A few months after we first started OwnerListens, we talked about a long term vision in which consumers can message businesses through whatever platform they choose. If you prefer WhatsApp, Messenger, Twitter or even good old email for your messaging needs, you should be able to use those platforms to communicate with businesses. Your communications should be private, secure, and, of course, immediate.
We reached out to Facebook (and others) to try to get them to let us route customer messages to businesses through Messenger but heard back that it “wasn’t a priority”, “not strategic” and “makes Facebook too commercial” (ha!). We figured it would be a while before messaging platforms opened up to this concept – these companies had more immediate challenges to tend to. But, we knew it had to happen. It simply doesn’t make sense that you can text your friends, your family, your colleagues but not businesses.
After digging into the problem for months, we also knew it was hard to solve; routing messaging to the right person in an organization, at the right time and place is not trivial – – particularly in environments where employees are always moving around, such as brick and mortars and on-premises services (plumbers, electricians). Anticipating that someday this problem will challenge many others who want to provide consumer to business messaging, we got even more excited about tackling it. We dove into it not knowing how difficult it would really be.
Three years and 200 iterations later, we’ve solved big parts of the problem. With OwnerListens, businesses can have customers message them via SMS, app or web and have the messages routed through a workflow that leads to the fastest, most appropriate support – be it an onsite employee, an offsite support center or an automated answer (a useful one).
We were happy to read that Facebook is finally coming around to this huge opportunity. A few days ago, David Marcus, the new head of Facebook Messenger discussed the topic with Jessie Hempel of Wired:
“In similar fashion, Marcus wants to reinvent messaging between people and businesses, so that it’s useful to both parties. “It’s really broken,” he tells me, as we are wrapping up our airport coffee.
I agree with him. Who doesn’t hate spam mail? But I can’t imagine how it could be better. “What do you mean?” I ask.
“Well, what airline are you flying today?” he says.”
“United,” I reply.
“Have you ever looked forward to calling United?” he asks with a slight smile.
(To read the full interview go here)
Right on Mr. Marcus! We completely agree. And, may we add, it’s not just large companies with full blown call centers that can do this. Any company can be instant messaging with its customers in minutes. Whether large or small, online or offline, B2B or B2C.
The good news is that instant messaging with customers saves you money, generates more revenue and protects your online reputation. It’s a win-win proposition for you and for your customers. If you’re not texting or instant messaging with your customers, you are missing out on the world’s most powerful and widely used communications method. You can’t afford to ignore this trend any longer.