Conversocial CEO predicts customer service shift from phones to private messaging applications

Conversocial
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We tend to think of social media services as public forums where everything we say or do is visible, but the CEO of Conversocial predicts a rise in the use of private messaging functions will soon change the way businesses solve some of the most sensitive customer service challenges they face today.

Conversocial, which has offices in New York and London, offers a customer service software that allows companies to organize and route questions or complaints across social media platforms. A customer might ask something publicly on Twitter, for instance, which then gets routed to an agent who responds via private message. The dialogue is treated as a single “thread” by the company, which allows the original agent to stay involved, or routed to someone with specialized skills.

Late last year, Conversocial and its customers were among the first to gain access to the beta of Facebook’s Messenger Chat, which allows companies to address customer service issues through a chat window on their web site as well as through Facebook’s popular messaging app. According to March, it’s not only an example of where the technology is heading but the more natural way that customers want to communicate.

“A lot of people love chat — it’s cheaper than phone calls — but there have been lots of issues,” he told B2B News Network. “The company doesn’t know who the customer is, and then they disappear after the chat so you’re starting from scratch afterwards if they come back. That doesn’t work as well in the mobile world, but (Facebook) Messenger solves all of those pain points. The conversation persists but moves seamlessly across social and the Web.”

March will soon publish his first book, Message Me, which explores how social media will continue to change the nature of customer service.

“My key vision is that over the next few years, customer service is going to move from being largely still on the telephone today — we see 60-70 per cent of cases happening over the phone — and will flip to asynchronous messaging,” he said. “It’s much, much easier to apply automation to the messaging channel than any other service channel.”

After all, a lot of customer service teams in call centres are working off scripts and templated information, March pointed out. Yet focusing on phone calls inevitably means looking at call times versus actually solving customers’ problems. Messaging can allow brands to have a “full” conversation using apps customers are likely using anyway, he added.

“The nice thing about private messaging, as opposed to public social, is it’s all very uniform,” he said. “When you look at Facebook Messenger, the general way it works and the and the form factor is basically identical to WeChat, WhatsApp and so on.”

Depending on the nature of the organization, March said Conversocial tends to work with the head of digital or chief customer officer. The metrics also tend to be consistent, whether it’s basic customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores or Net Promoter Score (NPS).

“It’s really just about an executive having the motivation to make it happen — to promote it out to their customers,” March said, adding that besides it technology, companies need to start hiring staff with good writing skills and a comfort level with various social technologies. “Managing asynchronous messaging is a reasonably unique challenge, and you can’t expect that a traditional web chat system can do that well.”

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Shane Schick

Shane Schick

Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.