2017: Social Media are transcending their purely social role and chatbots are creating unprecedented opportunities for brands. A reexamination of the round table discussion between The Social Client, The PMU and Direct Energie held during the last HUBDAY of 2016: The Future of Social Media.
“When we founded the agency in 2010, we were convinced Social Networks would open up decisive opportunities for Customer Relations… and indeed we’re realizing that social media has now and for a long time exceeded its purely social vocation.” With this opening statement, Vanessa Boudin-Lestienne, Founder and Associate of The Social Client, launches her roundtable discussion with Chloé Beauvallet, Director of Services and Customer Care and Head of Insight and Data Tracking for PMU and Matthieu Tanguy, Chief Marketing and Digital Officer for Direct Energie: Three different feedbacks on the new kinds of customer relationships made possible by Social Networks and Messenger.
The number of web users who rely on social media to contact brands is growing steadily. “Messenger accounted for 16% of contact flows in 2015, three times more than in 2013. Facebook’s messaging service is undeniably becoming generation Y’s favorite channel, underscoring this generation’s especially keen appetite for innovations and addiction to digital technology 24/7.” comments Vanessa Boudin-Lestienne.
Confronted with this relational challenge, brands must reconsider their relationship with Social Networks and rework their internal organization in order to fully exploit the potential of Social Networks.
Chloé Beauvallet exposes how the PMU has had to adapt and reorganize its Customer Relationship and how these new exchange channels are different from traditional ones. It is no longer a single unit of interactions relating to a punctual topic, but an extended conversation between a brand and its customer. Social networks simulate a proximity and complicity that are comparable with what can exist with a newsagent. This new conversational format, both transparent and immediate, allows the brand to better perceive and understand its client.
By making itself available on all channels, the PMU intended to give customers the freedom to choose a preferred communication channel depending on age or profile. “Our objective was to build a social relational ecosystem, but beyond that, to work the whole spectrum of user behaviors and exchanges so that they might enrich one another mutually and infuse the content that we push. As a result we progressed from 40 000 single visitors 4 years ago, to nearly a million in 2007.” explains Chloé Beauvallet.
Apace with the closer ties that Social Networks build between brand and customers, an internal merging has to occur within the company itself, and even extend beyond. “We cannot continue to think that the marketing department is solely responsible for pushing content, that Customer Relations are responsible for handling Customers, that communications’ exclusive responsibilities are corporate. It doesn’t work.” stresses Chloé Beauvallet.
Within the context of the Big Ticket Campaign, in partnership with the NBA, the PMU called upon external specialists whose expertise and informed prognostics on the games brought warmth and energy to the interactions and boosted customer engagement. In light of these results, a brand must no longer hesitate to seek out organic audiences outside its own ecosystem in order to vitalize and enliven it. The customer expects to be able to access all of the brand’s different departments, as well as consult a range of external influences and opinions.
As more and more channels are making brands available to customers everywhere and at all times, instant messaging, and Messenger in particular, offer a simple if not the simplest solution.
“Messaging has supplanted vocal exchanges. In 10 years, the number of text messages have multiplied by 10 whereas time spent over the phone has barely doubled. By 2014, instant messages had exceeded text messages. Consequently, as a brand we had no other option than to adapt and speak to our clients through this media.” explains Matthieu Tanguy.
In 2016 Messenger became THE unrivaled [western] conversational digital media, and the one that adapts best to Customer Relations. “Native mobile”, Messenger can historicize all contacts and remarkably handles synchronous and a-synchronous messaging thus smoothing the activity of advisors during sharp peaks in traffic, and reducing if not removing a customer’s waiting time.
In 2016, Messenger launched its bot platform, the number of which has reached 33K in 8 months’ time. After Pizza Hut, voyages-sncf and KLM… Direct Energie is now about to deploy its first Messenger chatbot in January 2017. “The chatbot is an ‘enabler’, capable of making the experience of Messenger even more fluid, pleasant and efficient”, observes Matthieu Tanguy .
Contract subscription is a defining Customer Relationship moment, where the loss of a document or an endless wait over the phone typically deters a prospective customer.
“We therefore decided on having everything converge onto the Messenger channel: sending the customer the follow-up to his subscription to Messenger, then entering a logical cycle of push-pulling informative content throughout the follow-up, activation of his account, sponsorship options, satisfaction inquiries… with the constant possibility for the customer to contact an advisor at any given moment, which makes all the difference », underlines Matthieu Tanguy.
If 2016 witnessed the rise of Messenger chatbots, thereby motivating brands to automatize a part of their services, 2017 will consolidate the collaboration of humans and machines: “Brands have every reason to combine the ease that chatbots bring to the first level of services with the expertise and emotion that human advisors can extend to services of higher added-value.” stresses Vanessa Boudin-Lestienne.
“Facebook, highlights Vanessa Boudin-Lestienne, is more or less a giant CRM through which you can connect to your loved ones, but also to brands who become a part of your life, as consumers, and with whom you can recover the familiar relationship that you had with your neighborhood vendors. And with the staggering progress of Artificial Intelligence, brands will be able to improve, personalize if not completely redesign the relationship around the client’s specific needs: we’re entering the age of a highly contextualized customer relations where brands have an opportunity to be effectively proactive.” concludes Vanessa Boudin-Lestienne.
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