Managing Multiple WeChat Official Accounts

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One of the foundations for a brand’s success on WeChat is setting a unified brand strategy for managing multiple WeChat official accounts. In our last post, we wrote about helping your customers find your official accounts by policing fake accounts and trademark infringement Equally important for large brands, with potentially hundreds of official accounts, is your internal strategy. Let’s look again at what a BMW customer or sales lead sees when she searches for “BMW” or “宝马” official accounts. Not only does she have to filter through several fake accounts, she also has to navigate over two-hundred individual dealerships. 

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Like any brand with outlets or subsidiaries, individual BMW dealerships have their own management, their own deals that they offer, and of course their own WeChat official accounts. How can BMW funnel users to the account that will best be able to help them? What are the best practices for protecting your brand standard experience and providing unified messaging across multiple channels?

Standardize Your WeChat Account Branding

Looking at the list above, BMW account names mostly follow a similar format to designate the dealership. Their icons are mostly similar and many of the dealers have verified their accounts. At the same time, there’s no obvious unified account for BMW and we get different results searching in Chinese versus English.

These issues aren’t unique to auto manufacturers. Chains, franchises, and subsidiaries of any kind need to provide both a brand standard experience and localized service. It’s important to have policies in place to avoid confusion, and help customers find your accounts.

  1. Set account name and branding conventions. Have all of your subsidiaries register WeChat accounts that follow a specific name format makes it more likely that they will appear together in search, and helps distinguish them from fake or similarly-named accounts (fan clubs, etc.). Provide a template for your subsidiaries to use when creating their icon. Note: You cannot change an account name or WeChat ID after it is set, but the icon can be updated once every thirty days.
  2. Verify all official accounts. WeChat lists verified accounts first in search results, and the verified badge gives customers confidence that they have found an official channel.
  3. Set an account promotion strategy. Most account discovery is happening through QR codes. Help customers by standardizing where they can find your QR codes, both offline and online. Consider requiring that any subsidiary promotional materials include your brand’s official account QR code alongside the subsidiary QR code.
  4. Enforce content and usage guidelines. This is an obvious one, but there are special considerations for WeChat. Beyond what content and how often accounts broadcast messages, how fast are you as a brand responding to customer service inquiries? If subsidiary accounts are using WeChat menus, consider setting a template so when a user visits another subsidiary account, that location’s contact information or local specials, for example, are in the same place.

Interconnect Your Official Accounts

If your brand uses WeChat for sales or customer service, subsidiaries can be valuable but challenging to integrate into fluid conversations. In our initial consultations with clients,  one of the most helpful exercises we do is map out all the possible user flows through their various officials accounts. Where are unknown/first-time users routed? If you’re not providing 24/7 support, how do you manage offline messages? How can you transfer conversations from your brand to a subsidiary and vice versa?

WeChat Userflows: What’s Possible

Take for example a hotel guest, who makes a last-minute booking through Marriott China’s WeChat account. At the end of the booking, can they hand off the user to the concierge at that property so she can book an airport pick-up?  Can they prevent the customer, who they already have in a dialog, from having to exit the conversation and page through all of Marriott China properties before finding the correct hotel’s WeChat account?

WeChat does not currently support either internal (agent-to-agent) or external (official account-to-official account) routing. However using WeChat’s public developer platform, Grata provides out-of-the-box internal routing for WeChat and can custom arrange solutions to solve for almost any external routing configuration. This works for brands operating under one consolidated WeChat official account or brands managing multiple WeChat Official Accounts.

WeChat Official Accounts routing UX diagram

The Value of Networked Accounts

The value to brands of interconnecting official accounts should not be underestimated. Here are four of the biggest gains:

  1. Shared WeChat CRM Database – One of the most important tasks when using WeChat for business is identifying who a user is from an often nondescript WeChat User ID. If you’ve already done this for a follower of one of your official accounts, why not make that information available when that user messages any agent across your entire chain?
  2. Simplified Account Discovery – Using Grata a follower of any one of your WeChat official accounts can be connected to any agent across your entire brand. Lessen the burden on your customer to locate the right official account and make brand loyalty more convenient.
  3. Cost Savings – It might be impractical for your outlets to all offer 24/7 support, or support in multiple languages, but one centralized customer care team makes this achievable for many brands. The central team can pick up messages in the off-hours, and subsidiary agents can transfer multilingual conversations to a native speaker with one-click.
  4. Brand Standard Quality of Care – If you want to roll out a consistent quality of care across your entire chain, the only way to really support this is by having visibility into all your brand’s official accounts and having a centralized customer care team to step in if any single subsidiary isn’t able to support the initiative. You can also share digital content and prepared responses across your brand so every subsidiary is using brand standard messaging.

If you want to learn more about how Grata can help you manage your brand’s WeChat Official Accounts, contact us, or if you already have a verified WeChat Official Account, take us for a free test drive.

Photo credit: rajomo1 / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)