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WhatsApp and Facebook Put the Customer in Customer Experience

Winning customer experience battles by thinking like a customer

WhatsApp and Facebook Put the Customer in Customer Experience

Customer Experience. Eurgh. How many blogs, articles and infographics have you seen promising to convert bad customers into your top customers and super-collaber-unify your customer journey with promised results? Luckily, I don’t work in marketing any more so this, I promise, is not that.

My CV covers both the delivery side and sales half of the glass. I have provisioned and project managed the rollout of Unified Comms type services then leapt over the barrier to sales and marketing. Oh, and I’ve been a customer too. Why am I telling you this? Because I’ve seen what is promised, what can be delivered and what is adopted by customers.

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Delving further into my profile, I also run a website aimed at millennials. The content generally evolves around technology and the great things it can do to enhance the modern workplace experience. So, in one ear is the consumer telling me what they want and in the other ear is the entire Unified Comms industry telling me what is available and how life – or more importantly, how business changing – it is.

Customer Experience

Customer Experience has been a buzz word in the Unified Comms industry for some time now. Retail firms have paid the price for poor customer experience (CX) and the technology advancements have opened the door to UC and Contact Centre vendors being able to provide a full multi-channel service.

As standard, we expect voice, email and web chat as a service when purchasing Contact Centre software. But that is no longer enough. Realistically, was it ever enough?

It will be no surprise that 6 of the top 20 apps downloaded for iPhone in 2017 were communication platforms. SnapChat, WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Messenger and Instagram are so heavily used by consumers that the thought of calling, emailing or searching a website for the web chat icon is low down the pecking order.

Please Hold

Waiting on Hold

“Press 1 for Mumford & Sons, 2 for PJ & Duncan…”

The key here is wait time. Traditionally, you associated calling a business with waiting on hold. If you send an email to customer service, you don’t expect a reply for a matter of days. The notion of calling and being told you are 17th in the queue or that your email will be responded to within 5 days is bizarre to the modern consumer. Even with most web chats, you must hold. Then, if you start another task and don’t hear the ding of the chat then you switch back and have timed out so must start the process over.

A few years ago, I called my broadband provider who had tried to make the customer hold period bearable by letting the caller select their genre of music. I could choose Mumford & Sons over PJ & Duncan. This was a poor attempt at improving customer experience when all I – and every other customer – wanted was to get my query resolved.

Please Don’t Hold

This is where businesses adopting WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are winning. The notion of sending a WhatsApp message comes with getting a near-instant reply. The same goes for Facebook Messenger. You also get the comfort of seeing whether the business has seen the messages and they can programme automated replies to make it a little more personal.

I can now log onto my banking app to check my balance or make a payment and am offered the option to start a Facebook Messenger conversation. This is perfect for any query that I wish to log and either start an instant dialogue or start then come back to at another point. When exiting the app, I do not lose the thread of conversation and the business knows that I haven’t read the message yet.

This hybrid of email and web chat is the perfect solution for the modern day, busy consumer.

Doing The Right Thing

Genesys have launched a Beta programme for Business Chat. This goes further and offers purchasing and payments through iPhone messaging. Whether or not this works yet is another topic but the thinking behind this is exactly what the customer of today wants to experience.

As a customer, I probably have my smartphone with me. But I don’t want to call and wait 20 minutes to get through to someone that has to pass me to the relevant team. I do want to initiate a purchase through SMS and I do want to query availability over WhatsApp.

Doing The Wrong Thing

Tim Martin Wetherspoon

Tim Martin, owner of pub & hotel chain, Wetherspoon

Bucking the trend, pub chain J D Wetherspoon have taken down all their social media accounts. Tim Martin, chairman of J D Wetherspoon, stated “I don’t believe that closing these accounts will affect our business whatsoever, and this is the overwhelming view of our pub managers”.

That’s 144,000 followers that can no longer query, complain to or praise the business. But, more importantly, that’s 144,000 followers that can no longer query, complain to or praise the brand in the form of communication of their choice.

Whilst this move may not stop footfall from passers-by, you must think that the repercussions will start to show quickly. The amount of queried receipts, booking enquiries and everything else included when transacting with Wetherspoon via social media will be forced to other platforms. However, the power of the customer is such that the likelihood is the platform will remain the same, but the brand will change. Competing food and drink brands Slug & Lettuce and Harvester must have had a right chuckle when they read the press release.

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We might learn from J D Wetherspoon’s seemingly rash decision to revoke social media when the power of the customer is higher than ever. However, this is a not a model advised. Whilst technology continues to empower the customer, choice is higher than ever, and personal preference is key.

Don’t Get Caught

Apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger aren’t going to disappear overnight. Brands such as Blockbuster and Borders did – and nobody saw it coming. So, learn from their misfortune and invest in going where your customers are, not where you think you can deal with volume.

Got a comment?

1 Comment
AvatarIan Taylor 02:04, 20 Apr 2018

Very true Dominic.

I have to say that having no Social Media is far superior to having a poorly-managed social media account, where complains and feedback fall on deaf ears. From my own experience (I use SM to complain a lot) BT are terrible, but quick to phone me and ask me if I’d like to extend my contract for broadband…lol

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