Automated Messaging to Take Over Customer Service?

A general understanding.

In an era where people are looking for the easiest method of doing things it looks as though businesses might be the front runner for this. Over the years, businesses have been looking for the easiest option for not only themselves, but for their customers too. This is a huge step for Facebook if they can make this work as it puts them in position to compete with Twitter and their ability to allow businesses to communicate with customers through direct message – the fact of the matter is, you just don’t see many businesses dealing with customer service issues through Facebook messenger. Facebook seems to be influenced by a successful Asian company, WeChat, which allows customers to make simple purchases, pay for movie tickets, or even getting a taxi. Facebook head of product managmessenger2016ement stated that “everything starts with a conversation,” which is ultimately true in customer service and even making a sale. When you consider the statistics from the 2015 calendar year, it makes sense that Facebook messenger would be the company to try this in North America as there users are increasing each year as captured in this image.

How will Facebook configure the automated messaging?

Well the truth is, Facebook has probably been planning to do this for awhile based on the fact they are already training the AI and bots they will be using for this project. Messenger has an option to speak to “M” through the messenger section of Facebook. M is simply an additional friend you have in the messenger section and, like Siri with Apple, you can ask them questions and interact – just by typing and noM4(2)t voice activation. Although M is based off of artificial intelligence, you can purchase items, plane tickets, book reservations, etc. which is why there is a team of human trainers that work along with M until it has perfected all aspects of communicating. This is great marketing by Facebook as they are not looking to take profits from business owners, but small businesses like flower shops and many more will look to promote or become featured on this aspect of messenger, which is where the real money is for Facebook. This is ideal for small businesses as they don’t have to deal with the customer service aspect or deal with any human interaction at all – just complete the order that the AI has processed. On the other hand, small businesses can save a lot of money and time by not having to create their own app or service that will provide similar benefits as Facebook’s messenger would – they can just pay to become featured on this service. In the direction this seems to be headed, it would be a very wise business investment for small businesses to become acquainted with messengers service.

Refer to Social Media Today for the full report.

5 Social Media Tools to Manage a Small Business

Focus is often directed towards large businesses and how they manage their companies through social media. Although small businesses don’t have the PR teams and social media teams that larger businesses have, they can still improve their traffic, success, profile management, and presence by using some of these tools. As per PC World, the top five social media tools and apps to help manage your business are: Hootsuite, VerticalResponse, Sprout Social, Sendible, and Postling. Depending on your small business’s budget, some of these options may not be the best as they come with a fee after an initial trial phase.


 

Hootsuite

This is a great option for businesses running on a tight budget as although there is a paid pro option that allows for more access to the app, there is a free version.  The free version allows one user to manage the profiles, and you can manage up to five social media platforms at a time. The pro version allows for more than one user to access the managing of accounts and prScreen Shot 2016-03-13 at 11.50.49 PM.pngovides you with more features. If you are looking to post content with times that provide the most traffic, this site allows you to pre draft a post, schedule it for a set date to post, and post it for you on the desired platform. Hootsuite Pro is available for $10 per month, opposed to the much more basic free plan.


VerticalResponse

This tool allows you to tie your email and social media platforms together, rather than looking at them as two separate tools. This also allows you to schedule anything from single updates on your accounts, to an entire marketing campaign up to a month in advance. VerticalResponse collects a genScreen Shot 2016-03-13 at 11.51.41 PM.pngeral library of relevant websites that are useful to the industry that you are in – this helps businesses avoid getting lost in the many websites that are associated to the company they are working in. This tool was also specifically designed for companies who are understaffed and do not have the time or knowledge to manage their platforms. VerticalResponse only offers one version of the service and it costs $18 per month.


Sprout Social

The advantage of this tool opposed to the others mentioned are that it allows you to view your social media reports in an easy to read thumbnail, if your small business has multiple people operating the accounts it can allow you to assign roles for each member, and the “smart inbox” feature displays all your mentions from each platform. Within 24 hours of signing up, Sprout Social collects the demographicScreen Shot 2016-03-13 at 11.52.06 PM.png of all your followers and notifies you on what you can be doing better to reach them. Despite Sprout Social being ahead of the other tools in terms of easy navigation, the extra analytics features, and the “smart inbox,” it doesn’t allow you to incorporate your email and it is fairly costly. The Small Biz plan that allows you to monitor up to 20 social media profiles, costs $39 per month. The Deluxe plan allows you to maintain a maximum of 40 social profiles, and costs $59 per month. The Premium plan offers unlimited profile management, and it costs $899 per month.


