In an article on their blog, Buffer unveiled a brand new tool, called SocialChat, to help improve the conversations that companies have with users on their websites.
SocialChat allows website visitors to start conversations on your site, and continue them outside of your site, via Twitter direct messages (DMs) or Facebook Messenger.
What is Buffer trying to solve with SocialChat?
With the launch of SocialChat, Buffer is solving for two common challenges that companies face when implementing chat on their websites:
Not all online chats can be handled by a chat bot; and
Most website chat solutions are don't allow the conversation to continue once someone has left the website.
While chatbots hold the potential to automate a substantial volume of the queries that the typical website visitor has, they can't completely replace that 1 to 1, human connection.
In fact, a Conversocial study found that 59% of people "considered interacting with a human agent to be more important than being serviced by a bot or AI-driven resolution."
This data reflects the reality that not all conversations people start online are a for a good fit for a bot to step into. Sometimes people just really want to get in touch with a person and ask deeper questions. In other cases, the nature of the conversation is too complex for a bot to handle.
Buffer also recognized that not all of these conversations come to a natural conclusion during a single website visit and that some visitors will want to continue their conversation on other platforms.
SocialChat solves for both of these challenges by providing brands with a streamlined solution for engaging in live conversations with their website visitors, and then continuing those conversations long after the visitor has left the website.
Social Media and Customer Engagement
The brands that use social media successfully are the ones that design their social strategies around the platforms that their customers are already using.
Not surprisingly, this is why Facebook and Twitter are typically on the list when companies develop their corporate social media strategies. They both have large user bases, and they offer easy opportunities for 1 on 1 conversation, particularly when it comes to customer support.
Think how common (and easy) it is for the average person to directly message a major brand on Twitter when, for example, online software is spontaneously down (and they want answers).
Here's a great example from Nike:
Messaging is quick (and far less painful than waiting on hold for phone support), and Buffer knows that. SocialChat is designed to help businesses break down barriers to allow for faster and easier communication - something that will inevitably result in happier customers.
What the Launch of SocialChat Means for Marketers
The release of Buffer's SocialChat tool immediately made me reflect on HubSpot's new flywheel and how one of the key concepts behind a well-functioning flywheel is the reduction of friction.
Tools like SocialChat, which are designed to streamline communication with customers, are one effective way to reduce friction in the customer experience.
When it comes to SocialChat, companies should think about what their communication channels with their user base currently are.
Are you bot and social media savvy, and this seems like a logical next step?
Or are you still only allowing people to get in touch via a phone call?
If you're struggling to make time for social media or skeptical of the value that you can derive through an investment in social customer service, consider this from Buffer's SocialChat announcement:
"When a phone call was the number one way to keep in touch, businesses offered phone support and sales. When email took over as the default communication channel, businesses followed. Now that the majority of peer-to-peer communication happens over social messaging apps and products, businesses have again followed suit."
People will continue to gravitate towards the easiest channel of communication when they have a question or need to resolve a problem - it's just human nature.
I recommend finding ways to make it as convenient as possible for your audience to get in touch with you, whether it be through Buffer's SocialChat, or by implementing a support bot for the first time.
You'd be surprised how your audience will thank you for making your company more readily available when they need you most.