Over the last few years, the use of messenger apps has skyrocketed. WhatsApp usage alone is now over 85.21 billion hours with 1.6 billion users worldwide while Facebook Messenger is right behind with 1.3 billion users.

 

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Texting and messaging through apps has become a top way to communicate. The ability to connect and chat with businesses in a convenient, accessible and trackable way is a huge benefit for customers.

 

For businesses, with engagement rates reaching up to 80 percent, it comes as no surprise that companies are adopting messaging as a key element in their marketing and customer care strategies.

 

Not only do messaging apps offer a more efficient, cost-effective way to handle customer care, they offer a means to excel at it.

 

In this article, I’ll share tips and best practices you can use to improve your social customer care in the evolving world of messaging apps.

 

The Most Popular Messaging Apps

 

The most popular messaging app in North America is Facebook Messenger. At Facebook’s recent F8 Developer Conference, the company focused extensively on Messenger as a priority. This means small business owners do need to pay closer attention to the improvements Facebook offers in Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram Direct.

 

In addition to Facebook Messenger, Apple’s iMessage is vastly popular in the U.S. Plus, check out Apple’s Business Chat, which is growing in popularity among brands.

 

Outside of the U.S., WhatsApp is the runaway leader. If you have international customers, you’d do well to bring WhatsApp into your marketing mix and social customer care tools.

 

For third party Facebook Messenger chatbots, definitely take a look at MobileMonkey and ManyChat. Both companies offer extensive support, training and communities into which you can tap for maximum effectiveness right out the gate.

 

Related:

Facebook Messenger Chatbots Give Small Business Owners an Edge

 

Why Your Small Business Should Use Messaging Apps

 

Messaging apps in demand. A study by Messenger People found 117 million customer queries were received on WhatsApp by companies in the last 12 months. Messaging apps allow companies to meet customers where they are at, when they need them most. If this is what the market demands, the greatest step towards enhancing customer care is provide that solution.

 

Messaging apps increase engagement. When it comes to business, attention is the game. There is a strong case to be made for the ability to follow up and keep in touch with customers once they have contacted you. Certainly, millennials prefer to deal with companies by text; 83 percent of millennials open text messages within 90 seconds. Being able to communicate directly with customers with such high engagement rates is a huge opportunity for companies.

 

Messaging apps are convenient. Messaging apps evolved from social networks. They provided a way to combine all the key features from different apps and implement them into one platform for the user’s convenience. Rather than having to download a separate app or go through the traditional telephone/email process to contact a company, messaging allows users to quickly reach out to a company and start a conversation while continuing on with their day.

 

Messaging apps are efficient. Messaging apps create a centralized conversation with customers making it easy for different team members to track the conversation, access all the relevant information, and provide streamlined solutions in one place. No more passing the phone to different teams and waiting on hold for hours. This in itself improves customer care through efficient processes.

 

Messaging apps are low cost. For the most part, messenger apps are free to use. All they require is a data or WIFI connection. This saves significant resources, once only allocated to call centers and hiring a number of customer care representatives. While companies definitely still require customer care representatives, the very nature of the chat is through written word enabling employees to manage multiple conversations at one time.

 

Chat conversations are more cost and time efficient than the traditional phone conversations that were restricted to one customer at a time and often involved wait time. For customers, timely responses are a huge plus when it comes to their customer experience.

 

Messaging apps can be partially automated. Messenger chatbots can be used to provide instant solutions to standard customer service questions. Messenger chatbots are not designed to replace human interaction. They are designed to support it.

 

Most likely, there are a few key actions customers are looking to take when they message you. A messenger chatbot can provide instant first-level support by answering common questions regarding appointments, open hours, directions, returns, payments, and so on. This means customers no longer have to wait for a human to get back to them. If they still require human support, it should be made available promptly but chatbots offer an instant solution to increasing customer satisfaction.

 

As AI continues to advance, Messenger chatbots are becoming more sophisticated. This helps to find a quick solution while also creating a personalized experience for the customer.

 

Messaging App Best Practices

 

To ensure a streamlined customer experience, you’ll want to properly set up your messaging processes. To ensure you implement messenger bots successfully, here are some best practices to follow.

 

1. Be human.

 

People don’t like to talk to robots. They also don’t appreciate pre-written, scripted responses. If a customer is reaching out to you, it’s because they need help. The need people who can understand their problems on an emotional level and relate to how they are feeling in this moment.

 

If you do decide to implement a messenger chatbot, proceed with caution. Start very simply and focus on getting the process right first. Remember that chatbots are not designed to replace human support; they exist to provide quick solutions. Always let the customer know they are speaking to a chatbot and if they require human support, it is available.

 

2. Be transparent.

 

When it comes to customer service, it’s important to be completely honest and transparent. It is no different when it comes to messaging apps. People understand if you don’t know how to help them or don’t have a quick solution available if you are transparent about it.

 

Rather than leaving a customer waiting hours for a response, politely let them know that you aren’t sure of the solution but you will find out and get back to them by a set time. This way, they understand the situation, can get on with their day and they know when to expect a solution.

 

3. Streamline your processes.

 

It’s important to align your service, sales and marketing teams when it comes to messaging apps. You need to be able to understand where your customers are in their journey and provide the right solution to the right problem.

 

Once they reach the right support, teams need to be able to access all the relevant information to provide a solution. This means companies need to understand the customer journey and have responses instantly available for the most frequently asked questions.

 

4. Respond quickly.

 

Being able to quickly identify customer queries and provide a timely solution is paramount when it comes to reputation management. Of the 117 million customer queries received via WhatsApp, only 62 percentwere answered within 24 hours. If you are going to offer support through messaging apps, it’s important the right resources are allocated to the task at hand. People need quick and accurate responses. Otherwise, you could quickly turn a happy customer into an angry one.

 

People do business with people they know, like and trust. Being able to communicate directly with customers one-on-one in a scalable way is the first step towards creating a personalized experience for your customers. This allows them to feel heard, valued and taken care of.

 

Messaging apps are changing the game when it comes to customer care.  Now is the right time to embrace that!

 

About Mari Smith

 

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Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.

 

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

 

Web: Mari Smith  or Twitter: @MariSmith

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Mari Smith is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

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