It’s no secret that the brands leading the pack right now are the ones putting the customer right at the heart of everything they do, and technology is making this even easier to do.
Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that Facebook’s Messenger app now supports bots and with WhatsApp starting to share user data with Facebook, it is easy to see how messaging apps present a huge opportunity for brands to deliver a hyper personalised experience.
On average 19.1 billion messages are sent every day through messaging apps, compared to 17.6 billion via text message. It is undeniable that messaging apps are increasingly becoming the preferred platform of communication for customers, opening up a whole new world for brands and a plethora of opportunities to be taken advantage of.
Before getting ahead of yourself and jumping on the messaging app wagon – you need to think about what your brand purpose is within this channel. We’re all guilty of following the crowd – who else found themselves catching Pokemon in the middle of a crowded street? No? Just us then…
But just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do.
The same principle applies for brands and messaging apps. Just because other brands are doing it (Hellmanns, BBC, Just Eat, KLM and Sephora to name a few), doesn’t mean you should too. It is important to truly understand how your brand fits within messaging apps.
Below we explore three opportunities we see for brands right now:
1) PERSONALISED EXPERIENCES
If there is something that today’s consumer craves it is instant, useful, personalised interactions with brands. We are in the age of Uber and Amazon where customers expect the purchasing experience to be as easy as a few finger taps.
A great example of a brand offering a personalised experience on messaging apps is Sephora. Users can take a quiz with Sephora’s chatbot to then receive personalised make-up tips and recommendations based on the information they provide. Content shared includes video tutorials, tips and product reviews as well as seamlessly linking customers to purchase relevant products.
Messaging apps are so intrinsically part of our lives and used on such a mass scale, there is no friction to the process; there is no ‘download the app now’ or ‘register here’, in just a few minutes you can get what you want on your preferred platform of communication.
2) VALUE EXCHANGE
One thing to keep in mind is that you are reaching customers on a personal platform which they are used to using to communicate with friends and family. Brands need to be careful; the last thing you want to do is become known for constantly messaging about irrelevant things. Be authentic, stay true to your brand purpose and don’t spam!
A good question to ask is: what value can we add to our customers through messaging apps?
Brands such as KLM have been using Facebook’s Messenger app to send flight updates, boarding passes, weather forecasts, and information about what to do in the customers destination. Uber and Lyft are letting users order rides directly within the Messenger app. All clear examples of how to improve the customer experience by adding value and staying relevant to your brand purpose.
The lesson here is to know who your customers are, and understand the ways in which they like to communicate. Once you truly understand this you can provide something that is focused on their needs.
3) CUSTOMER SERVICE
Perhaps one of the best opportunities for brands is using messaging apps as a customer service platform. The digital first consumer isn’t used to waiting around; they expect on-demand support.
Starwood Hotels have been actively engaging with their customers by using WhatsApp as a customer service platform. Guests are able to speak directly to a customer service representative to pre-order breakfast, set a wakeup call or make bookings and reservations.
Brands are now able to offer a simplified customer service process, with real-time, private, personal interactions at every stage of the customer interaction from initial enquiry through to purchase and after purchase support.
So where does your brand fit into all of this?
Messaging apps are new territory for brands and while it is important to stay ahead of the curve, your approach needs to be centred on content and services that add value to your customers. You need to be clear about your brand and your purpose – remember, today’s savvy consumer can see right through you.
Some questions to ask yourself:
– Will we be providing discounts or special offers?
– Will we be providing useful and relevant content?
– Could we use messaging apps as a customer service platform?
This is a new world for brands, and one that promises a more direct and personalised relationship with consumers. Messaging apps have great potential as long as brands can seamlessly integrate themselves into conversations without disrupting.
It’s time to think: Are messaging apps the right channel for my brand? If so, what value can I add to my customers?