Customer Service via Social Messaging: Challenges, Best practices and Opportunities

Increasingly, businesses are turning towards measures that enhance the customer experience (CX) as a method for differentiating their products and services amidst fierce competition. An important tool your business can use to level up CX is adopting an omnichannel approach and investing in holistic and fast customer service that makes use of multiple channels.

Pre-sales and after-sales support is a brilliant way to encourage customer loyalty and increase satisfaction. However, the question many business owners have is which customer service channel to use?

According to Kayako, 41% of consumers prefer live chat & messaging as their primary support channel — 32% state they prefer phone service. A large proportion of consumers — particularly younger, tech-savvy millennials — are demanding messaging services as customer support.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to develop and implement live chat systems, and it’s even harder to get customers to use them.

That’s where social media messaging channels such as WhatsApp Business, Facebook Business Messenger, or Direct Mail on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter come in. It installs a customer support channel on the platforms consumers already use.

In this article, we’ll explore why it’s important to offer business customer service via these social messaging channels and offer you some best tips and practices for ensuring success when implementing live messaging services in your customer service workflow.

Why use Messaging Channels for Customer Service?

In the last decade, organizations in their droves have embraced an omnichannel strategy and diversified their customer service channel offerings.

Not too long ago, customer service hotlines were the default way customers would be able to get in touch to receive support. Why has this approach fallen out of favor?

Traditional support channels are slow and inefficient. Customers would often be stuck with long waiting times on hold. This removed an important avenue of support — the mid-purchase, pre-sales support.

According to Forbes, 50% of customers say that having a chat agent answer their query in the middle of purchase is an important feature that a business can offer. It helps clear up any queries — ultimately reducing cart abandonment and increasing conversion rates.

Instead, businesses have enthusiastically adopted live chat and messaging systems. How enthusiastically? According to Freshworks, 81% of online businesses have increased their investment in live chat & messaging.

Social messaging makes it more convenient for customers to contact them and receive support. It gives the ‘best of both worlds’ of live chat — where customers’ queries can be dealt with in seconds — and social media support — interacting with customers on platforms they’re already using.

This makes a massive impact on revenue and the customer experience. This channel of business customer support also unlocks great cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. The Aberdeen Group found that live chat and messaging results in a 2.4x greater annual increase in cross-selling and up-sell revenue.

Social Messaging Customer Service in Numbers

First, let’s quantify the problems messaging channels aim to solve. Forrester found that 53% of customers may abandon their carts if they can’t find answers to their questions quickly. Furthermore, Khoros found that 83% of customers feel more loyal to brands that respond to and resolve their complaints.

It is therefore clear that using social messaging channels is key to fostering revenue growth and improving CX. Live chat has a conversion rate of 40% — and leads to a 48% increase in revenue per chat hour. The reason social messaging is selected over live chat is clear — 45% of the world’s population uses social media.

The ICMI estimate that messaging channels reward businesses with a 105% ROI. BrandWatch found that handling customer service requests through social messaging channels is up to 12X cheaper than phone support. Furthermore, responding to a complaint through social media can increase customer advocacy by as much as 25%.

It is therefore clear that social media messaging is a brilliant channel for customer support. This has therefore led to massive growth — with Forrester predicting that digital customer service reactions will increase by 40% in the next year.

But, is social media messaging for CS sustainable?

Challenges Of Qualitative CS in Social Messaging Channels

As with any CS channel, social messaging comes with a whole host of challenges limiting the success of its implementation. Let’s explore some of the major issues here:

1) Social Messaging is More Intensive

Due to the personal nature of social media conversations, social messaging is more intensive. Interacting with customers on social media requires more effort and time for agents to read back messages and respond to customers than dedicated live chat. Why?

People primarily use social media messaging channels to talk with friends & family — with services like WhatsApp and Instagram DMs becoming the main way many people talk to their loved ones.

Thus, consumers are used to talking on these platforms and are likely to express their service questions in a way they talk to a friend. This type of communication presents two problems:

  1. It takes more time to process longer queries.
  2. Customers expect a response in a similar tone to their message — and so it will take an agent a long time to compose a friendly, personal response.

Both of these issues lead to increased strain on CS agents.

