Messaging Apps: Customer Service’s Next Frontier

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Every day, six billion SMS messages are sent in the US, about twice the number of phone calls made and roughly 25 times the number of pieces of first class mail processed and delivered by the U.S. Postal Service daily. Messaging apps is a $251 billion annual business and is forecasted to generate $1.279 trillion in revenues from 2014-2018 according to Portio Research. Messaging Apps

And it is positively ripe for customer service interaction.

Messaging apps, IMs and texts are a standard way of communicating and will soon become a standard method of transacting.  In Asia, you can buy insurance and apply for a mortgage via China’s WeChat. On Magic you can order a pizza and a Pepsi, sushi and some flowers, via SMS. And Tango lets members make purchases from Walmart.com without having to exit the Tango App. Soon everything you can imagine will be just a Snap story away.

Historically, consumers have practically begged brands for better customer experiences and since those pleas have been largely ignored, consumers are going out and creating them themselves.

Customer service is still an issues-based and reactionary ideology: when a customer has a question, comment or need, they have to figure out how to contact the brand they have the question or comment for. With a messaging app, like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Kik or iMessage, consumers feel more in control. Even though users are still technically using another app or platform, consumers are accustomed to using these services every day. When a brand comes to the consumer instead of the reverse, the consumer owns the conversation and can control the experience.

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The customer service possibilities in messaging apps are really endless. Bill pay notifications with one-click while still in the app. Sharing a pic of a travel destination with a friend on one chat and making a hotel reservation on another. The Aspect Consumer Experience Index survey showed that making customers feel like you know them promotes loyalty in 7 out of 10 consumers. And since these billion plus messaging-app users are only going to let in the people that know them, the sense of loyalty and long-term customer value is nearly assured.

Customer service has always been a fast follower to marketing when it comes to new channel adoption so it stands to reason that as brands start to see greater marketing engagement and outreach effectiveness on messaging apps that customer service is soon to follow. For example, Aspect Consumer Experience Index also found that text and chat usage with consumers for customer service issues would increase dramatically: 250% for chat, 367% for text.

The messaging movement has the potential to drive a billion-plus person exodus from the traditional customer-company interaction model to a B-to-Me environment where the user has complete permission-control of who they engage, how they engage them and what they engage them about. Brands that have paid attention to where their customers want to go, survive and thrive and for marketing and customer service organizations, the messaging economy is worth the attention.

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