STORY INLINE POST
Would you say you have absolutely mastered the art of chatting with your friends? I bet it might seem silly to ask, when we literally live glued to our mobile phones and have Pavlovian reactions to the incessant chimes of WhatsApp, Instagram DMs, and iMessages.
Generally speaking, people all around the world have learned to communicate everything through messages. So, now that brands have discovered messaging experiences as a new way of connecting with their target audience, they have to master that same skill to attract and retain loyal customers.
When chatting with your friends or family, you instinctively know what kind of language, stickers, GIFs or emojis are appropriate for the conversation. And as many WhatsApp groups as you might have, it’s unlikely you’ll have more than five active conversations in a day. For brands, it’s another story: imagine simultaneously having hundreds of conversations, each from a completely different user who expects you to respond immediately, listen attentively, solve their problems and provide them with a positive experience. Your interest as a brand is to keep them in your arena instead of your competitors’.
Tricky as it may sound, I thought I might explain a few basics and let you in on the Secrets of Mastering the Art of Customer Conversations.
Oftentimes, I have deep conversations with brands that are looking to launch their first messaging experience. Often, they want to integrate simple bots to their websites and messaging channels that are capable of answering FAQs, but with no integration into their backend whatsoever. Although it’s not a bad start, I am a strong defender of doing things right from the start. My advice is to take a step back, reflect and truly understand your customer journey, which in general, looks like this:
Attraction: How do you get people interested in your product?
Consideration: What questions does your customer ask before buying your product?
Customer Conversion: How do they purchase your product?
Retention: What post-sales customer service do you offer and how do you follow up on their experience through messages?
Today, 84 percent of the time spent on a smartphone is spent on messaging platforms, and for that reason only, messaging is your customer journey.
The key to a successful messaging experience is to enable it throughout the entire customer journey, and to have a clear understanding of what the overall objective is (improving sales, improving customer service, etc.). Once engaged with your customers, ask yourself what proactive messages will be sent to them. This can vary from order confirmations and reminders to outbound promotions. The best strategy is to start off with both. That way, you engage the customer with timely notifications, which improves your customer service, while simultaneously building trust of the client so that you can send promotions. At GUS, we have proven that when messaging experiences are applied to the customer journey early on in the product life cycle, your brand has more meaningful conversations earlier on. From there, you build up.
To stress my point about how important messaging is nowadays for brands, just answer this question: How many of you have flagged a phone number as spam over the past month? Too many, I believe. Plus, most phones alert you about a possible spam number before you even answer, which means brands that invest in call centers to approach their customers are most likely losing money by the minute. The fact is, people today prefer chatting with brands rather than speaking to agents, which is an incredible opportunity to engage with your customers. Of course, when things get out of hand and your customers ask to speak to someone, you need to make sure a human agent is on the other end to offer 360º customer service.
Implementing bots and AI tools is simple, really. But doing it right is as tricky as any other digital strategy: you have to start somewhere and learn what works best for your brand along the way. Start by committing to a reasonable volume of messages in a short period of time. We recommend a minimum of 10,000 engagements a month and up to 100,000 for large brands. Just make sure you’re not too cautious and that your bot truly engages with your customer. Otherwise, there won’t be enough data for you to analyze and iterate to improve your customer experience.