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Messengers: Reshaping Sales Support

By August 3, 2018 February 14th, 2019 No Comments
Messengers: Reshaping Sales Support

Messengers: Reshaping Sales Support

Change is more than in the ether, it is real and it is now: how we buy and sell has already seen a total transformation with the widespread adoption of messengers. People are impatient – they want quick and easy ways to engage with companies at a time and place of their choosing, not just during traditional business hours and messengers have filled that vacuum.  Effective sales support should occur throughout all stages of the sales process and messengers can be used at every one of those customer contact engagements. Not only does it make the process as efficient as possible, with AI, you’re assured that no customer falls through the cracks or disengages from the sales process through the sheer frustration of waiting for a response. 63% of consumers say that their messaging with companies has increased over the past 2 years and that number is expected to carry on growing. It’s pretty clear that when it comes to sales support, messengers are here for the long haul.

Let’s Break Down Today’s Sales Support

Sales support can generally be broken down into four main categories:

Lead Generation

  • Refers to finding potential customers and turning them into someone who has an interest in your product
  • Examples include online content, discount codes, giveaways
  • Usual end goal is to get contact information so you can begin to sell to them

Product Training

  • Making product materials readily available to your customers making it easier for them to decide if your product is right for them
  • Examples include product specification, size guides and manuals

Customer Service

  • An agent who can answer customer queries across all the stages of the sales process
  • A channel to provide product training to the customer
  • Able to correct any issues for the customer that occur
  • Can be done via a human or chatbot agent

Active Market Communications

  • Public outreach
  • Supports the sales team as the more the customers and potential customers know about your brand, the easier your brand is to sell
  • Done through paid advertising, PR press releases and marketing strategies etc.

Messengers for Lead Generation

I’m certain you will have gone onto a site and had a messenger pop up asking for your contact information. This can happen in a very straightforward manner – the messenger will ask for a phone number or email saying it’ll be used for a sales representative to get in contact or to keep you up to date with the latest information on the company. Although there will be people who respond to this and fill out their details (websites wouldn’t do it unless they got some responses to it), the vast majority of people aren’t going to opt in to having yet another company spamming their already overflowing inbox. Therefore, it can be assumed that a less direct approach is preferable, a positive ‘call to action’ in the initial approaches to the sales process.

Another, less direct way, your company can obtain someone’s information is to incentivize your potential client. It could be that someone needs to fill in their email address so that a discount code can be sent to them or you could do a giveaway which would require ways to contact the person if they were to win. Either way you do it, the person is opting in and therefore is engaging out of their own choice. They are active participants in connecting with your company, meaning you can sell to them without it seeming like an intrusion. A true quid pro quo!

What’s more, a messenger chatbot can store information, categorizing a person by what prompted them to provide their details, and use that to target marketing to them in the future, acting in effect as an effective and efficient CRM database.  For example, if a person filled in their information for a discount code, it would make sense to send them marketing updates whenever there’s a sale. Or if you were a snow sports equipment seller and someone signed up for a competition to win ski gear, you can assume they like skiing and would know to send them updates on new ski products in future. It is the relevance of your client contact that is going to give the customer a positive or negative perception of your company and is an essential part of building a trusted brand, for whom the customer is key.

A bot within a messenger can be linked with your Contacts Manager meaning they can create those links without you trawling through your database ad infinitum. Who receives what emails can be completely automated, and by increasing the likelihood that what people are receiving has some relevance to them, it makes it more likely that they will continue to open your emails and continue their engagement with your company in the future.

Messenger for Product Training

Messenger chatbots can be programmed to provide answers instantly to the most commonly asked queries. The most generic questions people ask, such as ‘What size should I buy?’ or ‘What’s the warranty on this product?’ are so easy to answer and yet if not automated, take up so much of the time of human customer service agents, who should ideally only be responding to the complex, nuanced questions. Often, if a person can’t get the answers to these questions quickly, they’ll give up and look for alternatives from your competitors, so it really is vital that your company has procedures to make this information easily accessible.

After all, no customer is going to appreciate spending ages on hold with a customer service rep or having to wait for days to get a response to their email. They’ll become either less inclined to make a purchase or annoyed about the process and therefore less disposed to repurchase. Messengers really are the best option.

Customer Service

If a customer likes you and continues to like you, they will do business with you. If they don’t, they won’t.’ – Paul Greenberg

Expectations regarding customer service are continuing to rise. A survey showed that 66% of consumers who switched brands did so because of poor service, which is completely avoidable. People (quite rightly) expect a lot from their money and especially if something goes wrong, they want it to be righted quickly and efficiently. We are living in an age when many of us consider ourselves to be consumer rich but time poor, thus messengers that enable that fast response is key to a positive customer service experience, explaining the upwards trend of US online consumers who say that they like having a chat invitation appear to help during transactions – currently 44% up from 33% in 2012 and 27% in 2009.

