businesses, the asynchronous nature of messaging gives customer care teams more flexibility in allocating resources and setting priorities, especially with the right kind of tools (hint Conversocial). In addition, messages through private channels contain much less ‘noise’ when compared to their public counterparts, such as Twitter handles for instance, which tend to be bombarded with all sorts of content - most of which is irrelevant to the interests of customer care teams. And though yes, many software solutions do exist that provide tools to combat such spam (i.e. machine learning or other sophisticated algorithms), it takes significant effort to maintain a level of satisfactory accuracy, as the vocabulary of languages used on social media is constantly evolving. Moreover, private messaging opens up the opportunity for bots and agents to work together seamlessly, with bots taking care of the tedious parts of data collection and organisation, and agents being free to focus on engaging with the customers and providing issue resolution.

From a customer’s perspective, private messaging is simpler, more intuitive, and more flexible than public. Not to mention, messaging apps today are practically ubiquitous and incredibly easy to access. As a result, today’s consumers always prefer the easiest and quickest means of issue resolution. This is also why we predict that in the digital customer service care arena, people will continue to move away from using public channels like Twitter and Facebook public pages, and gravitate further to private channels such as Twitter DM and Facebook Messenger. A dynamic shift such as this will require brands to support and promote customer care through private messaging channels, thereby contributing to our predicted public to private channel shift.

Once customers contacted you in private, they almost never go back to public!

We began to wonder if our prediction can be verified (or rejected) by collecting and analyzing some Conversocial data. To begin, we pulled 2 year’s worth (March 2016 - April 2018) of conversation history from 60 of our enterprise clients. To ensure that we pulled a clean set of data which excluded spam or irrelevant content that agents did not need to respond to, we teased everything out as follows; the conversations we examined were a thread of message exchanges between a customer and one or more agents, and consisted of at least one response from an agent. This left us with on average 97,000 conversations from each client’s conversation history.

Then, the conversations were split up into 4 groups based on which channel - private or public - they began and ended in. The raw volumes of each combination of channels are shown in Table 1, and the percentages of each combination in Figure 1, below. Overall, just over half of all conversations (50.5%) started and ended in a public channel (i.e., ‘public-public’), followed by 41.2% in the private-private category.

  Ended in a private channel Ended in a public channel
Initiated in a private channel 2,394,870 7,810
Initiated in a public channel 472,580 2,935,523

Table 1. No. of conversations initiated and completed in private or public channels

Figure 1. Percentage of conversations initiated and completed in private or public channels

The private-public category stood at just at 0.1%, indicating that customers reached out via a private channel initially, but eventually shifted the matter to a public channel. The reason for going public in the end is often polarised; either the customer would like to give public recognition to the business for excellent service provided, or on the flip side, attract negative attention as a means of pressuring the customer care team to provide a better and faster resolution. The percentage of such conversations is quite small: conversations initiated in a private channel only have a 0.24% (i.e., 0.1% / 41.3%) chance to conclude in public. In other words, once customers contacted you in private, they almost never go back to public. Having said that, it’s still a good idea to keep an eye on such conversations, as they can potentially escalate to a larger PR problem for the business. In terms of overall volume and percentage over the last 2 years, public-public conversations tops the list.

Private messaging overtook public social media last September!

Next, we wanted to examine whether the conversations in each category exhibited any notable trends over time. Figure 2 below displays the trend lines in customer care conversations that started and ended in private vs. public channels. These conversations follow the patterns of private-private, public-public, and public-private, using linear regression. Private-public conversations were omitted from this study, as their volumes were too small.

Figure 2. Trends in customer care conversations started/ended in private vs. public channels

In each plot in Figure 2, the X-axis denotes the nth day from the starting point (March 1, 2016), and therefore represents a linear timeline over the course of our 2 year period. Points on the Y-axis are log-transformed counts of conversations that started and ended in the corresponding channels. The counts have been normalised so that it’s easier for the regression model to fit the data.

For all the 3 patterns an upward trend can be observed over the 2 year time period, but the slope of the private-private conversation trend line is steeper than the other two, indicating a higher rate of acceleration. In reality, prior to our log-transformation, the acceleration rate for the private-private category was even higher than it appears in the plot: at the beginning of the two year period there were on average 6,000 private-private conversations per week. By the end of the timeline, the weekly number stood at approximately 60,000 conversations, yielding a 10-fold increase in the private-private cluster. For comparison, the number of weekly public-public conversations started at about 22,000 in March 2016 and ended at about 32,000 - a meager 45% increase.

