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Episode Info: When Joshua March built an app for the new Facebook Application Platform in 2007, “social customer service was not a phrase,” he says. But March, now CEO & Co-Founder of Conversocial, saw an early opportunity. “I thought this was a really exciting opportunity for brands to engage with customers in a way they never had before.” Conversocial, a digital customer care platform, aims at “bridging the gap between the rapidly shifting worlds of social media and… the discipline of a large-scale customer service platform,” according to March. As someone who lives and breathes social customer service every day, March prides himself on being an early adopter of new technology. And while many companies are just starting to pay attention to messaging apps, March has been working for months with brands like Hyatt, Sprint, and Alaska Air to pilot customer service for Facebook Messenger. He calls messaging apps “the future of customer service... they’re really exciting in lots of ways.” Advantages of Messaging Apps for Brands March cites two big advantages that messaging apps bring to brands that “traditional” social media channels do not: 1) Private vs. Public: “One of the big hesitations that a lot of companies have had in promoting social as a primary customer service channel has been the very public aspect of it… The great thing about [messaging apps] is that you can have a ‘Message Us’ button and really promote this as a one-on-one, private channel.” 2) Persistency: “Messaging is a persistent conversation between you and a brand. You can have a real-time chat with an agent, then you can go away and come back a day later and see the history… That’s really exciting because that starts to have an impact on consumer behavior.” In their beta testing with Conversocial, Sprint saw a decrease in public complaints on Facebook as messages on Messenger increased. As a result, Sprint now lists its social customer care options – including the “Message Us” button – above the phone number on its website. March is expecting 50+ more clients to launch live chat via Messenger this year and “thousands” overall. Are the Bots Really Going to Take Over? March also had a lot to say about Facebook’s recent introduction of the “Bots for Messenger” Platform. He says that bots will be useful for certain types of transactions and “can help contact centers become more efficient by making things easier for agents.” But, he cautions, “we are not at the stage yet where you could have a really comprehensive chat bot for customer service.” One challenge that bots will face, he says, is that messaging is already less expensive and a better customer experience than on the phone, so moving to a bot runs the risk of worsening that experience and creating additional phone calls. “A lot of people turn to social because they’re fed up with the ‘computer says no’ attitude or big, complex IVRs [Interactive Voice...
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