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Messaging: The Top Four Channels and How to Select the Right One

Ring Central Blog

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4 min read

As part of customers’ communications shifting to digital, messaging is one of the fastest growing channels: 67% of people now expect to use messaging apps to talk to businesses.

To accompany this trend, GAFAs are opening new business messaging channels such as WhatsApp Business Solution and Apple Business Chat. While they may look similar at first glance, each of them have their specifics in terms of user base, features, entry points…

We have gathered the top 4 messaging channels to help you understand their specifics and choose the right one(s) to engage with your customers.

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1. Facebook Messenger

With 1.3 billion users worldwide, Facebook Messenger is one of the most used messaging channels. It helps people around the world connect easily, with features such as text messages, video chat, group conversations and voice calls.

In 2016, Facebook Messenger was the first messaging channel opening to businesses. At that time, companies already had a presence on the social network through business pages, mostly used for marketing purposes. Customer interactions were happening in public (through comments or wall posts), making it harder to solve issues and presenting more risks for the brand image.

Messenger opened the way for companies to talk with customers in a private way, enabling to share confidential information. Messenger for Business is now a major customer care channel, with 20 billion messages sent between people and businesses every month and 300,000 active Messenger bots on the platform.

Facebook encourages the use of Messenger as a customer care channel with features like Messenger Customer Chat. This embeddable plugin offers customers the ability to initiate a conversation while browsing a company’s website. Unlike live-chat, it keeps the conversation history, allowing to continue the interaction via desktop or mobile.

Key facts:

Why choose it?

2: Apple Business Chat 

Apple Business Chat is a feature enabling customers to interact with brands through the Messages app from any Apple device (iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch). Deeply integrated in the Apple ecosystem, Apple Business Chat allows to initiate conversations from apps such as Safari, Maps, Spotlight, and Siri.  

One of its main advantages is that it does not require any installation: Messages is the default app for sending texts or iMessages from all Apple devices.

Apple built native features making the customer experience better on this channel such as scheduling appointments, choosing options (color, size…) or complete secured payments via Apple Pay.

“Chat Suggest” is a new feature of Apple Business Chat, helping call deflection. When customers tap on a phone number using Apple Business Chat, they will see a “Message” button. This encourages them to use messaging rather than phone calls to contact the company, helping to get a more seamless experience and faster resolution.

Key facts:

Why choose it?

3. WhatsApp Business Solution

WhatsApp has 1.5 billion users worldwide sending 65 billion messages daily via the app. WhatsApp allows to send a variety of media: text, photos, videos, documents, location and voice messages. The app ensures confidentiality: all messages are secured with encrypted end-to-end, meaning that no third party can access it.

The WhatsApp Business Solution enables companies to adopt this channel with an official business account and manage large volumes of interactions. 

Customers can opt-in to start a conversation with businesses who then have 24 hours to reply. To answer after that initial period, companies will be charged with a fixed rate by country per message sent. With this approach, WhatsApp encourages companies to provide quick answers, adapt to customers’ expectations on messaging channels. 

Key facts:

Why choose it?

4. In-App Messaging

Thanks to In-App Messaging, companies can integrate into their mobile applications a messaging interface, similar to the Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp ones. It includes features such as media sharing, emojis, voice messages… Unlike external messaging apps, the interface can be customized by the brand (visual identity, identification with customer account) and it doesn’t require customers to leave the app.

Another advantage is that the brand has a full control over the experience and customer data. When the user is logged into his account, it is possible to retrieve more easily all customer information, contributing to faster resolution

A brand application is a large investment for companies, and getting an ROI on it is a major challenge. Thanks to In-App Messaging, companies add more features to their app, encouraging users to keep it over the long term. 

Key facts:

Why choose it?

 

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Conclusion

Gartner predicts that by 2022, phone conversations will make up merely 12% of customer service interactions – vs 41% in 2017. The use of digital channels is already growing quickly, and messaging channels are becoming essential for adapting to customers’ preferences. 

After defining which channels are right for your strategy, think about how to integrate them in the customer journey. To process large volumes of interactions on multiple messaging channels, it is necessary to centralize their management. With an omni-digital customer engagement platform, your agents answer enquiries on multiple channels from a single interface, increasing productivity and reducing response time. Moreover, when new messaging channels are rolled out for companies, you will be able to integrate them smoothly into your strategy.

Originally published Jul 12, 2019, updated Aug 09, 2021

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