To obtain the results displayed in Figure 3 below, we merged the four categories into two (resolved in private & resolved in public) and observed only where each conversation concluded. Once more, the chart makes it clear that the volumes of both categories have been rising, with private conversations rising more sharply. The chart also illustrates that in September of 2017, private conversation volumes overtook public ones, and the lines appeared to diverge further after that point (with the exception of early 2018 when both channels experienced a volume spike caused by severe weather conditions in UK and on the east coast of US, but the gap quickly widened again afterwards.).

Figure 3. Trends in no. of issues resolved in private vs. public channels

To be continued...

Next week's post will include industry analysis of changes to conversations patterns and our key findings. 

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While plenty of evidence suggests that digital care reduces costs and increases shareholder value, most companies are still very much in the infancy of their Social Messaging journey. In a 2016 study, McKinsey found that while more than two-fifths of service interactions with companies begin on an e-care platform, but only 15 percent are digital from start to finish.

Let’s examine the four reasons change is hard and how brands can achieve it faster:

1. Poor CX Infrastructure

The same McKinsey study also found that when some brands launch digital care, their inbound call volumes increase–precisely the opposite of what they had hoped for. This is known as the boomerang effect and it has everything to do with how much these brands invested, or rather, underinvested in digital care.

According to McKinsey, “The experience in most e-care channels does not match high customer expectations. And when customers find their expectations are not resolved through digital channels, they pick up the phone.” Poorly executed digital care, then, might be worse than none at all.

To meet customers’ expectations for digital support experiences, brands must offer:

  • Simplicity - Minimal design and few clicks to reach an answer
  • Convenience - Single point of contact and ease of interaction
  • Interactivity - Links to alternative digital channels and services
  • Continuity - The ability to resume conversations and for agents to know customers’ cross-channel histories

Digital Customer Care, and the Social Messaging channels that make up Digital CX delivery, is all about a seamless experience for both the customer, and the agent handling the customers inquiry. 

Need to improve your experience? Download The Social Messaging Advantage whitepaper. 
2. Fear of losing revenue

Some enterprises don’t commit to Social Messaging because they’re afraid of jeopardizing revenue and the status quo. They know that traditional support channels are expensive, it's safe known entity. But this is a counter productive view. Social Messaging can break to what we refer to at Conversocial as the CX Equation.

The CX Equation: Customers fundamentally want a better customer experience, generally driven by inquires being resolved in-channel in a timely and convenient manner. Brands, and contact centers particularly, are driven by lowering the cost-to-serve, among other KPIs. The two ‘wants’ are counterproductive and there is a trade-off in meeting one over the other. But Social Messaging has the power to break the equation.

Today, consumers demand support on messaging platforms which are still one-to-one interactions with agents. Agents can upsell just as easily via Social Messaging channels as anywhere, but for a fraction of the per-resolution cost. And because McKinsey finds that digital channels receive three times as much traffic as traditional channels, that’s a lot more opportunities to upsell.

Plus, with chatbots, brands can recognize and route potential inbound upsells based on the issue. Customers looking to cancel, for example, can be connected directly to an agent whereas customers with a more simple inquiry can be handled by a chatbot.

3. Unclear migration strategies

The same report from McKinsey found that fewer than 20 percent of organizations that deployed digital care had a clear migration strategy. This means that for those brands, stakeholders didn’t agree internally upon a roadmap within other business units of their brand, leaving their digital CX journey uncharted and separated from their traditional care structure.

A lack of strategy leaves customers and employees confused. If traditional channel teams and digital channel teams don’t talk, or don’t have a direct link to higher level management, customers get transferred in circles and are left upset and angry. This is also true for the marketing team, who will feel they have deserved their seat at the table and have ownership of online brand tone.

Digital care works best when brands have a migration strategy. That means defining where Social Messaging fits into the support hierarchy, training agents on the goals and parameters of new and traditional channels, having a migration budget, and having clear executive buy-in.

