Gregg Zegras is the senior vice president of global e-commerce at Pitney Bowes.
How would you describe Facebook?
Historically, it’s been the social hub of billions of global users looking to stay connected with friends and family through shared content. Yet in recent years, it’s become more difficult to describe Facebook in a few words — depending on who you ask, it’s a place for businesses to share information with consumers, advertisers to market to target audiences, media to deliver news and, as early as last year, it’s became a place to conduct real business.
Full disclosure: I’m not an avid Facebook user. But when the site announced plans last year to socially sell to consumers through Messenger, I couldn’t ignore just how powerful this business transformation could be for both consumers and businesses. The announcement was a strategic move for Facebook, and an extremely attractive offering to business users, because it allowed them to tap into something that few have access to on their own: a billion-person global market.
Other online platforms like Google and Pinterest quickly followed suit, launching “buy” buttons, allowing consumers to make purchases through these non-traditional e-commerce sites. Over the past year, you may have even made your own purchase through one of these platforms, reveling in a customer experience that is real-time, on a platform you have already adopted and that is more tailored to your location. But most importantly, it’s an experience that gives you complete control of your interaction with a business, because you choose when, how and where you’re receiving this communication.
Just recently, Facebook launched a new capability within Messenger that experts believe will expand the site’s business offerings beyond social selling and into the world of customer service. Chatbots offer a new capability within the Messenger platform that will allow a consumer to chat with an automated system, similar to online chat support you may have previously used on an e-commerce site.
Since the launch of chatbots, reports have shown a flock of business developers using the new capabilities, and end users adopting the developed applications. In just one month, almost 5,000 businesses have used chatbots to send order confirmations and automated alerts through Messenger. Even video game franchise Call of Duty has used a chatbot to send upwards of six million messages to its gamers.
These numbers are no joke. With the widely accepted and hugely popular business application of Messenger, it begs the question: Will Facebook become the new call center operator?
Here’s why: As I mentioned, Facebook has a global footprint unmatched by any other business online. More so, because of the vast amounts of personal data they’ve gathered about individuals, they have the ability to create personalized experiences that consumers today demand. But probably the most important technology they’re leveraging right now is video — which for online and offline businesses is now the hottest ticket to customer engagement.
Consumers want to consume through video. But consumers also want to engage through video.
Video is the new communication channel everyone is trying to get their hands on. For Facebook alone, consumers are viewing 100 million hours of video a day via Facebook mobile. In fact, daily views have skyrocketed from one billion to eight billion in a single year. Nicola Mendelsohn, vice president for Facebook in Europe, the Middle East and Africa was just quoted as saying Facebook will probably be all video in the next five years.
Consumers want to consume through video. But consumers also want to engage through video. There are new video solutions available today that go beyond pause and play. Recently, Shoplandia, a video-enabled e-commerce marketplace, launched the first end-to-end shoppable video creation and streaming platform. For sellers, they can create a story behind their product. For the buyer, they can imagine what it means for them. They can see how a product actually works or how an outfit can come together.
Real businesses outside the e-commerce space are using interactive and personalized videos to engage with consumers at unprecedented levels. These aren’t your static YouTube videos. No, these videos offer consumers a self-guided journey, giving all control to the viewer. Viewers can click through the video, choosing a journey they want to experience.
Some insurance businesses have returned an 80 percent increase in revenue after deploying the videos, and one telecommunications company experienced a 12-point jump in Net Promoter Score. A services company even saw $85 million in sales revenue through deployments of videos. So why haven’t e-commerce businesses begun to capitalize on this technology, too?
Facebook is leading the charge for social commerce done right. They’ve proven success as both a social and business platform, but their success as both a social seller and customer service provider will depend on their ability to leverage new video technologies. The use of self-service video technologies that are interactive and engaging will digitally transform any social platform from what it is today to what it wants to be tomorrow.
I believe we’re in the midst of a profound period of digital transformation. Through the integration of social platforms, e-commerce and interactive, personalized video, I will soon hear the words, “Hi, Gregg. Thank you for contacting your call center support, brought to you by Facebook.”
Featured Image: Bryce Durbin