A typical WhatsApp service Question to a utility company: long, personal, and therefore difficult for a chatbot to understand

2) Challenges with Social Messaging Automation

It is also difficult to automate a social messaging customer support service. The personal way that people communicate on social messaging channels makes it harder for chatbots to understand queries.

It is much easier for a chatbot to read short questions like “pass meter readings moving” than parsing and understanding long messages. The difficulty of automation also relies on the ease of integration of the platform.

We’ll admit that it is getting better. For instance, Facebook now allows automated responses natively in Messenger and Instagram DM — and many social media platforms now allow integration with chatbot automation tools. Unfortunately, there’s still a long way to go.

The difficulty to automate means more man-hours spent dealing with customer queries. This will undoubtedly lead to higher costs and may affect your response time.

3) Data Privacy & Security Challenges

We’ll concede that social media platforms have made great strides for data privacy and data security in the last few years. For instance, many platforms now use encrypted messaging and pledge not to process and read DMs.

For many businesses, customer verification remains particularly challenging, however. Often, businesses will need to ask customers their birth date, or the last 3 digits of their bank account or account number to check who they are.

However, customers are increasingly apprehensive about sending sensitive & personal information over social media DMs — and for good reason.

If their social media accounts are hacked and compromised — or if your phone gets stolen — attackers could search through customer support chatlogs to find any data they could use for fraud.

Social media account hacking is all too frequent. According to Norton, 14% of people have previously dealt with unauthorized activity on their social media accounts. Sometimes, people can go months without realizing someone else has access to their account.

Luckily, social media channels are offering tighter, more secure integrations with CRM suites. This aims to make it easier to verify a customer without asking them to send personal & sensitive information.

Social Messaging CS Best Practices

Want some tips on how best to implement social messaging for customer support? Here are some of our recommendations:

  1. Provide short, but personal responses.
  2. Be quick. Slow response times are a major issue in social messaging — with 80% of customers demanding a response on the same day, and 50% looking for a response within 2 hours.
  3. If this speed isn’t possible, at least provide an automated estimated response time to avoid frustration.
  4. Consider partly or hybrid automation. For instance, both an agent and a chatbot can work together to obtain details to cancel a booking.
  5. Make use of quick reply buttons to make the customer service experience smoother.
  6. If using a chatbot, it should be as easy as possible to immediately escalate to a human agent. A great to do this is using quick reply buttons for “Connect with an Agent”.
  7. Take data security seriously. You must develop a strategy that validates the identity of your customer in a private & secure way. It’s also vital you handle that personal information carefully in accordance with your governing data protection laws.

The Future of CS using Social Channels

What’s next for social media customer service? Here are some of our predictions:

Channel-Type Centralization: As a way of decreasing overhead and providing a more seamless CS experience, we expect organizations to adopt a centralized CS channel based on messaging and live chat. Increasingly, organizations are abandoning slow channels like email and phone. We expect the adoption of messaging through platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to continue and ultimately eclipse all other CS channels.

We expect that organizations will first signpost phone customers to messaging platforms. For instance, when a customer calls a helpline that’s particularly, the call system could prompt the customer to message on WhatsApp. European utility company Vattenfall reduced its phone volume by up to 40% using this method.

Customers will demand speed and agility with their messaging support. They’re looking for decreased response times and want their queries solved near instantaneously. Businesses will need to increase their CS capacity or improve automation to meet this demand.

Social media messaging will continue to support richer conversations. Currently, customers can share documents, files, and web links using messaging platforms like WhatsApp. We expect these integrations to become easier than ever in the future.

Customers will demand and appreciate highly personalized customer service experiences. Businesses will need to, more than over, know their customers and how they interact with their organization.

Solutions for verifying identity will improve significantly in the coming years.

Use Reassign.ai to automate your social messaging

Using Reassign, businesses are finally able the automate the responses to long messages. Our Conversational AI module understands the situations and intents from a long customer query.

A smart chatbot will be able to assist customers seamlessly — improving your response times and getting customer problems solved within minutes.

Reassign provides a no-code conversational AI platform that allows anyone to build engaging service messaging dialogues in minutes. Want to get started? Head over to reassign.ai to sign up for early access!

Automate difficult service inquires with Reassign’s No-Code conversational AI platform

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