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Messenger Is Changing Customer Service Profoundly: Here's How For routine communications, people increasingly prefer messaging to talking. That has big implications for business.

By Murray Newlands

entrepreneur daily

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Slowly but surely, bots are replacing the search window, the site-based shopping cart, and outdated marketing tools. But most importantly, messaging solutions and bots are now acting as first-contact customer service agents, reducing business costs drastically and improving CSAT scores across the board. Everyone is asking: how can I use enterprise chatbot messaging to improve customer care to help me capture sales and reduce costs?

Anand Chandrasekaran, Head of Messenger Partnerships at Facebook, was kind enough to answer just that, giving us his unique insight into how you can leverage messaging and bots as an integral part of your customer service strategy.

Related: Top 10 Best Chatbot Platform Tools to Build Chatbots for Your Business

What are some of the ways you have seen Messenger improve customer care?

Even before getting into customer care, let's set the context: Messenger now has 1.2+ billion users every month, and we now have two billion messages that people and businesses send to each other each day, including automated messages from bot interactions. Given those two facts, Messenger has become a platform that both consumers and businesses are using in a profound way. Also, 18 million of the roughly 65 million Facebook Pages out there have messaging turned on today. Between the number of business messaging, total of messages sent, and total number of consumers, I think Messenger starts to be a platform that really matters, to both businesses and consumers.

The other big takeaway is that businesses are starting to see this as an essential platform to generate business outcomes with their clients and partners. The example that we use is White Pages vs. Yellow Pages. The White Pages for dozens of years was regarded as the universal directory to find and contact almost anyone. The White Pages of today is Messenger, as all you need to do is type in a name, and you have 1.2B chances to find the person you're looking for. Similarly, people had the same expectations of the Yellow Pages for where and how to find businesses and services – and again, we're taking that model to Messenger.

For businesses on Messenger, we are discovering that some just message from their page, some have a more sophisticated integration, and others have a full Messenger bot integration. But regardless, people want to message and connect with businesses, and they're going to Messenger more and more to find them.

Related: How to Create a Facebook Messenger Chatbot For Free Without Coding

With that context, what are you seeing in care?

We did a study which indicated that across age demographics, consumers actually prefer messaging a business as opposed to calling or visiting the business in person. Intuitively, the customer behavior is the biggest driver in this adoption. For example, one use case might be you are in the middle of dinner and you realize that something needs to be resolved. You don't stop dinner if you need to call somebody. The more natural behavior is to message them, and the interaction is asynchronous. Then they can take a couple of minutes to get back to you, and by the time you are done with dinner, you have a resolution.

We all have a story like this. In my case, I use a laundry service called Purple Tie. I wasn't able to find my order, so I messaged them on Messenger and within three minutes they messaged me back with their normal escalation response. It said, "Someone is going to call you in two minutes." Because I was expecting the call, I picked up when the phone rang, which I otherwise wouldn't have done -- the agent was able to reach me proactively, and the issue was resolved in a couple of minutes. I think it's a really great medium to start that interaction.

Also, because messaging is private and one-on-one, a lot of data can be shared and both parties are comfortable sharing that requisite information to solve the problem.

Related: Enterprise Chatbots and the Conversational Commerce Revolutionizing Business

What trends are you noticing around businesses using bots and/or messaging for customer service?

Number one, summarizing what we have just talked about here, is go to where your customers already are. Around 1.2 billion customers are using Messenger monthly, and a lot of them are getting used to the behavior of messaging a business, so it's a very compelling place for a business to start spending their time. Nearly 20 million businesses on Facebook are already turning on messaging and actively messaging back.

The second thing is to start with the outcome and identify what you are solving for. Some businesses would look at this as an upselling opportunity, as great customer care often leads to the opportunity to upsell. Some businesses would look at it as an opportunity to increase the customer satisfaction (CSAT) score, because that is a metric that is important to our business. And some other businesses might look at it as wanting to increase employee productivity, because they are able to resolve more issues using this as a channel to resolve issues quicker, as opposed to some other channel. Not that some of this are good and some are bad, but the important thing is to clarify your goal.

Related: Enterprise Chatbots Platforms and the Future of Work

Number three is: you shouldn't be too embarrassed to copy. There are publicly available case studies where people are seeing CSAT improvements, employee productivity increases, cost decreases, as well as upsell opportunities. It's better to do what someone else is doing as their phase one, before saying, "Okay, I'm going to do it in a totally different and unique way." We are in the phase of the evolution where there is enough results. Rogers experienced a 65% increase in their CSAT, and Globe Telecom in the Philippines experienced a 50% reduction in calls on their hotline once they resolved the issue on Messenger. As a result they had 3.5x increase in employee productivity, because they were not receiving calls from the same people whose issues they had resolved.

Murray Newlands

Entrepreneur, business advisor and online-marketing professional

Murray Newlands is an entrepreneur, investor, business advisor and speaker. He is the founder of chatbot builder tool and Read his blog

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