4. Haphazard implementation

Sometimes, poor digital care implementation comes down to a lack of organization. Many corporate digital care initiatives don’t have dedicated digital teams with a direct line to top management. Only 40 percent have clear digital targets and fewer than 15 percent have the ability to clearly track customer journeys.

Without detailed metrics and a sense of the cross-channel journey, digital support is likely to flounder. Both agents and customers need clarity on where digital support begins and ends, what it provides, and what it doesn’t. And once it’s implemented, brands need to promote it and encourage customers to take advantage of the new digital channels.

The key to better implementation is to do the hard thing and sit down and plan. The rewards often more than repay the investment. A study by Forrester found that companies that successfully implemented Conversocial increased their revenue by $945,000 over a three-year period.

The payoff of care-full planning

The lesson for big brands is clear: Social Messaging isn’t just the future. It’s profitable at present, but especially so if it’s implemented thoughtfully. Brands must offer outstanding digital experiences, write down their migration strategies, arm agents with the tools they need, and commit to the migration – no half-measures.

Whether in support or transport, technology is advancing. It’s up to brands to decide whether they’ll take the lead or drift along in their competitors’ shadow.

Learn more about how Conversocial can help integrate Messenger Customer Chat and other Social Messaging into your customer care program.
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We are excited to announce that, based on customer ratings and review, we have been identified as a leader and high performer in several categories under the Social Customer Service sector on G2 Crowd, the world's leading business solution review platform.

Based on authentic customer reviews, we have been honored for our industry-leading customer satisfaction ratings in the most recent G2 Crowd Social Customer Service Spring 2018 Grid and Index reports, namely:

  • G2 Grid® Report for Social Customer Service
  • Usability Index for Social Customer Service, with top ratings for ‘Ease of Use’
  • Implementation Index for Social Customer Service, with top ratings for ‘Fastest Implementation’ and ‘Ease of Setup’
  • Relationship Index for Social Customer Service, with top ratings for ‘customer satisfaction’

We have already become the Social Messaging platform for numerous of today’s global brands including Hyatt, Tesco and Google to ensure they are supporting in-the-moment resolution, at scale, driving profitable and lasting relationships through all public and private social messaging channels.

Aside from the honest, positive ratings we’ve received from numerous enterprise customers, their own words speak volumes about how critical our platform is within their customer engagement hubs and contact centers. In recent reviews from our customers, it’s clear that being able to deliver customer service via Social Messaging has been a huge boost to business operations. Here's just a sampling of the reviews that make us smile:

The best tool out there for Social Customer Service
 
"Conversocial is so simple and easy to use, both myself and my teams love using it. You can tell it has been built with Customer Services in mind. The analytics feature gives the detail you need but is so easy to use. Play Mode is a great feature to ensure that our customers are getting a great quick service from our agents and gives continuity for our customers on who they are speaking to on..." 
 
Katie S. -  Social Media Manager, Thomas Cook Airlines
 
We are excited to be named a leader by G2 Crowd in multiple social customer service categories to help companies tangibly improve resolution time, customer satisfaction, capturing customer insights, adopting new innovative channels and impacting their bottom line.

In today’s competitive marketplace, our goal is to continue to help turn Social Messaging into a competitive differentiator for brands—by making it easy and straightforward for customers to get help through social, mobile channels. Today’s consumers no longer require just responsiveness; they demand that conversations between customers and businesses be as effortless and familiar as dialogs between friends and family. These accolades are a direct reflection of our attention to these consumer needs.

G2 Crowd leverages more than 381,000 user reviews to drive better purchasing decisions. Business professionals, buyers, investors, and analysts use the site to compare and select the best software and services based on peer reviews and synthesized social data. Every month, more than one million people visit G2 Crowd’s site to gain unique insights.

According to Michael Fauscette, Chief Research Officer of G2 Crowd, “rankings on G2 Crowd reports are based on data provided to us by real users. We are excited to share the achievements of the products ranked on our site because they represent the voice of the user and offer terrific insights to potential buyers around the world.”

Learn more about what real users have to say or leave your own review of Conversocial on G2 Crowd’s Conversocial reviews page!

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Whenever it seems that customer expectations can’t rise any higher, they do. Our 'State of Digital Care' report found that 81 percent of consumers have higher digital customer service expectations in 2018 than they did the previous year.

