The Relationship Revolution continues to move at the speed of light and like it or not, the relationship between customers and companies is forever changed. Through the power of socially and very public apps, customers now hold the power, choosing when, where and how they interact with brands Consumers expect to engage, inquire, and request service whenever, wherever, and via whatever channel suits their fancy. But addressing this paradigm shift in a positive way that delivers consistent company-customer interactions across channels and throughout every engagement is something that has an impact across the entire enterprise.
With the recent announcement of Facebook’s $19 billion dollar intent to acquire mobile messaging app WhatsApp comes a new and compelling opportunity for companies to address this relationship shift.
For those that still don’t know, even though there are nearly a half a billion of you who do, WhatsApp is a cross-platform mobile messaging app, which allows users to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. The first question that may come to mind is: “How is WhatsApp different than SMS?” In the United States there are very few differences or advantages, other than free international messaging, as many wireless carriers bundle messaging into data plans. However, in countries such as Brazil, India, Russia and Spain, SMS is expensive and the masses have flocked to WhatsApp as an affordable and more feature-rich option for mobile messaging.
What makes it a compelling opportunity? Here are a few reasons:
- Conversations are personal and private so any particularly salty customer complaint will not be out there for the rest of the world to see.
- Users are always on. Most WhatsApp users have push notifications turned on meaning they’ll see messages and be more engaged in company interactions
- WhatsApp’s broadcast lists make marketing to your customers’ friends who share similar passions simple and making service offers easier to share… provided they passes the spam sniff test.
The opportunity to use WhatsApp for customer service may not be immediate but that is exactly why now is the time to think about the impact mobile apps like this have on the customer experience.
Adding a service channel that consumers use and trust makes sense to increase engagement and provide service on the terms of your customers. But if that channel is not fully integrated with access to customer data, reporting resources and the expertise of the contact center, it will hardly deliver an optimal experience. By applying contact center best practices to mobile customer engagements could occur on WhatsApp, organizations can realize better value from the channel at a lower cost, without sacrificing the disciplines and service levels that are making the contact center the de facto center of the customer experience.
If for nothing else, it could be argued that the sole reason to think about what WhatsApp means for customer service is that with a reported 450 million active users WhatsApp has almost double Twitter’s 230 million active users. And, in the age of the “persistent conversation,” contact centers can’t afford to miss opportunities to connect with millions of customers.
Additional great examples of why now is the time to consider WhatsApp for customer service can be found in The Guardian’s WhatsApp: best for customer service?.
Related story: Nordstrom Focuses on Mobile Customer Experience Retail Info Systems News
Latest posts by Jim Freeze, SVP, CMO (see all)
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