Facebook held its iD8 conference for developers in Nairobi on Friday November 22, 2019. The conference which has previously gone to New York, Sao Paulo, Berlin, and Singapore, was a first in Nairobi. The event highlighted how Facebook supports startups in their work globally. There were several highlights from the different sessions.
The messenger platform is one of the Facebook avenues that businesses have taken advantage of, to build products that solve their customers’ needs. Trevor Kimenye, our CEO was part of the speakers at the conference as one of the pioneers who has built a business on top of the messenger platform.
Proud Nzambukira, Facebook’s Products and Partnerships Lead for Middle East and Africa, led a Facebook live session, where he had discussion with Kofi Dadzie, Co-founder and executive vice chair of Rancard, and Trevor, our CEO and Co-founder. The discussion was on their experiences as some of the pioneers of building businesses on the messenger platform.
Mr. Nzambukira mentioned the massive shift in how users interact with business through messaging. 64% of customers prefer communicating with businesses through messaging as opposed to over the phone. This makes a case for businesses to leverage on the use of messenger platforms to engage their customers.
People prefer messaging due to convenience in terms of cost and user experience, as Trevor observed. There is also a wider demographic of audience found on messenger platforms. Trevor shared how he communicates with his parents through messenger, without incurring extra charges. He said that this advantage sets messaging platforms like Facebook messenger above traditional platforms which are more costly.
Telcos and large traditionally oriented companies view customer support to customers with the least value as costly. Messaging democratizes the space of customer service because you can use tech, so its programmable and automatable. You are able to do some tradeoffs between quick replies and the costs of providing a service to all your customers despite their value. Reducing costs of serving customers.
Traditionally minded companies still need more education, to see the value of new platforms like messenger. As communication evolves from print to emails, and now to social networks, messenger makes it even more effective. Businesses can chat directly with their clients.
Mr. Dadzie mentioned how people have conversations with their trusted networks through messenger. They also spend much of their time having conversations on messenger platforms. Businesses like Rancard, a trust-based social recommendations platform.
Developers play a critical role in organizations to help integrate messenger into their platforms. Facebook Developer Circles provide developers with communities which they can grow their skills and careers. They can also innovate and be involved in emerging technologies.
Speaking on a panel session later in the day, Trevor said that at Ongair, we rely on the feedback loop from our customers to better our product, and thus address our customers’ needs. “It’s always important to listen to what your customers are saying, because they are the ones who interact with your product,'' he said.
There is still space for improving the escalation flow between automation (bots) and human agents so that there is a seamless experience while offering service to customers. Businesses should get used to artificial employees and think through a seamless flow of customer support.
**The future of messenger **
Trevor was excited to see the possibility of group messaging for businesses, the evolution of communication and emerging Apps.
Kofi Dadzie said that he envisions a future that’s about data: how it's going to be harnessed, harvested, analyzed and presented.