To continue to earn their customers’ loyalty, hospitality brands are embracing technology. And in particular, they are finding that Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), and the Internet of Things (IoT) offer a mutually reinforcing equation of excellent service:

1. AI helps brands personalize the customer experience

Hospitality brands are increasingly on the hook for personalizing customers’ experiences the way Amazon recommends purchases and Spotify recommends songs.

While the idea isn’t new–rewards programs for capturing customer information have been around for decades–what’s different is that consumers expect continuity between their online and offline experiences. Guests want an offer they receive on an app to be valid at checkout, to fix an in-person service issue by chatting with the brand on Facebook Messenger, and for hotels, taxis, and airlines to remember their preferences. Because private Social Messaging conversations are asynchronous and persistent, they tie guests’ pre- and post-booking conversations together so service agents always know their history. 

It can take a lot of work to unify all that disconnected data, which is why hospitality brands are investing in data warehousing and algorithms to help them know guests better than they know themselves.

Best Western, for instance, has deployed Amazon’s Alexa smart devices as in-room concierges. The brand aggregates this interaction data with online and offline behavioural data to make sure that consumers’ preferences travel with them. Similarly, Premier Inn makes use of Navigator on Twitter for Conversational Automation. This enables a dedicated, 1-1 delivery of frictionless and discrete customer care whilst automating functionality. Navigator effectively works as an in-line menu system for Twitter private messaging threads. By preemptively prompting the customer to provide relevant information means that only if necessary, is an issue seamlessly escalated to a human agent. A combination of automation and simple human interaction makes for a richer, authentic and more tailored digital customer experience. 

Learn how top brands are providing service through Messenger
2. Virtual reality allows travelers to try before they buy

For families and individuals, planning a getaway can run thousands of dollars and often requires careful consideration. One might think that VR travel experiences that can bring a tropical rainforest or the streets of Paris to life in a viewer’s living room might compete for these dollars. But travel brands are embracing VR as a marketing tool.

The ski resort Destination BC in Whistler, Canada, allows potential visitors to “test drive” its slopes with 360-degree virtual reality videos taken from cameras affixed to skiers’ helmets. Hundreds of hotels, including Atlantis in Dubai, now offer virtual tours, and the hospitality startup Amadeus is developing a VR booking technology where prospective travelers can preview the view from their hotel or airplane seat in advance. All of these experiences allow potential customers to try before they buy, and are a signal that brands are betting that VR taste tests will translate into actually spending on R & R.

VR also allows brands to do more storytelling. VR is often touted for its ability to get viewers to empathize with what they’ve seen to a greater degree than is possible in video or print. This is why tourism boards from Wales to Singapore have launched innovation funds and VR documentary series to tell their stories in ways that strike an emotional chord.

“As a charity, we want to inspire people about the amazing wildlife that we have here,” Gina Gavigan of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales told the BBC. “There’s no better way to do that than VR.”

3. Integrating home life with travel life

Best Western’s deployment of Amazon Alexa smart devices is just the tip of the device-berg, if you will. As everyday objects from smartphones and wallets, to speakers, fitness trackers, and vehicles get smarter, consumers will expect brands to predict their preferences based on their personal data footprint.

Take, for example, the things connected devices already know about most consumers. For the 17.5 percent of the U.S. population with smart thermostats, why wouldn’t a hotel room adjust to their preference? For those with streaming video services, why wouldn’t an airline’s in-flight system know what movies they haven’t yet watched? And why wouldn’t a travel booking site’s Messenger chatbot be able to update an existing reservation with a saved payment method without ever putting the customer on hold to involve an agent?

For business travelers, the expectations are even higher. The rental car company Hertz has been successful in the past decade partly because it has relentlessly eliminated points of friction using data. It was among the first to offer self-checkout kiosks and 24/7 customer support using digital channels. In the future, brands will need to do all this and more just to keep up.

The future is connected

Today, AI, VR, and IoT in hospitality are all converging. More connected devices means more data. That means AI algorithms are trained on better datasets and can perform more functions. And a greater understanding of guests’ interests, desires, and experiences means more interactive and engaging VR experiences before, en-route, and at their destination.

As customer expectations rise, technology offers an answer. The challenge for hospitality brands is investing in the right systems before it’s too late.

