For some time now, social media has played a dominant role in the evolution of customer service. From millennials to baby boomers and simply any customer needing support on the go, social media has proven an efficient and appealing way to engage with brands. Recently, however, a dramatic shift has occurred in the way customers use social. According to a recent Business Insider report, messaging apps have surpassed social media networks in terms of monthly active users, marking a shift to what is known as dark social channels that include messaging apps, email, and private browsing. The Economist confirmed that over 2.5 billion people worldwide have at least one messaging app installed. And just how has this shift affected social sharing? As a RadiumOne study found, nearly 70% of all online referrals come from dark social channels. This growing trend is further converging with the growing demand for mobile customer engagement, essentially changing how social media is used in customer experience.
Many brands have given customers the choice to interact one-on-one with them through popular messaging apps. Facebook Messenger, Kik, WeChat, and Viber are just a few apps currently hosting brands that have integrated messaging into their customer service. Cosmetics retailer Sephora, for example, offers customers comprehensive assistance with searching the product catalogue, getting personalized recommendations, and making purchases all within the app. Many of these brands, including Sephora, are also relying on chat bots to deliver even more efficient and sophisticated searches and personalized assistance, often backed by human support when needed. Other industries are also following this example, from airlines such as KLM giving customers detailed flight information and boarding passes through Facebook Messenger, to restaurant chains such as Taco Bell making food orders quick and easy through chat bots integrated into the messaging platform Slack. As customers engage with brands through messaging apps, stronger relationships are formed and service becomes more seamless and personalized than ever.
Just as brands are making it easier for customers to engage in one-stop product research and shopping, marketing strategies are also shifting. At the moment, messaging apps are not featuring ads, and brands that do engage with customers through such platforms typically ask customers to opt-in for any notifications. However, many brands are finding creative ways to reach customers in a way that’s satisfying to all parties involved. Apps such as WeChat allow customers to buy brand stickers that may be sent in chats to personal contacts. Snapchat, an especially popular platform among millennials, has proven instrumental to launching marketing campaigns that convert to brand website clicks and, ultimately, purchases. Fashion brands from Asos to Valentino have successfully used the platform to give customers a closer look at their products, with Asos in particular offering discount codes to its young customer base. Other brands as diverse as Gatorade and the candy company Sour Patch Kids have implemented contests for greater customer engagement, brand awareness, and sales.Social media will continue to shape the customer experiences of the future, but messaging apps are sure to redefine the path taken. As a global leader in cloud-based contact center software solutions for customer service and sales, Vocalcom chose to integrate Facebook Messenger, Telegram, WeChat, Viber, Kik, and conversational SMS into its cloud contact center platform to evolve into a premium conversational commerce platform for the future of great customer experience.
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