People can go on a company Facebook page and send a message quickly and easily, and as Facebook Messenger is a familiar platform for most people and enables people to maintain a distance from the interaction, it is often considered lower effort than to contact a company by other mediums such as by phone. The vast majority of people use the platform, and users make up pretty much every target demographic or market that you can think of making it a great messenger option for pretty much any company of any size.

Supporting the Sales Process

Messengers are an effective way to upsell and cross-sell. Once someone adds something to their basket a chatbot messenger can pop up, suggesting a product that would go with the product in the basket. For example, on a cosmetics website, if a customer had a lipstick in their basket, the bot could suggest that they also buy the matching lip liner. Then, the bot could go on to cross-sell – it could suggest a hairspray to finish off your overall look or other products that customers who bought the lipstick also bought. When it comes to checking out their basket, a customer could be buying three times as much as they would have otherwise.

This is not only good from a short-term, monetary point of view – if a consumer comes away from a shopping experience feeling that their needs were fully met and that they were able to buy lots of things on the site, then they’re far more likely to feel positive about the experience and make subsequent repeat purchases. There’s nothing worse than spending ages browsing a site and not finding anything that you want, it’s frustrating and the idea that they don’t sell what you need sticks in your head. People want to be sold to; the ‘buyer’s rush’ isn’t just anecdotal. You need your customer to see that you not only have what they want but what they didn’t even know that they wanted because you are considering your client as an individual, tailoring the experience to their particularized needs and a messenger bot can show your customer that.

Cart abandonment is 79.6% on average which is insanely high! A bot reminding you to check out as you go to leave the site is a great call to action prompt, giving someone far more of an immediate push to complete the transaction, rather than receiving an email that they statistically won’t open the next day. I know that I’m definitely guilty of spending ages adding things to my basket on one site and then going to other sites to see if I can find anything better and just forgetting about the first site completely. If a message was to pop up creating urgency, for example saying that one of the items I wanted was selling out fast, I would be far more likely to buy straight away. Misguided, a successful women’s online clothing shop, is a great example of this; as soon as you click on any item of clothing, notification bots pop up saying either that many people are viewing that item, or many people have bought it over the last few hours, or of course most effectively, ‘Hurry! This is selling out fast!’.  It’s very simple psychology, if people think they may not be able to have something, then they want it, and messengers can easily play upon that driving up your sales and customer satisfaction that their time has been spent wisely as they completed their self-allotted task

Market Communications – Messenger as a Better Alternative to Email?

“Email is dead”  – Mark Zuckerberg

When deliberating between the success of Messenger verses that of email, the stats speak for themselves.  Messenger has an average of 88% open rates and 56% clickthrough, all of which is pretty much instantaneous. In contrast, the open rate for email is a meager 25%, with only 4.2% clickthrough and that is generally over a couple of days. I’m sure everyone has experienced going into their email to face the inundation of marketing emails. More often than not, you’ll have received so many that you wouldn’t even have the time to open them even if you wanted to!

The content of a messenger is usually only one-line long. It’s normal to be more informal and straight to the point via this medium, allowing customers to absorb your message at a glance. In contrast, reading an email requires a level of effort. You have to scroll down through the photos and the various bits of information. There isn’t that instant lightbulb moment which a messenger gives you.

People are being constantly bombarded with information, and unless your message is succinct and easy to understand, they’re just going to move onto the next thing. Messenger is arguably a more active form of communication than email.  An email is passive, you can ignore it. Whereas a messenger is in your line of vision and the movement of it popping up will inevitably catch your eye – you can’t escape seeing it.

That being said, email should still have a place within your marketing strategy.  As mentioned before, the information obtained via messengers can be used to target communications towards a specific customer, and that holds a lot of validity.  If a person has an interest in a particular type of product, then the longer length and larger amounts of information found within an email may be something that they want to read and which may prompt them to buy your product.

The Verdict

All companies should be using messengers and if yours currently isn’t then you need to change that. To be able to instantly gratify a customer’s information needs, no matter what the time of day, should be an essential part of the sales support and customer service experience. Consumers expect to be able to engage quickly and easily with a company and if they can’t then it’s most likely that they’ll look elsewhere. Messengers are arguably the best way to connect across every stage of the sales cycle and really need to be taken advantage of. So to build a trusted brand and drive your revenues forward, choose messenger, and obliterate customer frustration.

Gerardo Salandra

Gerardo Salandra

Gerardo Salandra is the CEO of Rocketbots (www.rocketbots.io). An IBM & Google veteran, with deep expertise in growth hacking, machine learning, and chatbots. Chairman of the AI Society of Hong Kong, promoting the development and understanding of AI technologies in the Region.

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