Learn more about how Conversocial can help integrate Messenger Customer Chat and other Social Messaging into your customer care programme: 

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Over the past six months, you may have noticed a little blue Messenger widget appearing on brands websites. From Volaris Airlines to Argos, brands are leaning into the power of Messenger Customer Chat as customer care channel.

But this has raised a new question, that needs answering, for enterprises everywhere: Does Messenger Customer Chat have the potential to replace live chat?

Yes. There is a strong case to say that it will.

Messenger is a fusion of both real-time chat (and all of the accompanying functionalities such as typing indicators) as well as asynchronous messages with notifications.

Asynchronicity is one of the key factors that makes Messenger so convenient and powerful. Customers can start a conversation with brands, do something else more important and then pick up the same conversation right where they left off 30 minutes later. Gone are the days of being 100% engaged in a webchat and nothing else. Now you can order a coffee, talk to a friend, and have your service issue resolved all at the same time.

Messenger offers a unique opportunity for brands that are willing to embrace it as a scalable care channel. However, while the 1:1 private nature of messaging is in some ways very similar to live chat, there are a few key ways it is different—and this has an impact on workflow, KPIs, and agent training.

Here are five questions you can ask yourself to decide which comes out ahead. Let’s dive into the pros and cons of each:

1. How important is conversation continuity?

While there are no public numbers, it's fair to assume that conversation abandonment on live chat is high. Customers engage, get distracted, and frequently meander away. With most live chat vendors today, if that customer returns just a few hours later and renews the chat, everything starts over. That’s because live chat systems don’t have a way of validating individuals and resuming conversations. Messenger solves that problem.

Most live chat systems don’t have a way of resuming conversations. Messenger solves this problem.

Messenger conversations are both real-time and, if customers abandon the conversation, asynchronous. Because customers must be logged into Facebook to use Messenger for support, brands can save the conversation and pick it up where they left off for a faster, more pleasing support experience.

Winner: Messenger

2. How important is agent/team productivity?

From website bubbles to typing indicators, live chat and Messenger function very similarly. But for social care agents there are a few clear differences:

  • The asynchronous nature means that conversations can pause and resume between messages. Agents need to be able to have a real-time conversation while the customer is present, but be able to seamlessly shift to the next conversation if they are waiting on the customer.
  • Waiting on the customer can sometimes take days. This means the agent picking up that conversation needs to be able to quickly read up on the background of the conversation and continue where it was left off.
  • Conversations on Messenger can be closely intertwined with a public social presence on Facebook. In those cases, conversations can switch between public and private posts—so agents need to be able to track conversations as they switch, and understand how to respond differently in the public vs private spheres.
  • Messaging channels were built with automation in mind. The result is that they are much more productive than the traditional channels in intertwining human and bot interactions. But agents must be aware of this sometimes complex workflow.

A digital support tool built for social messaging addresses these workflow hurdles and turns them into advantages. Conversocial, for instance, gives agents a single view of all of a customers’ interactions across channels and allows agents to easily cache and resume conversations, or bring new agents up to speed. The Conversocial platform also allows conversations started on Messenger to be prioritized, agents therefore can treat the inquiry as a live chat conversation initially.

Winner: Messenger

3. Do you want to deploy chatbots?

So what about support automation? Chatbots seem to have passed through Gartner’s trough of disillusionment and are finally proving their worth. Accenture estimates that they can now handle as many as 80 percent of all support interactions and can escalate the remainder to a real agent.

Here, Facebook holds an advantage. The world’s largest social media site was among the first to plant the flag on the AI chatbot revolution and, despite setbacks, the Messenger platform is well ahead of most competitors, with over 100,000 chatbots. Facebook provides extensive developer documentation and has a thriving ecosystem of partners to help companies build chatbots that really work.

Previously, in the customer service domain, it was much harder to automate full conversations—there are just too many variables for what a customer could ask. But these changes to Messenger results in a different outcome. Humans and automation can sit side by side in a way that’s never been possible before.

Done right, the Social Messaging advantage for bot-augmented interactions has clear business impact:

  • Bots help brands drive a higher customer experience
    • Optimization for common inquiries results in quicker response times and faster time to resolution for customers.
  • Bots help brands drive a lower cost-to-serve
    • Bot-ready platforms that combine both bot and agent assisted service result in fewer inquiries needing a human response.

