Customer Communication via WhatsApp and Co.: „Messaging apps will become the standard of the future“
Customer communication via messaging apps (WhatsApp, iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Telegram and so on) is becoming increasingly important. Here Matthias Mehner – Chief Marketing Officer for leading Messenger Services provider MessengerPeople – reveals what companies should consider in order to successfully and professionally begin using messaging apps.
Munich, September, 2018.
Mr. Mehner, why should businesses use messaging apps, and for what purposes?
Messenger communication is mainstream and jumped ahead of e-mail, social media, and telephone long ago. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger both have 1.5 billion users worldwide, across an impressive span of age groups, and are growing twice as fast as the original Facebook platform. WhatsApp is slightly ahead in terms of global dominance: there are only 25 countries in the world where WhatsApp is not the market leader. This offers huge potential for businesses.
According to the YouGov study „WhatsApp in Customer Contact“ one in three WhatsApp users considers it more comfortable and convenient to contact institutions and companies via Messenger, rather than over classic communication channels like e-mail, mail, or telephone hotlines. Facebook’s wide-reaching survey „More than a Message: The Evolution of Conversation“ presents a similar conclusion. Almost 70 percent of all survey respondents said that they much prefer communication over messaging apps than phone calls or e-mails.
Companies should adjust to these new customer needs if they want to remain successful in in the current market.
There are two different ways that companies can use messaging apps in the customer relationships. You have the 1:1 dialogue – the classical customer service, comparable to a service hotline – where a customer writes directly to a company and receives an answer. Then you have content distribution and news, similar to a classic e-mail newsletter or a social media post. With these two options, you can use messaging apps throughout the entire customer journey.
When companies use these contact opportunities to create value for their customers, they gain a distinct advantage over their competitors and are rewarded with customer loyalty and great conversions.
Most companies already have various social media profiles, websites, and telephone hotlines. How are Messenger Services different from these other communication channels?
First off, the stream of information is completely without algorithms – which leads to opening rates of on average 95%. Most messages are read within fifteen minutes, because most users allow WhatsApp to display push notifications on their smartphone lock screen.
Additionally, messaging apps make both synchronous and asynchronous communication possible. A conversation can take place in a live chat in which both chat partners answer one another immediately. But it’s also possible to have a conversation with delays, without losing the contact and the interaction history. If the customer writes to a company about a problem at 8 am, but has to catch a train at 8:05, it’s possible to continue the conversation at any point later. This also allows companies to respond to the customer once they’ve found the most satisfactory answer to the question. For both parties, the chat history offers a clear overview of the entire conversation, in one channel.
Last but not least, the individual and personal exchange over messaging apps offers businesses a closeness to the customer that you just can’t create over other channels.
Is business use of messaging apps actually allowed by data privacy regulations?
The General Data Protection Regulation was put into effect throughout Europe on May 25th, 2018, in order to protect users and the way their personal data is processed. This regulation affects all WhatsApp channel users. By installing WhatsApp, you transfer all contact data to WhatsApp – the GDPR actually states that transferring the data of contacts who are not signed up for WhatsApp (and thus didn’t consent to WhatsApp receiving their information) is not allowed.
For businesses, this means that it is not recommended to directly use the WhatsApp app to communicate with customers, but rather to use established service providers. In this case, the business is using neither a personal cell phone nor a personal telephone number, and all data transfers take place through the service provider.
The GDPR also requires that users have access to information about their personal data and the ability to request that their data be deleted, and states that users cannot be sent messages randomly. Service providers like MessengerPeople can securely fulfill these requirements with a Double-Opt-In user sign up process.
More information about Data Protection and Messaging Apps
What should businesses pay special attention to if they’re interested in offering Messenger Services?
WhatsApp was designed for quick information exchange. That’s how the messaging app is used privately, and part of why it’s so popular. When users contact businesses over this channel, they’ll expect the same type of quick, direct communication.This means that companies need to communicate better over messaging apps than over any other channel. The content has to be relevant and you should not spam the users. In the dialogue (customer service) over WhatsApp and Co. companies have to be quick and helpful.
It’s important to recognize the core function of messaging apps: the conversation. You can use this closeness to the customer to create a direct dialogue that can help you understand your target group and their needs better. If you can react to customer feedback and learn from it, you can receive a great market advantage, lower costs, and raise the quality of your products and serices.
What is the role of Chatbots in Messenger Marketing?
With Chatbots, we are right at the beginning of things and the market is still in an experimental phase. The expectations from both businesses and users are currently overblown, and so the results are often considered disappointing. Chatbots should be a tool within a larger communication strategy, rather than a detached solution that can do everything. Businesses shouldn’t immediately search for an all-in-one magic Chatbot, but use Chatbots as concrete support in a specific area, for example a “Top 50 FAQ” section.
Messengers are booming. Where will this journey take us?
Because of WhatsApp and Co., the dialogue between customers and businesses is back in focus, just as it used to be in brick-and-mortar shops. Messaging apps bring the best of two worlds together: the 1:1 chat enabels the individual and personal consultation that is intuitively known from being offered in offline stores, with the speed, comfort, and independence of digital communication.
With these advantages, messenger communication will develop as the main touchpoint in Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Digital Marketing and these two combined within the next 5 to 10 years. Communication channels like telephone, e-mail, and social media will fall into the shadows. Customers are ready – it’s on the businesses to properly use these new opportunities.
About Matthias Mehner, Chief Marketing Officer at MessengerPeople
After various experiences on the agency side of marketing, Matthias Mehner (40) spent five years as Head of Social Media Marketing at German media company ProSiebenSat. 1. In summer 2017 he moved to the Messenger Services specialists „MessengerPeople“ (previously WhatsBroadcast), where he focuses on Messenger and Chatbot use for businesses, institutions, and brands.
Matthias Mehner has been a presenter and Keynote Speaker at a variety of conferences about marketing, social media, and digital transformation. He is a lecturer at the Academy of German Media in Munich, as well as an author for the German digital marketing magazine “Lead Digital,” where he writes a weekly column about Messenger Marketing and Chatbots.
MessengerPeople is a pioneer in Messenger Services and the leading Software-as-a-Service provider for communication through messaging apps. The innovative platform allows companies to offer professional customer service and marketing over WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, and Insta. Over 1,400 companies, cities and communities, associations, institutions, political parties, and influencers in over 60 countries use the WhatsBroadcast solution. The successful Munich startup was founded in 2015 by Franz Buchenberger and Maximilian Tietz. As of August 2018, the Munich company is known as MessengerPeople and currently has 60 employees from 10 different countries.
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