Customer service: Messengers beat social media

After the phone and e-mail, this channel is growing increasingly popular – but there are some elements to keep in mind

Customer service: Messengers beat social media

WhatsApp remains the leading messaging service in Germany. In a representative survey with YouGov, the MessengerPeople company polled more than 2,000 Germans about their messenger usage. The results reveal the great potential of WhatsApp and apps like it in the field of customer service. Customer service via Messenger is more than three times more popular than via social media, and twice as popular as customer service via live chat on a website. For brands and companies that want to use the messenger for customer communication, however, the legal side is important, too.

WhatsApp: attention and underestimated viral characteristics

Germans pay almost unlimited attention to messages they receive via WhatsApp. Nearly half of those polled have WhatsApp notifications displayed on their lock screens. Only one respondent in ten allows companies to send push notifications. “It’s becoming clear that companies should think twice about devoting the effort and expense for an app of their own,” according to Matthias Mehner, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at MessengerPeople.

The survey found that 62 percent of respondents share funny or interesting content via WhatsApp, while only just under one-third select Facebook as their channel. Ranking far behind these are other social media channels, such as Twitter and Snapchat, with just five percent of respondents identifying each as their channel.

Telephone and e-mail still relevant

Only obliquely shining through the study is that, where customer dialog is concerned, the messenger is still not Number 1. The telephone and e-mail thus still lead the way when it comes to customer service. Customers prefer chatting via messenger over the online live chat or social media. Respondents primarily prefer the messenger for making appointments, and for receiving information as well as claims and complaints.

For respondents, no time spent waiting on hold on the telephone, freedom from minutes of talk time and the option of different formats – such as text, image and video – are all assets. The values ​​added to the study based on respondents’ own experiences are impressive at first glance: 95% open rate for all messages within the first 15 minutes, click-through rate 32%, unsubscribe rate of 0.1%.

Observing the legal hurdles

There are several legal hurdles to dialogues with customers that must be clarified prior to use. The MessengerPeople company has taken this into account; it answers some of the most important questions on its homepage. A good overview of the entire topic can be found at the Deutsche Handwerkszeitung in this article.

For companies that want to use the messenger for internal communication, things can get complicated. In this case, as shown, for instance in an overview drawn up by Triumph-Adler in May of this year, things don’t really look very good any more. Because WhatsApp cannot compete in many respects, it is not recommended.

The bottom line

Handling marketing or customer service in a messenger may be very attractive, given the tremendous reach and consumer acceptance of messengers, with WhatsApp most prominent among these. Nevertheless, it is wise to fine-tune internal processes very carefully. In many cases, however, they can’t compete with the complexity of a telephone conversation or e-mail handling. Reason enough, then, to review and compare all channels for their suitability in terms of benefits to consumers and the company. Compliance at the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is also an important point that should be clarified thoroughly in advance.