It's as if the two main social media outlets that clients use to speak to brands were in cahoots. Two months ago, Twitter allowed users to send private messages to brands without following them. Two weeks ago, Facebook enticed brands to respond to all private messages as quickly as possible. That same day, Twitter announced that users could (finally) send private messages longer than 140 characters.
What are the implications of these announcements, and why are they doing more than simply accelerating the transformation of interactions between customers and brands via social media, which had already begun? Let's get some answers.
Shouting from the rooftops to getting answers
Up to now, social media has mostly been used for as a pastime. Who hasn't gotten carried away - exasperated - calling out a brand on Twitter, denouncing a defective product or scandalous treatment? These tweets may provide relief in the moment, but that's not all they're good for. If they don't fall through the cracks, tweets lead to private messages, then to email or a phone call - often times it's back to the basics. Being able to increase private and detailed interaction with brands as much on Twitter as on Facebook Messenger will no doubt change our habits. The most influential users can continue to shout from the rooftops (as their tweets resound in the community), but the vast majority of users will prefer speaking directly to the brand in a private message. Why? Because it's faster, and potentially just as efficient as going through conventional channels. Though certainly faster in the future, with the possibility for a brand to reimburse a customer directly through the application, send discount coupons or even transfer any kind of document via Messenger or Twitter. We would be entering into a more civilized world, where brands that meet client expectations will be more respected in return.
Expecting more from brands
In truth, brands have less and less of a choice when it comes to meeting their client's expectations, at least on social media, and there's a simple reason for that. It's no longer the brands that dictate the conditions of their customer service, but the social media platforms. You know the 10-pt font SLAs from Internet providers, or the bank or airline advertisements that boast 24/7 service and responses in under 30 minutes on social media. Today, Facebook presents a new kind of commitment: responding to over 90% of messages in under 5 minutes. This benchmark will determine the most effective brands, which will benefit from a visible mark of distinction at the top of their page.
Social media has made users demand more, expecting brands to respond faster (we'd say 30 minutes on Twitter, 60 on Facebook). With this new label, Facebook takes it even further. No longer satisfied with transforming usage on a global scale, it aims to set the norm. For brands, the stakes are extremely high: not only with regards to the satisfaction of their customers, but also, and perhaps more so, with regards to their image. Customer experience has become an essential aspect of branding. Brands are then forced to act on this new constraint, and perform the necessary adjustments, no matter the cost.
The customer at the heart of business, now more than ever
Let's recap. As far as the client's concerned, there are a few less public messages but many more private messages in the end, as it's easier and faster. As for the brand, it's genuinely important to quickly and effectively handle messages, an ever-increasing volume of which only complicating the task. The challenges that lie ahead for businesses are present on all fronts; for staff (who are unprepared), the processes (which is undefined), even the tools that will allow sense to be made of the flood of messages, to reduce the persistent noise and sort messages in order to guarantee optimal treatment.
This transformation, perhaps more endured than desired, will prove to be very beneficial to businesses that may not necessarily realize what these changes will lead them to accomplish. Being prepared to better satisfy and respond to customers, and quickly, also gives you the chance to get closer to them like never before seen in business-through their messaging applications, in the palm of their hands, among their friends. The challenge going forward is not so much to satisfy the customer's need at a given moment, but to create a longer-lasting and potentially deeper relationship with a customer-a customer who is eager to be satisfied from start to finish, now more than ever.