Moving away from email to live channels

21st November 2016

A few months back, I wrote about email being a dying channel for effective customer support, after hearing how a large consumer electronics company was trying to do exactly that.

Not being someone that remains comfortable with theoretical practices, and also seeing the issues that email caused for us, I decided to speak to some colleagues as well as the C-level, to see how we as a company feel about such a drastic move. After many several positive discussions, we decided that there would be huge benefits for Blacklane should we do the same:

We also looked at web-based solutions, and made sure that any decision made wouldn’t need to be reversed for reasons beyond our control. This was triggered by a large messaging network intentionally stopping businesses from using their system by deleting accounts, as they have a clear focus on C2C.

There was only one choice that filled all requirements, all other options missed at least one. As such, we have gradually been implementing Facebook Messenger over the past weeks and are extremely happy with how it’s being accepted by our customers. So why did we choose Facebook?

Although irrelevant for us, since our implementation in September, Facebook has continued to push Facebook Messenger:

So how did we approach this ourselves, and what limitations did we have?

Our customers are very segmented. We have a high level of transparency around leisure travelers and business travelers, but also a blended segment because we work with DPs (Distribution Partners) and GDS (Global Distribution Systems). As such, there may well be leisure travelers booking through one of these channels, who have an agreement with us around service levels and policies (lead times, cancellations etc). Some of our customers are averse to using Social Media in general, and would not like us to proactively use Facebook Messenger as a channel.

We also know many of our customers are booking airport pickups when traveling abroad. Specifically the leisure travelers may not have roaming enabled when abroad, so they provided us with a good use-case – Most airports offer free wifi, so a live channel for them would be a good scenario should they need our support.

That gave us the initial set up that we would aim for, and here’s what we did:

This was mid-September and until then our Social was less than 1% of our incoming volumes, with Voice being predominant with approximately 65% and email 34%. Since then, Facebook Messenger, which accounts for 99% of the Social segment is anywhere between 4% and 6% of total volume, while Voice has remained stable. Email has clearly decreased, reinforcing our belief that we’re moving in the right direction.

Since then, we have decided to push more, clearly showing our Facebook Page visitors that we are available to chat (see the image on this post), and over the next weeks we will attempt to provide more entry points to this channel.

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If you’d like to learn more about our experiences, you can of course message me personally on Facebook messenger

** – source = App Annie, Sept 2016
* – source = Statista, Sept 2016