Did you get the message? Today’s consumers expect to interact with businesses the same way they connect with friends and colleagues, and that includes messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat. According to one study, 89 percent of consumers would prefer to use messaging when they need to contact a business, but only 48 percent of businesses enable such connections.

Many contact center operations today boast that they support omnichannel communications, but what they actually have would more accurately be considered a “multichannel” platform. They may support voice, email and chat, but these channels often exist in silos with little to no integration. The disconnect between channels is frequently a source of customer irritation.

We’ve all been there — extended hold times, repeatedly being asked for the same information, dropped connections, confusing menu options. This is precisely why messaging apps are becoming favored. You simply send your message and wait for the business to respond.

It’s easy and informal — there’s no need for subject lines or signatures or even formal sentence structure. It’s asynchronous, meaning that the two parties involved in a conversation don’t have to be available at the same time as with a phone call or a web chat. And, maybe best of all, it is persistent. The ability to go back and read the previous messages in a long back-and-forth conversation helps keep the exchange on track.

Messaging’s Growth

There’s no denying messaging’s popularity. According to a Forrester Research report, the number of consumers using messaging has increased by more than 50 percent since 2012. Millennials, in particular, are far more likely to send messages rather than make voice calls, exchanging an average of 67 text messages each day. It’s estimated that some 5 billion users across all demographics exchange more than 50 billion messages a day.

Messaging apps differ from previous generations of instant messaging solutions such as AIM and Windows Live Messenger. Those first-generation messaging solutions were primarily used via a personal computer or laptop, while today’s apps are almost exclusively used with mobile devices. More important, today’s apps allow users to send video, photos and audio along with text messages.

Making it Work

Adding messaging functionality to your contact center platform is a fairly straightforward process that doesn’t require you to rip and replace your system.  Application programming interfaces (APIs) serve as building blocks for adding messaging capabilities to your existing call center infrastructure.

Organizations can also leverage open APIs to develop custom applications while reducing the complexity of delivery and administration. Messaging integration enables visibility into all communications channels across the call center platform, giving companies valuable insight into customer interactions that can be used to make more-informed decisions, improve processes and enhance the customer experience.

The Washington Post has called messaging apps “the biggest shift in customer service since the 1-800-number.” Gartner analysts predict that by 2022 there will be a 250 percent growth in the use of messaging apps as a customer service channel, while telephone and email will sink by 70 percent and 60 percent, respectively.

With extensive experience in the design and implementation of contact center solutions, IPC can help you evaluate your options for integrating messaging capabilities into your current platform. Give us a call to learn more.