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Don’t Treat Facebook Messenger Like Just Another Channel

Faster than email, more personal than voice, chat has its own way of working.

Conversations must be real and personal

While chatbots are going to automate a lot of interactions, they are far from perfect. Real people are going to need to be involved to answer tough questions and give a (real) human touch to conversations. Just like the ever-annoying automated phone systems, sometimes you want to speak to a person and you need to make sure customers can do that easily.

Adding value through customer relationships

The most exciting part of chat and chatbots is the potential to build deeper and stronger customer relationships. Chat is perceived as more personal and connected than email or even the phone. With chat connected to larger customer datasets, representatives can offer real insight to customers and foster connections. For times when a chatbot (even if customers think they are talking with a person) can handle the job (“I’d like to update my contact information” “I need to pay my bill”) the quick and easy interaction through chat will build stronger relationships. Remember those times you had a great customer experience with a company? What set it apart from others? Chances are it was one or more of these things: fast, saved you money, easy to get the task done, friendly.

Is Facebook the best bet?

Here’s the big question: is Facebook Messenger the best bet for chat in your company? Outside of email or SMS, Facebook Messenger might be the one of the closest things to a universal chat app. There are over a billion active users of Facebook Messenger, so starting your B2C or B2B chat experiment with Facebook is a smart bet if your customer base is in North America, Australia, and Scandinavia. WhatsApp (owned by Facebook) is the number one chat app for most of the world, and WeChat is the leading chat app in China with its own tremendous ecosystem of apps and technologies. There are other OTT (Over-the-Top) chat apps like Line (Japan) and Viber (mostly Europe, but also parts of the Middle East) that are important players in the space.

Chat is the next wave, but make sure you treat it like its own thing

Online chat, whether it’s Facebook Messenger, WeChat, WhatsApp, Viber or even Slack, is a growing space for B2C and B2B communications. 2016 started the “oh this is interesting” phase and 2017 will be the “let’s take this seriously” phase for businesses. For all the caveats above, chat is here and not fading out as a tool for business. This is the right time to look at how you can improve your customer communications with chat and how to integrate chat into your larger communications strategies.

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