Consumers love to communicate with each other over text channels and, according to recent studies, they are eager to use this mode of communication to interact with businesses. There are three main forms of text-based communication battling for the future: Messaging, chat, and texting.
With a very high adoption rate, it’s no surprise that messaging apps have scored billions of steady users. Originally preferred for person-to-person communication, the past few years have seen a surge of B2C communication via messaging channels (Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, etc.). The channel is shared with other companies using the same messaging platform and there is no per-interaction cost associated (as is the case with a customer call or chat). These apps provide a terrific conversational experience, having been optimized by years of consumer usage and grown with long-term investment from their parent companies. However, the downside of messaging is that consumers must have the relevant app installed, and an associated account set up.
Web-based chat has been in the channel mix for over 20 years now and is a well-established part of the landscape. To differentiate it from “messaging”, remember that “chat” is an owned channel the control and security of this medium lie with the company that purchased it. Unfortunately, “chat” faces uptake woes and the adoption rate is particularly low in the mobile context.
The main strength of SMS is its universality. Every phone in operation today (even “non-smart” ones) have SMS capability. SMS also has open rates as high as 98%. If a company implements a strong SMS communication strategy and follows some rules (seeking permission prior to texting, providing an easy opt-out, responding promptly, etc.), then it can deliver great customer service and build a lasting and loyal customer base. However, sectors that deal with sensitive customer information (such as government, healthcare, or finance) are wary of making Facebook, Apple or Google a messaging pathway for their users.