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Are chat apps a future channel for customer communications?

Are chat apps a future channel for customer communications?

Messaging applications are now a well-established part of the digital landscape. Apps like WhatsApp, Telegram and WeChat are more popular than SMS. WhatsApp alone is used by more than a billion people every day. And there are no signs of these apps losing popularity. With so many people choosing these apps to manage their communications, what can businesses do to keep up, and remain involved in the conversation? Before we look at how chat apps might play a part in the customer communications landscape, let’s explore why these apps are so popular. Why are people choosing WhatsApp over SMS?

Flexible chat

Chat apps make it easy to share messages with select groups of people. This makes them incredibly popular with groups of friends, families and colleagues. And because they’re free and easy to use, they’re ideal for organising group activities, like holidays, parties and hen weekends.

Chat apps often allow users to create large groups – making them useful for things like support groups and networking.

Free messaging

Chat apps use internet data rather than phone signal, so their use cannot be capped by your phone carrier’s tariff. While many people are limited to the number of text messages (SMS) they can send, chat app messaging is free (assuming the user is on WiFi).

Creative communications

Messaging applications make it easier to send more colourful and engaging messages. Gifs, pictures, voice memos, stickers and links – they’re all easier to send with WhatsApp than with traditional SMS or email. And these apps are always updating and adding new features.

WhatsApp for business

It was only a matter of time before chat apps launched offerings specifically for business users. And while some small businesses were already using WhatsApp to communicate with customers, there was no system in place for verifying business users – meaning that other users could easily impersonate a business. The new WhatsApp Business app is aimed at small business owners, but there is an expectation that an enterprise solution is in the works – perhaps in the form of an API that can be integrated with communications platforms (such as DocCentrics).

The future of communications?

Trying to guess the future of communications is a great sport (is it chatbots, AI, blockchain, voice, messaging apps or VR?) but also an important process for a company like ours that is focused on customer communications. Chat apps certainly seem like a good candidate for the future of customer communications; they have billions of users, increasing popularity, and they use technology that everyone already has.

Omni-channel communications are already here

While we wait to see whether chat apps gain a foothold in the customer communications arena, it’s important to note that it’s already possible to send messages to millions of customer across multiple platforms, channels and devices. At DocCentrics, we help businesses transform their customer communications by moving to a solution that enables cross-channel communications from a single interface. This means you can craft messages for SMS, email, letter and personalised microsite using the same platform and the same efficient workflow. Contact our team if you would like to know more.