business storytellingContent Marketing

Snapchat customer service: A missed opportunity for businesses?

By September 20, 2016 No Comments

A couple of weeks ago we at Southerly HQ were lucky enough to be visited by Craig Fox and Nick Robertson, two baseball cap-wearing social media gurus with a remarkably in-depth knowledge of photo-messaging app Snapchat.

This dynamic duo, who have amassed a substantial social media following by utilising their likeability and comic nous, not only understand Snapchat, but appreciate its vast possibilities. They firmly believe it is a communication medium not being used to its full potential by businesses, particularly outside of the US, and after a couple of enlightening hours in their company I can’t help but think they’re on to something.

An introduction to Snapchat

The app, which has more daily active users than Twitter and is used by approximately 60% of all smartphone owners, is built on what is, in essence, a very basic premise: take a picture or film a short video, overlay it with text or some lovely cartoon graphics, send it to your mates, and get a similar image in return. The content is deleted as soon as all recipients have viewed it, or if you post a Snapchat story, 24 hours later if it’s not saved (more on that below).

For those that are Snapchat novices – a label which I would most certainly have bestowed upon myself prior to meeting Craig and Nick – the concept may appear to be nothing more than frivolous entertainment, but that is by no means the case; in the right hands, Snapchat can be both a powerful and beneficial business tool.

While Snapchat started as a channel for sharing pictures, its video capabilities are increasingly coming to the fore. Video clips are a great way to present and digest a story – our love of movies and box set binges testifies to that – so it makes sense that Snapchat has embraced the concept of allowing for video narratives.

Snapchat’s ‘Story’ innovation allows a user to post a succession of clips and snaps over a 24-hour period in order to tell a tale complete with beginning, middle and end. No longer are users hampered by the fact that a video can be no more than ten seconds long; now they are able to create longer-form yarns complete with plot, changes of scenery and anticipation by simply filming another segment.

Some of the world’s biggest brands – HP, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, UFC, Taco Bell and Disney, to name but a few – have invested a lot of time and money into developing their own distinct Snapchat profiles; by harnessing the ability to advertise and market products in a fun and immediate manner, brands are getting their messages out in a way that almost guarantees interaction.

However, while building and publishing a Story is an established Snapchat benefit, Craig and Nick are adamant that there is even more that businesses could, and perhaps should, be doing to provide consumers with additional value when they need it the most.

Customer service untapped on Snapchat

Research has found that three quarters (75%) of UK consumers say having to repeat information is their biggest gripe when attempting to gain customer service assistance. The results, which emerged following a comprehensive UBM study into customer service experiences, also found that 73% of respondents regard disjointed procedures – where they are passed from one person to another in a haphazard bid to resolve an issue – as a major bugbear.

However, by effectively utilising Snapchat as a means of responding to customer questions and queries, both of these grievances could be avoided. How, exactly? Well, I’m very pleased you asked.

Show and tell

A major issue that afflicts many of those calling customer service teams to report, and hopefully resolve, a problem, is the difficulty in accurately describing what is wrong. I know the pain; I’ve been embroiled in such a scenario on far too many occasions, generally because of a malfunctioning computer, printer or router.

The difficulty lies in the transference of information. When on the phone the complainant will be attempting to summarise an issue orally, which can lead very quickly to confusion, misunderstanding and, subsequently, lost tempers and frustration. Surely it would be far more efficient to take a video or picture of the problem – be it an error screen or mysterious flashing light – and send it directly to the customer support team, thereby minimising the possibility of encountering puzzlement or misinterpretation. Then, upon seeing the concern, the expert will not only have an accurate understanding of what the hitch is, but they will be able to send a picture or video demonstrating how it can be remedied.

For businesses, the opportunity to interact directly with a consumer in a way that offers both accurate and instantaneous solutions is one that makes a lot of sense, both in terms of the ease with which practical advice can be dispensed and because the Snapchat platform can be accessed free of charge. All a business would require is a dedicated team of knowledgeable problem-solvers with access to both a smartphone and whatever the query relates to, and the enquiry can theoretically be efficiently concluded within minutes.

The technology already exists – consumers and businesses are already using Snapchat regularly as part of their daily routine, after all – and yet this crossover does not yet appear to have materialised, much to Craig and Nick’s befuddlement.

The importance of good service

Research suggests that it can take as many as 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience, while it is estimated that news of bad customer service reaches ‘more than twice as many ears’ as praise for a positive experience.

Also – and this is a statistic that all businesses should really take note of – studies suggest three in five people would consider trying a new brand or company for a better service experience. Not only that, but seven in 10 adults would be ‘willing to spend more’ with a company if they believe they will receive a higher quality of service. These statistics and figures all point to one thing – the customer is king, and treating them well will ultimately reap rewards.

A study carried out by InfoQuest found that, on average, a ‘totally satisfied customer’ will contribute 2.6 times more revenue than a ‘somewhat satisfied customer’, and 14 times more than a ‘somewhat dissatisfied customer’. Giving the consumer what they want – be that in terms of product, service or price – is absolutely vital, and businesses should be doing all they can to appeal to their audience so as to offer them services and propositions they will truly value. Snapchat is an avenue that most companies are yet to fully explore, but is one that could conceivably place a business way ahead of its competitors.

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