Winner: Messenger

4. Do you want to customize the chat window?

When it comes to customization, live chat has more to offer. Facebook’s great strength – its simple, intuitive interface – is also, partly, a weakness. While customers may be enticed to try Messenger support because of the social proof and brand equity they already feel with Facebook, its logo is permanently pasted on your site. Many live chat options are less strict and allow brands to inject custom CSS to brand the chat experience. Messenger has also recently released some creative ways to customize Customer Chat, including greeting text and color themes.  

Winner: Live chat

5. Does your brand value data privacy?

There’s no discussing Facebook these days without talking about data use. Some publications have voiced concerns about allowing Facebook access to their customer support information. But the fear may be overblown. “Let me shut this down right here,” Facebook Messenger’s Head of Product Stan Chudnovsky told CNN. “No, we are not using anyone’s microphone to target ads, nor are we using the context of your Messenger conversations.” Facebook insists that the data is only used to increase the service’s utility and nothing more.

Brands will have to decide for themselves whether the added utility of asynchronous conversations, better customer experiences, and more intelligent chatbots that come with Messenger are worth trusting Facebook. But, given the Cambridge Analytica scandal, few brands now have greater reason or resources to protect their users’ data than Facebook, which is now on high alert. 

However, for companies that operate in regulated industries, live chat current security status still wins out (it allows brands to validate their customers PPI behind owned firewall and tech infrastructure). This is a big draw for financial institutions due to regulations. However, there are workarounds both in the Messenger platform and Conversocial's Social Bind offering. And it's not like live chat vendors are immune to data breaches either, with both Delta and Sears being targeted last year

to data it's not like live chat vendors aren't subject to data breaches also

Winner: Tie

Messenger will only get better and better

If we had to bet on a horse in this race, only Messenger is backed by a Fortune 100 company with thousands of developers and a deep commitment to conquering the business support market. Expect Messenger’s functionality – already at an advantage – to get better and better. So yes, for most companies, Facebook Messenger is a replacement for live chat. And a pretty good one at that. 

Fundamentally, what is clear, is that your business needs to be ready to offer Messenger as a Social Messaging channel.

Learn more about how Conversocial can help integrate Messenger Customer Chat and other Social Messaging into your customer care program.
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Earlier this month I was at F8, Facebook’s annual developer conference, in San Jose. I’ve attended pretty much all of these conferences, back from when the Facebook Platform was primarily about Farmville and throwing sheep at each other (remember that!?). What a long way we’ve come since then. It was especially great to see the Conversocial logo up on stage in the keynote as a key Messenger partner, for the third year in a row.

My new book, Message Me, on the future of customer care in the era of social messaging and AI is now out! You can order it on Amazon here.

While privacy and security took center stage at the beginning of the conference (with Mark Zuckerberg announcing huge investment and increased transparency in this area), the general mood was upbeat—people seem to feel that Facebook have handled the Cambridge Analytica crisis well, and have turned a corner. I think the adjustments we are going through right now, while painful for many of us in the industry, are truly a step in the right direction.

Spotlight on Customer Care

David Marcus demoing Messenger Customer Chat during the opening keynote

Customer care was discussed multiple times during the opening keynote, with Mark Zuckerberg announcing the imminent launch of WhatsApp enterprise accounts, and David Marcus demoing Messenger Customer Chat. Facebook are making serious investments into making their messaging platforms powerful customer service channels, and it's having a big impact: Conversocial partnered with Facebook to get the first beta customers of Messenger Customer Chat live in November, and we’re already seeing impressive results from brands who are using it to replace their traditional web chat: Volaris, the Mexican airline, have found messaging to be 83% more cost effective than traditional chat (read the full case study here).

With billions of users and engagement continuing to rise, messaging has truly paved the way for a new era of communication. With 8 billion messages now being sent between people and businesses every month via  Messenger (4x in the last 12 months), brands have a huge opportunity to use messaging to transform their customer service experience—it's the first channel that can deliver a better customer experience (it's the most effortless way for consumers to engage) without increasing costs, especially when combined with intelligent automation (which, done correctly, increases efficiency without compromising on the customer experience). Compared to phone or traditional web chat, the ability to combine humans and automation seamlessly in the same messaging conversation has the potential to revolutionize customer service delivery.

Message Me—available for order now!

