The Rising Dominance of Messaging Apps for Customer Service

Customer service practices are always evolving, often due to new technologies that simplify and enhance the customer experience. Yet, with the hot new trend of conversational commerce, familiar names are surfacing as prime channels for customer engagement. The development of chat bots for customer service is certainly a technological advancement, but the platforms that host them are anything but new. Whereas messaging apps like WeChat, WhatsApp, Kik, and Facebook Messenger were once intended for personal communication, they have now become the ultimate channels for quick, efficient, and personalized customer engagement.A recent Business Insider report indicated that messaging apps have surpassed social networks in terms of monthly active users. The Economist also revealed startling statistics on the rapid growth of messaging apps and its projected future growth: Over 2.5 billion people currently have at least one messaging app installed, and the two biggest market leaders–Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp–are nearing one billion monthly users each. The popularity of these messaging apps is not just limited to personal communication either. In 2012 alone, PayPal mobile handled nearly $14 billion in payment volume, while Forrester stated recently that mobile commerce is expected to reach $142 billion in 2016.

Why the surge in popularity of messaging apps?

Simply put, messaging apps represent the intersection of everyday convenience, personalization, and advanced technology. They are convenient as many customers already use them in their daily lives and are comfortable and familiar with their use. They make customer service more personalized and efficient than ever given by enabling direct communication between customers and brands. As for enhanced technologies, the implementation of chat bots within messaging apps enables automated service with more in-depth support to save customers time and improve service all at once.Businesses in various industries are capitalizing on the remarkable opportunities messaging apps have to offer for increased customer engagement and brand growth. KLM is using chat bots through Facebook Messenger to allow passengers to receive such services as booking confirmations, travel itineraries, flight updates, and scheduling changes. Earlier this year, Gatorade turned to Snapchat, the ever-popular mobile photo messaging app, as a marketing channel for millennial engagement. In preparation for the Super Bowl, Gatorade created an ad that allowed Snapchat users to overlay an animated image of the drink over their photos, leading 165 million users to do so in just two days. In the retail sector, brands such as cosmetics giant Sephora and online clothing retailer Everlane have assisted customers with everything from product catalogue searches to making purchases through Kik and Facebook Messenger, respectively.Messaging apps are set to both simplify and enhance the customer experience while making direct customer engagement with brands more possible than ever. As a global leader in cloud-based contact center software solutions for customer service and sales, Vocalcom is taking customer experience into the future with its conversational commerce platform, offering a data-rich context that enables customers to switch easily between channels in a single interaction for superior service. Conversational interactions through text messaging, in-app messaging, and platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Telegram, WeChat, Viber, and more allow customers to engage with brands in real-time or asynchronously through a single thread. Currently, 40% of companies have seen a call deflection rate when shifting customers to SMS, and 23% have plans to add it this year, resulting in more than 60% of all contact centers offering SMS support by the end of 2016. Learn more about the Vocalcom conversational commerce platform for seamless and savvy customer experiences.

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