Sendible

For companies who use social media in a more aggressive, specific manner, Sendible is likely worth the price. Sendible’s ability to allow you to post to specific photo albums or notes to your page or status updates on Facebook or LinkedIn can cut time down immensely. Sendible also has programming to allow your bScreen Shot 2016-03-13 at 11.50.04 PM.pngusiness to receive email alerts specific to key words you have selected related to the field your business is in or company name, etc. With the special “Marketer” package from Sendible, you can gain access to Google Analytics which is crucial to small businesses. The Marketer plan costs $30 per month and provides up to 30 services, while the Business plan provides a maximum 80 services, for $70 per month.


Postling

Postling is a great key for monitoring your social media profiles as it provides great analytics, as well as reviews on TripAdvisor and Yelp, and actual postingScreen Shot 2016-03-13 at 11.49.25 PM.png on your profiles. Hospitality and restaurants should look to become very familiar and benefit from this tool as Yelp and TripAdvisor are man reviewing and feedback tools for businesses in those fields. Similar to Sprout, you can manage all mentions and messages in one inbox from the site. Although Postling is a great tool, it can become very costly as an initial five accounts to monitor are $5 per month, then an additional $3 per month per extra account.


Summary

Small businesses should look to experiment with each of these listed tools. Considering the free trial that most of them offer, it is worth it to experiment and decide which works best for your company. Any business in the hospitality and restaurant industry should absolutely use Postling, while experimenting with others. Although these all cost money, when you consider the time and money you will save by using these tools, rather than hiring social media experts or teams to manage your accounts it is worth it.

Via Angela West, PCWorld

5 Reasons Why Every Business Needs Social Media

Brand Awareness

Social media platforms allow you to easily promote your brands new ideas or products instantly to a large number of viewers. Considering more than two thirds of the country are currently active on sociGet_Hooked_360_Digital_Marketing_Increase_Brand_Awareness20121116_Articleal media there is a large audience. Millennials are beginning to have a larger impact on businesses and when you factor in their extensive use of social media and habit of making things go viral, this is crucial for brand awareness.

 


Legitimizing a Brand

It’s great that you have spread awareness about your brand, however the now that you have the customers attention you must make them want to stay. Once customers have been made aware of you, their first stop is likely your business website – which is often a fairly standard, static page. You must direct them to your social media pages where new information is being regularly updated and interaction between customers should be visible. “A website establishes that a brand exists, but a social media page establishes that the brand is active,” therefore allowing customers to see that you are active will generate more followers, which often determines how legitimate people view your brand. Also, 63 percent of consumers who search for local businesses online are more likely to use businesses with information on social media sites. On the other hand, failing to be active on social media can make consumers wonder if your business is still existent and failing to reply to comments can make the consumer question your customer service – this leads to delegitimizing your brand.


Increase Sales

Often brand awareness and legitimizing your brand is enough to increase sales, however their is more direct ways to improve your company’s revenue. Buy buttons are becoming more and more common on social media allowing customers an easier option to buy items directly from a company. On platforms like Facebook, using the Fahow-to-increase-sales.jpgcebook store, apps like Ecwid and Beetailer can be very useful. For Twitter, companies directly linked to Amazon can allow customers to add items to their Amazon.com cart directly from their Twitter feed with the click of a button. Other networks like Pinterest, Youtube, Instagram, etc. are now implementing buy systems for business directly on their platforms.


Customer Service

When considering the benefits of social media in business, customer service access might be one of the most beneficial tools you can access. Companies can monitor hashtags, keywords, and mentions involving their business or products and directly respond or initiate a private message conversation to resolve an issue. In a world technologically dependent, customers are more likely to take to social mms-shutterstock-pic-164375498-stock-photo-good-service-makes-the-difference.jpgedia to complain about a product or service then they are to phone or e-mail your help line making it crucial to monitor feedback of your company. This all directly relates to establishing your brand and creating consumer loyalty.


Distribution

Distributing your content and using social media as a marketing tool is key considering consumers spend 50 percent of their time on the ophotodune-2601486-social-media-marketing-in-tag-cloud-s.jpgnline, with an additional 30 percent of time spent on social media. Once you have created awareness and established your brand, you have a target audience and the next step is making sure you promote your products and services over the appropriate platforms with appropriate material for each platform.

 

 

For more information, visit this page!

 

 

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