Robert Stephens, Co-founder of Assist, sharing a copy of my book at an event they put on at F8

I’m really excited to finally be launching my book, Message Me, on the future of customer service in the era of social messaging and artificial intelligence. It’s been a big labor of love over the past year and half—I'd love to know what you think. You can order it from Amazon here!

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Ten years ago, smartphones were in their infancy. Snapchat, Uber, and Airbnb didn’t exist and private space companies were still the purview of science fiction. Where might we be in another 10? Or how about just five?

The year 2023 (scarily) will be here before we know it. This is also the year that Uber has affixed its flying taxi service launch. So in the spirit of getting ahead of customer expectations, here are four current technological trends that may soon impact the CX mapping at enterprise brands.

1. Social Messaging channels will be customers go-to option for support

The messaging revolution isn’t coming–it’s very much already here. As much as half the world’s population–3.6 billion people–already have at least one messaging app on their smartphone, and they expect to receive support from businesses there. 

Thirty-seven percent of consumers have used digital care channels like messaging apps for support, and 100 percent of them expect the experience to be seamless. It’s clear that brands who want to take their customers seriously in 2018 must embrace Social Messaging platforms within their customer support stack.

For big brands, change isn’t always easy, but the switch to Social Messaging already has a lot of momentum. For Conversocial partner Volaris Airlines, who are replacing traditional "Live Chat" with Messenger Customer Chat, the benefits are already beginning to show. With Facebook Messenger now accounting for nearly 59% of Volaris' total messaging volume, the airline's case study reveals the numerous efficiency and experiential gains of Social Messaging as a customer care channel:

  1. Average Handling Time has been reduced by 29%, as agents are able to handle up-to 5 conversations simultaneously on Messenger customer chat compared to 2 conversations via live chat and 1 via phone
  2. Agent Response Time has been reduced by 43% and First Response Time has been reduced by 78%
  3. Most impressively, cost per interaction via Messenger is 83% more cost effective over other channels in the Volaris contact center

In 2023, Social Messaging support on Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, Apple Business Chat and more will be the de facto channel where customers expect assistance.

The future of customer support is Social Messaging. Read The Rise of Messaging .

2. Consumers will expect breezy, cashless transactions

We’re quickly moving toward a post-cash world. A 2017 survey by U.S. Bank found that half of consumers in the U.S. never carry more than $20. Instead, they prefer credit cards and increasingly, alternative payments through smartphone apps and digital wallets like Apple Pay, Android Pay, and PayPal.

Already, alternative payments account for more than half of all global commerce and will grow to 64 percent of all transactions by 2020 according to research firm yStats. By 2023, consumers will look at brands sideways if they demand a cash payment or force buyers to insert a plastic credit card. Instead, consumers will expect tap-to-pay ease and fingerprint-grade security.

3. Contextual commerce will force all brands to invest in user-experience (UX) design

As devices become smarter, brands will have to interact with consumers across a far greater number of touchpoints. Smart home assistants, for example, will account for 50 percent of all website search traffic by 2020 according to Comscore. That means that brands such as United Airlines, Patron, Capital One, and Purina, which have all launched apps for Amazon’s smart home device Alexa, are having to think deeply about what customer experience means when it’s communicated through an electronic interpreter.

Consumers will also expect most devices to talk to one another. As the payments platform Braintree points out, concertgoers already expect to buy food and drinks with an RFID wristband or their smartphone. Friends having a conversation in Facebook Messenger currently have the tools to reserve a table at a restaurant or order a taxi through a ride-hailing service without leaving the app. In the near future, these customers will expect to reach brands and pay for services instantly through whatever social media site or messaging app they’re on.

Brands in 2023 will invest much more heavily in user experience (UX) design to make sure that all those touchpoints reflect their brand and fit into their customers’ increasingly fragmented journeys.

4. Consumers’ AI-assistants will talk to brands’ AI-assistants

Artificial intelligence (AI) is here and it’s doing a lot of consumers’ thinking for them. AI already powers Google searches, Amazon recommendations, and Facebook's news feed. As consumers rely more and more on services such as voice-driven assistants like Apple’s Siri and Google’s OK Google, they’ll begin to allow these AI assistants to interact with brands on their behalf.

