Back to 2010, the first messaging app that i downloaded was WhatsApp. I love to use it because of its simplicity.
Since then, many messaging apps raise with their own differentiations, like WeChat, Viber, LINE, Tango, and many more, but for me WhatsApp is like a must-have messaging app i need to install, because almost all of my friends and family are there.
Since founded in 2009 and ended up with the $19 billion acquisition by Facebook in 2014, WhatsApp has a massive growth to 1 billion monthly active users with 30 billion daily messages sent in february 2016.
It was a big step that Mark did since $19 billion money is really really big for ‘just’ an app. Even American Airline Enterprise is just $11 billion if you have a chance to buy it. 🙂
But, I believe it was the best decision that Mark did too. Let’s compare about WhatsApp growth with Facebook
As you can see, WhatsApp has everything better growth than Facebook.
In a public Q&A sessions in November 2014 after acquisition, Mark explained:
“Messaging is one of the few things that people do more than social networking.”
Facebook has made huge movement in messaging, after that, they pushed their mobile users to use Messenger on separated app. Now Messenger has 900 million monthly active users.
These indicate Facebook believe social interaction will no longer happen in the public, instead transitioning in private sector, and messaging app is the best place to do it.
People is no longer going to tell their bad day story to the huge number of people, instead selecting a small group of people that care most.
It will change how people use social media when the feeds are not the first place people see.
According to Business Insider Research, People use messaging apps to not only for communicating with their family and friends, but also to connect with brands, browse marchandise, or watch content.
So, businesses should be aware where their customers go.
In this post, we will explore the challenges using Instant Messaging Apps as one of business channels to interact with customers.
Messaging Apps vs Live Chat vs Email
Instant means that assuming the people you want to target is online, the message will be received as soon as you send it.
People use instant messaging to communicate with because they expect the message will be received and answered immedietly.
That’s why when your customers contact you via instant messaging, they expect to be answered immedietly. According to a study, people want to be served on 2 minutes or less on instant messaging.
Instant messaging is a conversational channel, you can send something in short, and send another message thereafter. It is quite interactive.
Unlike email, instant messaging is suitable for simple issues that’s no need to take more time to solve.
Anyway, we’re talking about mobile instant messaging app, it is quite different with live chat.
You know when you decided to communicate through instant messaging, you need in the same place with your target or we called it a medium.
Live chat uses a website as a medium. When your customers want to talk to you, they need to access your website, so your live chat app can do the job. Moreover, both of you should be in the same time. Here is the cons.
When you and your customers are not in the same time, your customers may use your live chat you provide, but it is not instant messaging they will be received, instead transforming the message into an email.
Messaging apps require you to install the apps on your mobile phone. Let say if you want to talk with your friend through WeChat, both of you need to install WeChat. So, anytime you send the message to your friend, even you are not using the app, you still receive the notification on your mobile phone.
Unlike instant messaging, email is not restricted to the platform. As long as you have an email address, no matter what email provider you use, you can send the message.
But many people, including me, see that email is not interactive, but it is suitable for long issues.
Takeaway: Instant messaging app is great for conversational channel, customer service and engagement since it is interactive, but it is limited to the platform. You can’t contact people through WeChat, if they don’t install WeChat. In the other hand, email is universal channel, as long as your customers have an email address, they can send you the message without any barriers.
So many messaging apps
As I mentioned before, the biggest challenge you will face, when you decided to use messaging apps as your business channels, is there are many messaging apps out there.
Do you know how many messaging apps out there?
I believe it is more than 22 apps
As we noticed in 2016, here is the number of users of 6 popular messaging apps in the world.
As you can see, WhatsApp is still number one in number of users, but you probably need to take a look, a raising star messaging app, Telegram.
Since founded in 2014, Telegram has an extraordinary growth, compared with WhatsApp
When you start using Telegram for the first time, maybe you will feel it is similar to WhatsApp, but actually it is a little bit different.
One thing that i love to use Telegram is the mechanism of username. When you set your own username through the app, you can be found easily by your friends via global search.
Unlike WhatsApp, this mechanism allows me to ‘not to tell’ my phone number to people in some cases.
It is suitable for business. Similarly to Twitter, your customers just search @yourbrandname on the app to start communicating with.
With a lot of messaging apps out there will be new challenges and opportunities for business.
We also noticed that messaging apps are now more bigger than social networks.
Takeaway: Before you decided to use messaging apps as one of your customer channels, you need to do more research about what messaging apps your customers are, so that you can focus on something really matter.
The rise of bots
Bots make us rethink about apps.
According to a study by ComScore, people spent the majority of their time using only three apps daily, and they are messaging apps. It makes me think that i will prefer create something running on those three apps rather than create ones.
With bots, we can do that.
Bots are essentially software application with human conversation interface, mostly via text.
Unlike apps with several buttons or links as interface, you can navigate bots through conversational ways via texts. Bots don’t need to be downloaded, they live on the servers, and typically run on messaging apps.
Uber did it. They use Facebook Messenger to allow their users order taxi. People don’t need to install Uber apps to get a ride.
Telegram, Messenger, WeChat, LINE, and Kik are several messaging apps those’re really concern about this phenomenon.
Automation will make business become more efficient, some of the repeatable jobs can be replaced by bots, so that agents can focus on jobs those’re more important.
But, in the other hand it makes your customer human-to-human experience a little bit disturbed. I believe automation should enrich, not replace. So, human touch is still needed.
Takeaway: Bots are the biggest phenomenon today. It makes us rethink about apps. but, it will reduce customer human-to-human experiences, so you still need human touch when communicating with customers
SMS is old, but ‘still’ gold
SMS is like an old-hat and most expensive channel on the list, but it is still relevant to be used on business communication.
Unlike Instant Messaging, SMS is universal similarly to email. It’s not restricted to the platform. People using smartphone normally can send and receive SMS.
SMS is expensive.
On average, you need to spend $0.0238 per sms you sent.
But, some businesses still use SMS as their communication channels. The reasons are:
- The open rate of SMS is 98 percent compared with 22 percent for emails
- Text messages can be 8x more effective at engaging customers.
- Passbook retail offer campaigns deliver a 3x increase in incremental in-store sales when compared with the same offer via email. According to CTIA, there are 2.27 trillion text messages sent every year, in the US alone, which is 6.3 billion per day or about 20 text messages per person every day.
That’s why we see that SMS is probably an old-hat, but it is still gold.
As a business, SMS is a must-have channel you need to provide to your customers, besides instant messaging.
Takeaway: You will see trends in mobile messaging apps, but SMS is ‘universal version’ of messaging apps since it’s not restricted to platform.
Over to you
Well, you have read about what are the next hot channels for customer support and marketing.
But, before you decided to implement the trends, you need do more research, like:
Where your customers are?
How your customers do on Messaging Apps?
and so on..
So you can focus on what really matters.
I know several of those challenges we just discovered, may make you think twice to implement.
In Chatkoo, we build a tool that allows you to connect all of your chat accounts or even SMS into one simple dashboard with analytics, so you are able to do support in personal way without getting worried about scalability.
We noticed that Messaging apps will be the same as email, it is opt-in experiences, if you are interested in something, then you can decided to give them your contacts, it is much like that.