Is a messenging app the new SMB marketing must have?

Messaging is an integral part of billions of people’s daily lives around the world.  Facebook currently estimates over 3.5B people around the world will use a messaging app this year. And over 1 in 2 people say messaging has replaced other types of conversations they are having.

With this in mind, messaging provides untold opportunities for businesses that engage with the platform, giving them the ability to form connections with their customers.

According to Burns if people can message with you, they will feel more confident in your business.

“Half the people we surveyed globally said messaging is the modern way to communicate.

It’s clear hopefully that the shift has happened. They want to message businesses and we need to catch up with their expectations.”

So where does the conversation fit for your business?  Burns suggest commitment is key for anyone planning to go down the path of messaging with customers.

“Anything new is going to be difficult. So, whether you have to build a task force, enlist help from other team members – make a commitment and dive in. I hear so many tales of clients who build something interesting but it doesn’t connect with anything else. You need to make sure Messenger is an integrated part of the way you communicate across your business.”

Burns suggests customers who get Messenger ‘right’ reap dividends.

“You can take someone who was uncertain about buying and move them to the end of the funnel,” she says.

Clarabella Burley is the Senior Manager Automation and Social at Qantas. Burley says the brand realised more and more customers wanted to engage with them on Messenger.

“it was a tipping point for us. We are very responsive of how our customers want to talk to us and we realised it was something we couldn’t ignore and we had to service our customers.”

Since instigating Messenger, Burley says 30 per cent of customer communication now comes through this channel.

“We have an amazing team that look after responses and the channel grew far quicker than we anticipated.”

Burley says the brand employs fairly sophisticated chatbots to service the channel but there is also a dedicated team who answer queries.

“We realised a big piece of the pie and a benefit for us was the customer service angle. We will still have people on those channels as there are extremely complex queries but there is so much that can be answered via automation.”

Burley says there is a persistent menu item to go through to a human.

“We do a lot of testing to make sure we don’t frustrate our customers,” she explains.

She says using messaging has been an incredibly positive experience for the brand.

“It’s been fantastic. We are now seeing 60 per cent of queries solved through the bot. it’s been a very positive journey for us.

Burley says the brand has relied on partners expertise to ensure they deliver the best app and advises anyone considering building an app to seek expert support.

“I think it’s a new platform and we have great partners with Facebook. I think there were really basic things we didn’t think of – like fields in templates – the small catches you stumble on, the finer nuances, and having a partner and investing in-house has helped us overcome those hurdles.

“We partnered with an external for our first iteration. But we needed to invest in-house. It’s not set and forget – it’s long-term and needs to echo what we are putting out on our app so we need people focused on our IP.”

Burley advises anyone planning to jump into the messaging channel needs to be prepared to be responsive.

“For us it’s been about us working in lockstep and in tandem with external partners. Innovation is in our DNA – we were the first to put iPads in the cockpit – but we have a lot of systems to integrate with and we may not all be at the same point in the roadmap. So our partners need to be standing next to us.

“The biggest thing is don’t get your heart set on a roadmap. We have a great insights team that give us rich information.  We came up with all these ideas – but our customers give us real-time feedback and you need to be responsive to that.  Keep moving with the trends.”

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Cec is the managing editor of KBB. She is a multimedia professional with over fifteen years experience as an editor on titles as diverse as SX, CULT, Better Pictures, Total Rock, MTV, fasterlouder, mynikonlife and Fantastic Living. She has spent the past four years working as a news journalist covering all the issues that matter in the political, health and LGBTIQ arena. She is the Head of Content at Pinstripe Media and a recent convert to the world of small business.

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