"I don't know anyone who likes calling businesses. It's not fast or convenient, and it definitely doesn't feel like the future". These words opened the F8 Developer Conference, where we have witnessed the evolution of Facebook from social network to conversation platform between brands and customers.
The quote by Mark Zuckerberg is also a good starting point to understand the value of the human algorithm in the digital era, and how the new idea of Facebook Messenger will impact digital customer experience (DCX).
The opening keynote by the founder and CEO of the largest social media site in the world carried very good news to all those customers constantly facing bad customer experiences, online and offline. The evolution of Facebook, in fact, will bring to a seamless streamline of the purchase process, from awareness to post-purchase customer service. All centered around Facebook Messenger, so that you won't need to ever leave the big platform.
MORE HUMAN THAN HUMAN
The heart of the matter: we have now entered the new era for customers, where physical and digital converge into an omni-channel customer journey, shaped by mobile devices. In such a flowering of disruptive technologies, you might think that the ‘human factor’ is not as critical as it was in the pre-Internet era.
This is far from being true, and the F8 conference proved that Facebook is well-aware of the importance of human beings in the digital transformation. It's not a coincidence that Zuckerberg has called the new identity of Facebook a ‘family of apps’ rather than a single social network. A growing platform - with Messenger at the core - to best serve an ever growing audience of users and customers.
The centrality of the messaging outlets - with the launch of Messenger Business and the integration of WhatsApp in the Facebook newsfeed - is the perfect exemplification of how markets have become conversations, forcing brands to evolve into publishers. Despite the fact that we live in an increasingly automated ecosystem - or maybe precisely for this very reason - customers demand a more human connection during all moments-of-truth of the purchase process.
THE SECOND FACEBOOK REVOLUTION
Social media have had a major role in the revolution of society and human relations, but now they need to take a further step to increase the human factor in 'business relations'. Facebook is guiding the second social revolution, transitioning from a single network into a complete service platform - a family of apps dedicated to people and companies:
Content sharing (branded and user generated stories);
Instant messaging (and real-time customer service);
People focused analytics (for tailor-cut contents and solutions);
Targeted advertising (banner versus in-app contents);
Internet of Things (with the acquisition of Parse);
Social shopping (search, pay and buy without leaving Facebook);
Virtual reality (with the Oculus Rift headset).
All elements will combine to offer a complete - people and mobile first - customer journey, to deliver personalized experiences and ultimately improve customer satisfaction. That’s where Facebook is headed for: with 890 million daily active users (as of February 2015), the goal is to become the most important communication tool in the world. A tool that people will use not just for personal purposes but also to deal with brands and make business.
The business side of the website is already critical but in the near future Facebook will offer a more integrated platform where companies can build their identity and image (we all know the value of social world-of-mouth), but also manage the connection with every single customer (in terms of engagement, loyalty, support and gamification).
THE DAWN OF THE HUMAN BRAND
Facebook is paving the way for all other brands, to create a new paradigm focused on "discovery, engagement, expression". We are rapidly moving towards markets where impersonal organizations will transform into human brands, and people - not products - will become the center of every digital marketing strategy. This is the human algorithm, part technology and part communication.
For decades companies have created their strategies relying on the power of top-down communication and advertising, regardless of the different need and desires of real clients. In the new era, the so-called Age of the Customer, this would never work. Empowered customers demand a new two-ways approach, in the name of active involvement and engagement.
In this perspective, Facebook is focusing on the centrality of human connection, where all relations are mediated by objects/devices and machines don’t even need human intervention to communicate. Many companies already use social media as part of the customer care service, but Messenger Business will add the ability to engage users in a one-to-one communication in real-time. To give them help whenever they need it, wherever they are and whatever device they are using.
This evolution will affect - more than all other industries - retail and e-retail. The reason is simple: in the digital years an E-Commerce firm can’t be reduced to a website, the same way a brick and mortar is not just a plain store. They both need to ‘evolve to involve’ people into a complete stream that includes showcase, purchase, new means of payment, and customer service.
Facebook Messenger for business is the key to understand the (r)evolution of digital customer experience: the inefficient flow of pre-formatted Emails will be replaced by a consistent communication, to share ideas and accompany the client across all steps of the purchase. Engaging him with a proficient and open conversation about the product you sell and he wants to buy.
The Human algorithm, rooted in data but nourished with mutual understanding, will always be critical to improve customer retention: if one sale can be the result of a good push advertising, there's no doubt that repeat sales only come from a compelling and satisfying experiences.
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Social media trends are crucial for a better customer experience management. That's why why we have included social relations in the DCX 7-Steps Checklist, a useful guide crafted by Neosperience, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation. You can download the free paper here: