Chances are, your brand isn’t ready for WeChat 4.0

Brands and their agency counterparts need to keep pace with WeChat’s evolving digital ecosystem. Here’s what the latest changes mean and how to make the most of them.

If brands and their agency counterparts aren’t keeping pace with WeChat’s evolving digital ecosystem, they are forfeiting valuable opportunities to create consumer relevance.

Just last week, WeChat’s subscription account display improved from a stacked list of accounts to a content feed.

Here’s some other recent changes:
• Look, an inventory, technical and distribution partner for fashion KOLs claimed that its most successful KOLs can move anywhere between 5 million and 100 million RMB of stock per month through their individual WeChat stores.
• 跳一跳 (Jump, Jump), a mobile game within WeChat, attracted 400 million players within three days of launch.
• Netease Music migrated playlists from its app to its WeChat mini-program.
• Tencent Video opened a WeChat mini-program that allows viewers to watch the latest Game of Thrones episodes.

The above examples beg a simple question: What’s happening to WeChat?

The answer is deceptively simple, but the implications are far-reaching. WeChat’s evolving. It’s now a fully-fledged digital ecosystem, enabling its billion-strong monthly active user base to access digital experiences and services, not just content.

To understand the changes taking place, let’s first backtrack a little to WeChat’s humble beginnings in 2011.

From WeChat 1.0 to WeChat 4.0

WeChat’s development has been through four distinct phases.

The first phase, WeChat 1.0, connected users with users. Users chat with, call and transfer files between one another through individual or group chats.

The second phase, WeChat 2.0, connected users with information through WeChat Official Accounts. These official accounts, including subscription accounts and service accounts, periodically send users long-form articles, memes or notifications.

In February 2014, WeChat was turned on its head as its ‘Red Packet’ (红包) function was unveiled at CCTV’s Spring Festival Gala, with 1.2 billion red packets delivered over the festive period. This represented the dawn of WeChat 3.0, which connected users with payments.

WeChat’s integration with payments didn’t stop at peer-to-peer payments through red packets stuffed with virtual money. In the blink of an eye, WeChat extended its payment function to utilities, mobile phone credits, and offline purchases.

WeChat 3.0 was a significant turning point in WeChat’s development. It transitioned WeChat from a social media giant to a ‘super app’, commanding around 30% of Chinese internet users’ time online.

However, WeChat’s most significant change came in January 2017 when it lifted the veil off its mini-program. This program allows an application smaller than 10 megabytes to run instantly within WeChat, removing the need to download and install an app from Apple’s App Store or Google Play. It may sound small, but apps smaller than 10 megabytes can achieve a lot: order a taxi, have take-out delivered to your door, rent a shared bike, purchase a pair of sneakers, and watch your favourite vlogger’s livestream. Like its ‘red packets’ in 2014, mini-programs heralded a significant shift in how Chinese users interact with WeChat.

Within the space of the next 18 months, WeChat implemented a new format of Moments Ads (advertisements now presented as an enlarged ‘card’, instead of the previous text-image-link format), WeChat Search (an internal search engine across content on Moments, in articles from official accounts, related mini-programs, stickers, music or novels), and Mini-Games.

An enormous amount of change, compressed into a relatively short time frame. This is the fourth stage of WeChat’s development, WeChat 4.0, which connected users to a full digital ecosystem. Messaging, search, entertainment, gaming, payments, e-commerce, mobility and lifestyle services can now all be completed within WeChat.

Source:; 25 June 2018

Consumers want customisation and service while brands offer discounts

New research provides further evidence that marketers are missing the mark when it comes to personalisation. According to Epsilon’s report, there is often a disconnect between marketers and the consumers they are trying to reach, centring around a misunderstanding of what the latter actually want from personalisation.

In a survey of consumers, the company found that 32% want brands to customise their offerings to suit them and their specific needs, while another 32% thought that knowledge of their likes and dislikes was the most important part of successful personalisation.

Brands, however, tend not to be focusing on this kind of personalised experience. Instead, 31% of those surveyed area putting most of their eggs into the discounts and rewards programmes basket. 22% are putting simple recommendations at the heart of their personalisation strategy.

When it came to customisation and service, these were prioritised by 16% and 8% of brands respondents respectively.

Insight and action

“With the report revealing that 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalised experiences, it’s a no-brainer. But brands need to be aware that there are so many factors within ‘personalisation’ and this doesn’t always mean saving money on your next purchase,” commented Elliott Clayton, SVP Media UK, Conversant.

Tellingly, 27% of the consumers surveyed didn’t think that brands are trying hard enough to improve their personalisation, and 7% actually think that they are getting worse.

“If consumers feel that brands are offering less personalisation, then clearly something is going very wrong,” concluded Clayton.

“The only way for brands to truly understand their customers’ buying motivations and what their consumers want is to access insight on both past and real-time consumer actions and decisions through a true single customer view. However, they also need to be able to act on this insight, creating real one-to-one conversations, gradually building them up over time and across all their devices.”

Source:; 12 Apr 2018

Facebook says ‘sky is the limit’ for Messenger as it brings customer service tools to brand websites

Facebook is hoping to make it easier for brands to use Messenger for customer service as it looks to provide a more efficient alternative to call centres.

Facebook is making a major push on its Messenger service as it looks to provide marketers with a “more efficient” customer service alternative to call centres.

Facebook is introducing a money transfer tool for the UK market and a new chat plugin, which will allow brands to embed a customer service chatbot directly onto their website. The new services are part of the rollout of Facebook Messenger 2.2 and also include the ability for brands to start sending people sponsored messages.

There will be additional metrics for tracking Messenger performance, while Facebook is opening up its business development tools to new languages including French, Portuguese and German.

Speaking at Web Summit in Lisbon today (7 November), Facebook’s head of Messenger products Stan Chudnovsky said the “sky was the limit” in terms of the chat platform’s transition into a customer service tool. He believes consumers have grown tired of the traditional ways of dealing with a complaint or product query and are looking for a better way to talk to brands.

Chudnovsky explained: “At the moment, you have to call someone up then press ‘one’, then press ‘three’, then press ‘four’ while being put on and off hold. It’s a pain for millions of people.

“The phone model isn’t efficient enough anymore and it’s a lot more efficient for them to be on Facebook Messenger. The sky really is the limit in terms of how big this can become.”

Brands including Argos, Aviva and Air France are already signed up to Messenger and offer a customer service chatbot. But Chudnovsky said one of the key challenges is to make it clear when users are actually talking to humans.

“We have to be transparent and make sure people know whether it’s a bot or a human answering them. The separation has to be very clear,” he added.

Where Messenger can shine is in providing context, he claimed. Rather than having to log onto multiple websites or check emails, Chudnovsky said Messenger can provide a “permanent context” so users are always in the same session and can easily look at records of communication.

He also answered a question on whether Facebook tailors advertising by listening into people’s conversations through the microphones on their devices amid accusations it is doing just that. Chudnovsky dismissed them, concluding: “The human brain is biased to jump to the simplest explanation.

“The reality is people are using Messenger so much nowadays that the possibility of something they talk about then appearing as advertising in their browser is a lot higher. We’re not using anybody’s microphone or listening into conversations to target advertising, I can promise you.”

Source:; 7 Nov 2017

Chatbots and the rise of conversational marketing

In an ideal world, every brand would be able to dedicate enough resources to give each customer the time and attention they need. Nothing can be as annoying for a customer as a bad or lacklustre customer service experience, where they feel that they were not being given the attention they deserved.

If a brand gives too many of their customers this kind of experience, they may find that they don’t have as many customers after a while.

In a survey of Fortune 500 marketing professionals carried out by LiveWorld, 52% of respondents thought that advances in technology would allow them to engage in meaningful two-way conversations with their customers. Social media, messaging apps and, in particular, chatbots are seen as effective tools to usher in ‘conversational marketing’.

“Conversational marketing is disrupting the brand playbook as consumers spend more time in messaging apps,” said Peter Friedman, Chairman and CEO, LiveWorld.

“Marketers must employ two-way dialogue tactics to boost consumer engagement, be in the moment, and foster lasting customer relationships.”

Conversational marketing is the shift away from brands trying to dictate to customers how to think and feel about products and services. Instead, through the use of chatbots, auto-responders and tech that integrates live agents, brands can actually converse with their customers in real-time, leading to personalised experiences and lots of lovely data on consumer intentions and behaviours.

Conversing with customers

55% of the LiveWorld respondents wanted to deploy messaging apps for the purpose of delivering better customer service. However, currently less than a third are using the technology to try have a positive impact on customer experience. 43% have deployed messaging apps in order to further marketing campaign goals.

Chatbots are the tool that most marketers anticipate allowing them to talk more with their customers. 40% anticipated that their company would begin to use more chatbots in the coming year.

“Chatbots are altering the future of brand marketing campaigns with conversations between brands and the always-on consumer,” says Friedman.

“Early adoption of messaging platforms enables natural and authentic engagement with customers and provides brand marketers with a competitive advantage.”

Source:; 14 Nov 2017

Shell-7-Eleven split: Why breaking up was the right move by Shell

Shell unveiled plans to end its 11-year partnership with convenience store chain 7-Eleven in a bid to take back its petrol stations in Singapore. A Shell spokesperson told Marketing the stores would be renamed as Shell Select and has also paired up with the likes of McDonald’s to offer “options that are aligned to its customer value propositions”.

Currently, the revamp is already underway and several industry players Marketing spoke to applauded the move by the petroleum giant, saying that this was a means for the station to “take back control” of the customer journey and create a more seamless end-to-end experience.

According to Andrew Crombie, brand consultant and former CEO at Fitch, Southeast and North Asia, the move will create a more seamless end-to-end experience to meet the demanding expectations of the modern mobile customer. This gives them a chance to break the predictable fuel/convenience model offered by most fuel brands.

Crombie added that Shell has an incredible asset in its distribution network, and a huge opportunity to gain first-mover advantage in reshaping the overall mobility and convenience offer against other fuel brands.

“It can’t fully realise this opportunity if it has to negotiate or coordinate each initiative with a third party operator,” Crombie said. He added that with the split, Shell will be in control of the convenience store and the products it offers. It will also have more opportunities to test new concepts and vary its offers geographically and create a more integrated overall concept for each site.

“A lot has changed since the relationship has started in 2006. Customers are more aware and more connected and their needs are different. And mobility is in the midst of a major change. To take best advantage of this change, Shell needs to be able to control every element of its overall offer and this move to part ways with 7-Eleven in Singapore makes this more achievable,” Crombie explained.

From a branding perspective, Crombie agreed that without doubt, 7-Eleven drew the short end of the stick as it loses a ready nationwide-distribution network with convenient parking, and with a regular and reliable clientele. He added:

7-11 loses significant brand presence as its signage numbers are reduced and the strong association of brand credibility and modernity that comes from Shell.

Agreeing with Crombie was Jane Perry, managing director of Geometry Global Singapore, who deemed the move strategic for Shell to better differentiate its business from competitors. The partnership with 7-Eleven, she said, made offering a seamless customer experience for its consumers challenging.

“This is because both Shell and 7-Eleven have strong brand equities – hence the seamlessness of the customer experience might be compromised in the process,” Perry said. She added:

It is also challenging to marry the brand equities of two retail heavyweight brands.

“The move will give Shell 57 more touch-points to engage and connect with consumers. This is something which it was unable to do before as it had no control of customers entering another retail environment,” Perry said.

Perry said the bold separation will give an opportunity for Shell to innovate throughout the entire fuel station experience and offer something different for consumers.

“Customer engagement through fuel stations is something which is still lagging behind in Singapore, when compared to the rest of the world. It’s an experience which at times still feels quite transactional and disjointed,” Perry added.

Simon Bell, managing director of FITCH said currently the partnerships in place between convenience stores and fuel stations are typical with nothing unique or differentiated. Bell added the move was smart of Shell to invest in its own brand and extend the customer experience from forecourt to convenience store, rather than to share its limelight and real estate with 7-Eleven.

“In branding, having an own-able experience is the holy grail. Done right, retail wields this power. To me, Shell is focusing on Shell (or finding new partners such as McDonald’s) that will assist it to achieve this. The point of difference will come in how the new relationship (whether convenience store, fast food or something else) can complement and enhance the Shell forecourt and station experience,” he added.

Source:; 3 Oct 2017

Qualtrics’ New Asia Pacific Study Reveals Top 10 Customer Experience Trends That Will Dominate the Region

Qualtrics, the leader in experience management software, has released its inaugural study on Customer Experience (CX) in Asia Pacific. Surveying 1,100 consumers across Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand, the study titled “The Asia-Pacific Region’s Changing Customer Experience Environment” reveals differing consumer perceptions in various markets and highlights the top 10 CX trends across the region.

CX has increasingly become a key differentiator for top Asia Pacific brands and can make all the difference between an organisation’s success or failure. Yet the reality remains that brands are still missing the mark with 80 percent of CEOs believe they are delivering a superior experience and only 8 percent of customers agree, according to Bain & co.

“Consumers in Asia Pacific have a wide variety of choice and if they do not like the service an organisation delivers, they will simply find another organisation that does it better. Ultimately, brands need to understand that nailing customer experience management can generate immense rewards, while getting it wrong will result in loss of customers, decreased revenue, reduced market share and even a damaged brand reputation.”, said Bill McMurray, Managing Director of Asia Pacific and Japan at Qualtrics.

With 63% of business leaders in Southeast Asia having listed CX as their top business priority, according to Forrester, more businesses in the region will recognise the need to increase their efforts across all customer touchpoints, and international companies will also need to pay more attention to localising their customer management initiatives. The study reveals these top ten CX insights across Asia Pacific:

Customers demand action – Approximately 75 percent of Singaporean and Hong Kong consumers indicated that it is very or extremely important for organisations to respond to their feedback, markedly higher than Australia (64 percent) and New Zealand (52 percent).

Ignoring feedback is a fireable offence – An average, 39 percent of respondents in the Asia Pacific region are unlikely to continue doing business with an organisation that does not respond to their feedback. Singaporeans are the most unforgiving – only 23 percent are likely to continue using that brand if their feedback is ignored.

Fix it the first time – Just 2 percent of respondents feel that first-time resolution is anything less than moderately important. Some of the top frustrations cited are having to ask for the same information multiple times, and not having issues resolved the first time.

Respond today, not tomorrow – Nearly half of all respondents (46 percent) expect a response from an organisation within the same working day. Hong Kong customers appear to be more demanding, with 68 percent expecting brands to reply to their feedback on the same day.

Beware of the experience gap – Organisations must prioritise minimising the amount of effort customers exert to have their issues resolved. Companies must learn what customers’ value most in the experience you provide to them and then ensure that these aspects are executed at the highest level.

Make customers believe – Make sure your consumers know that you are listening and acting on their feedback. While Asia Pacific customers are keen to provide feedback, with 83 percent being likely to complete a customer experience survey from an organisation they deal with, 37 percent of these customers are uncertain as to whether organisations listen to and act on it.

Invest in the online experience – Online processes and offerings makes organisations more efficient and enable rapid, effective scaling. Results show that more than half of Asia Pacific customers (58 percent) are open to making the leap to online-only offerings.

Be one easy call away – While customers are more open to online channels for services and feedback, brands should still make it a point to have their phone numbers readily available to customers in the case they feel they need to contact the organisation. 84 percent of customers thought it was important to have a company contact number on the homepage or within a single click of it.

Put security first – Customers do not always “see” your security, but they want to know that it is there. Walk the fine line of having publicly accessible information about the company’s security measures, without revealing too much information to potential data thieves. 87 percent of the respondents believe that it is very important to be able to trust organisations with their customer data.

Welcome new technology – 48 percent of customers would be satisfied dealing with an organisation staffed by artificial intelligence. However, companies must understand which customer experiences to optimise through technology versus the human touch.
When it comes to consumers’ preferences in Singapore, locals ranked service (22 percent), quality of product (21 percent) and value for money (18 percent) as the top three attributes they value when dealing with an organisation. In terms of communicating with a brand, Singaporeans listed email (49 percent) as their preferred mode of interaction over other channels such phone (23 percent), online chat (15 percent) or face-to-face (13 percent).

On the other hand, the majority of Hong Kong consumers found the product quality to be far more important (55 percent), followed by service (54 percent), and trust (43 percent). In contrast, they prefer to interact with an organisation via phone (31 percent), instead of email (30 percent), face-to-face (20 percent) or online chat (18 percent).

For most brands, creating a positive experience for existing consumers is the key to customer acquisition and retention. Qualtrics believes that companies are witnessing an “experience gap” – which is referred to as the gap between the experience that companies believe they are delivering and the experience their customers are actually receiving. Businesses today are awash with operational data (O data), which tells you what has happened. What they need to start collecting is experience data (X data), which will allow them to garner insights into why things are happening. Having both data sets will allow companies to reduce the experience gap and hence, positively impact the operational metrics of the business.

The multi-country customer survey was conducted online across four Asia Pacific markets, namely Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. Nationally representative samples of customers were obtained in each country, with fieldwork taking place in January 2017.

Source:; 2 August 2017

Lead with emotion, not demographic stereotypes: Forrester

Among a multitude of myths debunked by a Forrester analyst at CXNYC 2017, easy or automated experiences were proven not to be a method of instilling consumer loyalty.

Many executives believe that the easier a customer experience will be, the more likely a customer will be to return and become a loyal customer. However, during the June 21 session, “Love Machines: Emotion In A Digital World,” the analyst showed that those who have interacted with an actual associate who made their experience special, rather than a self-serve kiosk that was easy, produced a greater number of customers likely to be loyal.

“Companies are in this race to automate” said Anjali Lai, senior data analyst at Forrester, Boston. “The direction where the industry is going is to remove the human interaction and make experiences easy.

“But if we look at the intensity or quality of emotions, we see an interesting pattern,” she said. “Consumer effort can generate strong loyalty-inducing emotion.”

Debunking the myths
More than half of customers who interact with a real human feel satisfied, meaning they feel value or appreciated. These factors allude to a loyal customer.

However, those leveraging automated services simply feel happy or pleased with their experience. This means they were happy with their easy experience but it did not leave a lasting impression.

Another major myth debunked by the Forrester executive was the belief that women make more emotion-based decisions than man, but the research’s firms studies has shown this is not the case. Women and men are both equal in their emotional-based decision making.

The notion of this was also corroborated through social channels, in which both men and women expressed their emotions for a brand experience.

For younger and older demographics, those that were revealed as emotional buyers contrasted popular belief. The connotation in the past was that younger consumers made purchases based on emotion with the brand and valued experience.

However, older consumers were less likely to be unaffected by a brand experience and more likely to feel positive emotions after a good brand interaction compared to younger consumers who mostly remained unaffected.

Marketers should focus more on catering to the emotions of buyers rather than their gender or age.

In an example of how marketers can personalize in a physical space, Louis XIII de Rémy Martin created a setting for consumers to explore its history and experience its cognac with the opening of its first boutique.

Housed in the upscale Beijing SKP mall, Louis XIII’s storefront is seen as an opportunity to meet clients face-to-face, offering them bespoke services and experiences that go beyond cognac. Even with many luxury brands moving online, marketers are still finding value in the traditional bricks-and-mortar store.

LOUIS XIII Boutique _ SKP Beijing by Masao Nishikawa Photography Studio Co (PRNewsFoto/LOUIS XIII COGNAC)

Louis XIII boutique in Beijing SKP

Similarly, Italian furniture maker Poltrona Frau focused on the stories that happen around its designs in a series that zoomed in on one realistic home for an emotional connection.

Told in four parts, “Home Stories” weaved anecdotes about different members of one family, using its pieces as a set rather than the main character. Poltrona Frau made a conscious decision to make the home featured appear lived in and relatable, creating aspiration for its furniture in an environment that does not appear too staged or magazine-perfect.


Image from Poltrona Frau’s “Home Stories”

Technology takeover
Another common misconception is that technology is creating a void in human interaction. But those that interacted with a technology tool versus a human associate felt the same number of emotions.

Technology can be used to create the same feeling as human emotion through AI and various forms of technological advances.

“There is a pervasive anxiety or sensitivity that technology is taking the place of human interaction and stunting our emotional growth,” Forrester’s Ms. Lai said. “But that is not necessarily the case, and doesn’t have to be the case.

“When consumers are interacting with a brand, the number of times they feel a certain way about a brand is parallel through a self-service tool and interacting with a live person,” she said. “What does this mean?

“Instead of thinking of technology as an enemy or a barrier, you can use this to your advantage. You can leverage technology to forge a more personal human interaction with your consumers.”

Source:; 22 June 2017

The experience revolution: Mobilizing to win – are you ready?

Customer experience – an elite sport

Technology has always enabled companies to reinvent how they engage with customers. But now we are seeing a profound shift – the convergence of physical and digital customer interactions – which is fundamentally changing how customers will interact and transact with brands and businesses everywhere. To better understand these dynamics, the IBV is conducting a Customer Experience (CX) study, published as a series, with multiple reports organized by topic.

This second report in the series looks at how organizations are mobilizing to transform their CX. In today’s digital world, companies can maintain an intimate relationship with their customers and continually enhance experiences in ways that are affordable and immediate. We reveal how organizations approach CX ownership, strategy, cross-functional collaboration, use of data, use of Experience Design methods and customer feedback to enhance and measure CX. We also uncover the capability gaps that challenge some companies and provide a set of recommendations organizations can adopt to accelerate a CX-centric approach that is applicable today and can scale into the future.

Click here for the full report

Source: IBM Institute for Business Value; Aug 2016

The CEO Guide to Customer Experience

Companies that create exceptional customer experiences can set themselves apart from their competitors.

What do my customers want? The savviest executives are asking this question more frequently than ever, and rightly so. Leading companies understand that they are in the customer-experience business, and they understand that how an organization delivers for customers is beginning to be as important as what it delivers.

This CEO guide taps the expertise of McKinsey and other experts to explore the fundamentals of customer interaction, as well as the steps necessary to redesign the business in a more customer-centric fashion and to organize it for optimal business outcomes. For a quick look at how to improve the customer experience, see the summary infographic on the following page.

Armed with advanced analytics, customer-experience leaders gain rapid insights to build customer loyalty, make employees happier, achieve revenue gains of 5 to 10 percent, and reduce costs by 15 to 25 percent within two or three years. But it takes patience and guts to train an organization to see the world through the customer’s eyes and to redesign functions to create value in a customer-centric way. The management task begins with considering the customer—not the organization—at the centre of the exercise.

Click here for the full document

Source: McKinsey Quarterly; Aug 2016