Meta recently announced the first-ever business messaging conference, dubbed ‘Conversations,’ which will occur in May.
This is exciting, especially for people in APAC, because it reflects changes in how people interact with businesses. Everyone is witnessing the immense power of messaging to fuel the next generation of business growth.
In their personal experiences, many people have shifted from calling to simply messaging businesses via WhatsApp and Messenger. Making travel arrangements for secret or family trips, for example, is a breeze!
Everything happens over a few messages, from communicating with the diagnostic laboratory about your pre-departure COVID-19 test results to checking into your hotel and making reservations at your favorite restaurants. The general preference is now to chat rather than call and wait on hold.
And it’s clear that a lot of people value this convenience. Every week, more than 1 billion users connect with a business account via Meta’s messaging services.
This is not unusual behavior. For years, people have talked about conversational commerce and how they want to connect with businesses in the same way they connect with their friends and family.
They don’t want to call and be put on hold, or send an email and not know if it was received – they just want to send a message and receive a quick, personalized response. But what’s new is that this behavior has only gotten worse as the pandemic has progressed.
WhatsApp and Messenger are used to run entire businesses in the Asia Pacific, particularly in South Asia and Southeast Asia. Going to a website these days, according to one such merchant, is like going to a store with no one to help you.
Millions of businesses in the APAC region have adapted to these tools and see the value in being conversational. There are inspiring stories from Meta teams in Thailand and Vietnam – two of the world’s most active business messaging countries – that provide a glimpse into the future of customer communication.
Consider the case of HomeHuk, a Thai online furniture retailer with a product inventory of over 5,000 items. They wanted to allow customers to chat, ask questions about products, and have an automated experience to help them make a purchase.
They collaborated with Chatpify, a provider of end-to-end conversational commerce solutions, to develop the Messenger experience. To bring people into the incident, HomeHuk ran ads that directed them to Messenger.
They could then ask questions about specific products, make purchases, and receive real-time order confirmations, tracking numbers, and delivery status updates within Messenger.
The team created custom automation for HomeHuk that included quick responses, buttons, and interaction flows that were tailored to the available products. They used a third-party natural language processor to improve conversations and reduce drop-offs, as well as a handover protocol that allowed customer service agents to take over when the automation couldn’t answer a question.
HomeHuk’s launch of the experience was not met with immediate success. They listened, learned, built, and optimized a successful Messenger experience after running several trials to figure out the different interaction flows and automation.
To ensure that the campaign reached the right people, the team split-tested different ad creative and targeting.
HomeHuk discovered that the quickest and most direct flows worked best over time. Customers could check out in three to four steps, thanks to the team’s efforts.
They discovered that the most effective ads and creative were those that felt genuine and informative. Customers simply wanted to see actual product images, reviews, and demonstration videos.
This method is part of the Meta Discovery Commerce system, and it assisted HomeHuk to transform its Messenger experience into an important new sales channel for the company.
“In just a little over a year, we could sell to over half a million customers across Thailand purely through chatting on Messenger,” said Jed Charungcharoenvejj, CMO of HomeHuk. This is just one of the region’s many success stories.
Nonetheless, many businesses continue to rely on legacy channels that are time-consuming, ineffective, expensive, and unpopular with their customers. Realistically, it is time for every company to consider its conversational quotient.
Business messaging will only grow as the region opens up and people come to expect a more hybrid shopping experience. There is no longer a single method for shopping online.
People want to be able to order in-store and have it delivered, or to inquire about product availability before going in person to pick up something. Messaging can enable all of these touchpoints and weave them together to create a seamless and connected experience.
To be honest, transitioning to a conversational business can be intimidating at first. If you’re ready to take the plunge and want to learn more about your options, join Meta virtually on May 19 for the “Conversations” conference.
You can hear how businesses have found success using Meta’s messaging tools, from the most recent messaging tools across the Meta family of apps to hands-on knowledge through technical deep-dive sessions and demos.
It’s an excellent first step toward building stronger relationships with your customers and positioning your company for future growth.