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How Messaging Redefines Customer Support in this Era of Conversational Commerce

4th Mar 2016
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Just over a year ago, Uber's Chris Messina coined the term conversational commerce. The impetus for the lexicon addition was Uber's integration into Facebook Messenger. And though it's been interpreted a few ways, the basic gist of conversational commerce is that consumers want to be able to purchase goods and services directly from chat & messenger channels. If 2016 is the year of conversational commerce, then surely it must also be the year of conversational customer support, right?

The explosion of messaging services is undeniable. Facebook Messenger has over 800 millions users and WhatsApp has over 1 billion users. For teenagers and young adults, it's safe to say messaging is the preferred communication channel over phone and email.

Companies have been relatively quick to adapt to mobile adoption. Youth oriented brands have created mobile optimized sites and branded apps. Some newer e-commerce companies like Wish, which claims to have hundreds of millions of users, are mobile-first (and sometimes, mobile-only). 

So the question remains: Why haven't companies been as quick to adapt to messaging? And more particularly, how come they haven't adopted mobile messaging as part of their customer support?

Let's dispel a few myths: 

Companies think the number of customer service inquiries will increase. While that's true, messaging is actually more efficient on a per agent basis, so you'll be able to help more customers with the same number of agents.

Companies think they might lose customer information with multi-channel support. But messaging services, including the one offered by my company SnapSolv, offer a multi-channel full customer profile, so the same conversation thread can be accessed if the customer switches from mobile app to web. Customer service agents won't lose context or history.

Companies think customers won't download their app. Customers absolutely will download a company's branded app, provided the company utilizes the app to promote discounts, new products, etc. If the app has value, then customers will want it on their phone and use it for support. 

Conversational commerce is here. It's not suprising that Facebook Messenger will soon be incorporating ads into its platform. But conversational customer support needs to happen too. A loyal customer is 5x cheaper to retain than trying to find a new customer. And what better way to delight a customer than providing support how they want (messaging) and where they want (via mobile)? 

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