5 tips to delight customers with instant messaging
Messaging is gaining momentum as a quick and easy way for customers to connect with businesses. From Facebook Messenger and Google Business Messages (GBM), to WhatsApp and SMS, there are platforms aplenty for instant messaging. And it’s up to you to ensure that your team and your systems are up to the task of delivering a great experience.
No matter which platforms you’re using, your goal is to leave your customers smiling (or, at least, not frowning) at the end of every interaction. Here are some key things to keep in mind.
1. You need to respond fast. Really fast.
It’s called ‘instant messaging’ for a reason. Customers expect a swift response – much faster than traditional channels like phone and email. If you don’t deliver, you’ll risk losing their business.
So, what’s fast? Let’s use Meta’s ‘Very responsive to messages’ badge as a guide (which, for the uninitiated, is a badge that automatically appears on your page if you’re a fast responder). To earn this badge, you need a response rate of 90% or higher and a response time under 15 minutes. That’s pretty fast.
Fortunately, most customers give you a little more breathing space. Only 13% of customers on social media expect a response within one hour, with 44% expecting you to respond anywhere from one to 12 hours later.
But don’t wait too long. With Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, you’ve got 24 hours to reply to the most recently received message. After that, you can’t send a message to the customer on that channel. Google gives you much longer to continue the conversation – up to 28 days. But you’ll still want to respond fast, because they can suspend your chat service for too many missed or slow replies.
TOP TIP: Turn on notifications, so you always know if a new message comes in and you can shoot back a response, even if it’s just, “Thanks for your message. We’ll get back to you on Monday.”
2. Polish your profile and welcome message
First impressions count. So make sure your business profile is professional, warm and welcoming. It should be true to your brand, speak directly to your customers’ needs, and include all the helpful information you’d expect from a business (like, opening hours, locations, your website, and so on).
Then there’s the welcome message, which your visitors will see the first time they send you a message. Think of it as an ice-breaker to start a (hopefully rewarding) conversation with your customer. Because it pops up before you know what your customer wants from you, it’s best to keep it fairly generic.
For example, a simple welcome could do the trick. “Hi [First_name], welcome to [Business_name]. How can we help you today?”
Or something a little more direct. “Hi [Name]. We’re closed right now, but will get back to you within 24 hours. That’s a promise. So, how can we help?.” To set up a greeting like this, you do it in the app for Messenger and Instagram; while for GBM and WhatsApp, you set it up during the MessageMedia onboarding process.
3. It’s social, folks, so keep it friendly
Instant messaging has its roots in social media. So, you’ll want to keep things friendly and personal. Talk to customers like you’d talk to friends or family. Use their name. Use emojis.
In fact, people who use visuals like emojis in their messaging are 1.59 times more likely to say they have ‘great conversations’ than those who don’t. Yep.
TOP TIP: Want to add an emoji when typing your message within the MessageMedia portal? Easy. Just press Command+Control+Space (Mac) and Win+Period (PC) to bring up the emoji keyboard.
4. Stay one step ahead with templates
As the messages start pouring in, you’re probably thinking, “How am I going to stay on top of it all?” A little preparation goes a long way here. Set up templates that answer all the common queries you get, so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel or tap out a whole new message every time. Instead, it’s a simple cut and paste.
Another big benefit of templates? If you’ve got a team of people responding to messages at different times, templates help everyone stay on-brand and tonally consistent.
TOP TIP: Get inspiration for your templates from our huge catalogue of SMS templates, which can easily be repurposed for other messaging platforms.
5. Grab your customers’ details, just in case
On some channels, you only have 24 hours to respond to a customer who messages your business. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to ask for your customer’s details so you can follow up in another way if needed.
For example, if a customer asks a question about product availability, and you need to check in with your supplier, you could respond saying, “Thanks for your query, [NAME]. We’re checking with our supplier. Meantime, please share your mobile number so we can update you when I hear back from them (as a business, we can’t message you back on this channel after 24 hours).”
But just remember, If they give you their mobile number, you can only use it to continue the current conversation. You can’t add them to your list for SMS marketing unless you explicitly ask them for permission.
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