Consider an AI assistant tasked with booking a flight, shopping for a dress, or looking up the ingredients in a power bar. Brands will effectively be dealing with AI shoppers, not people. How will they react? Probably, by deploying their own AI assistants. In 2023, it’s likely that consumers’ AI assistants will interface with brands’ AI assistants, and their human owners will only dip into the conversation if their opinion is needed.

How will shopping, traveling, dining, and customer engagement all change when transactions are instant and AI-assisted? It’s difficult to say for certain, just as it would have been impossible to predict the messaging app revolution ten years ago. But brands that invest in adapting to their customers’ current needs by streamlining their payments, investing in UX, deploying messaging support, and exploring AI will probably be among the first to find out.

Learn more about how Conversocial can help integrate Messenger Customer Chat and other Social Messaging into your customer care program.
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Messaging proves to be 83% more cost effective while driving higher customer satisfaction in our latest case study with Volaris Airlines. 

Brands like Volaris Airlines are replacing traditional "Live Chat" with Messenger customer chat to deliver a superior customer experience while reducing service costs, a win-win for consumers and brands.

Why? Social messaging provides an advantage over live chat, email and voice, allowing brands to break free from the constraints of trying to deliver good customer service while keeping cost to serve low. By harnessing the asynchronous nature of messaging, there's no agent downtime, providing the opportunity to provide a great customer experience while reducing service costs.

In November 2017, Conversocial became one of the first platform providers to participate in the closed beta launch of Messenger customer chat, a new capability of Facebook Messenger that enables customers to message with businesses across both web and Messenger. This combined Conversocial's customer care platform offerings with the power of the world's fastest growing social messaging platform, Facebook Messenger.

Over the past six months, the effectiveness of Messenger customer chat as a customer service solution was put to the test through by Conversocial customer Volaris Airlines, who were among the earliest brands to gain access to the customer chat closed beta. Shortly after the digitally-savvy airline began promoting messaging as a customer service option, Messenger quickly emerged as the preferred method for customers to contact the brand, with over 48% of customer care interactions being conducted on Facebook messenger alone.

With Facebook Messenger now accounting for nearly 59% of Volaris' total messaging volume, the airline's case study reveals the numerous efficiency and experiential gains of social messaging as a customer care channel:

  • Average Handling Time has been reduced by 29%, as agents are able to handle up-to 5 conversations simultaneously on Messenger customer chat compared to vs. 2 conversations via live chat and 1 via phone
  • Agent Response Time has been reduced by 43% and First Response Time has been reduced by 78%
  • Most impressively, cost per interaction via Messenger is 83% more cost effective over other channels in the Volaris contact center
"Through Conversocial, we have been able to invest in Messenger as one of our main customer service channels, enabling Volaris to not only improve response-times, but significantly reduce costs – keeping true to ourselves and our ultra-low-cost business model. Being able to listen and interact with our customers in ways our customers prefer, and in real-time when necessary, has positively impacted our bottom line."  -  Andreas Waldmann, Digital Director, Volaris Airlines

Messenger has allowed Volaris to harness the asynchronous nature of social messaging, breaking free of the lack of concurrency of traditional "webchat"– as a result, the brand has reduced cost per resolution and reduced response times, while increasing response rate and customer satisfaction overall. Moreover, the brand has been quick to recognize how complementary messaging is to automation and AI, with 85% of conversations handled via a BOT without needed intervention by a human agent. This helps keep agents focused on the more complicated conversations where their involvement has the most positive impact on the customer experience.

"We're excited to see businesses empower their customers to communicate over Messenger. Solutions like Conversocial are creating richer customer experiences which drive positive business results," said Andrew Kritzer, Product Manager, Facebook Messenger. "With customer chat, people can message on a business's website and seamlessly continue the conversation in Messenger. Businesses can follow-up with or re engage their customers using the same conversation. Customer engagement is quickly changing from session-based support to building authentic customer relationships."

As compelling as these results are, Conversocial CEO, Joshua March, isn't surprised. "Forward-thinking brands like Volaris are rapidly embracing and promoting Messenger for customer care; it's where customers are, and it's quickly become their preferred channel for brand inquiries. Our customers have seen quick growth and huge success with Messenger during the last 6 months, as it has made the customer service journey significantly easier to use than any other channel, while also being highly efficient and easier to automate for brands like Volaris–making it easier to scale and focus live agents on the right customer conversations."

Public Press Release >

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