5 Reasons Why Messaging App Customer Service Beats E-mail
Our Customer Service: The Rise of Messaging Apps series will delve deeper into the possibilities that messaging app customer service offers. In three installments, we’ll analyze the advantages of messaging app customer service as it compares to telephone hotlines, e-mail, and then a mixed bag of more “modern” options, such as apps, social media, and live chat. Today’s topic is Messaging Apps vs. E-mail.
5 Reasons to Choose Messaging Apps over E-mail for Convenient Customer Service
E-mails were once heralded as the modern, convenient way to communicate. Unfortunately for e-mail loyalists, that time has passed. E-mail is now considered slow, unwieldy, and unnecessarily formal. Yes, many of today’s consumers are still signed up for a variety of e-mail newsletters, but just as many leave the vast majority of newsletters unopened or delete them immediately. E-mail for customer service is also suffering. Toister Performance Solutions reports that customers expect businesses to respond to their emails within an hour, but a study by Stella Service shows that over half of retailers don’t respond to customer service emails at all. Engagement over e-mail is equally grim: a study from Epsilon showed that already in 2017, click rates in e-mails had stayed stagnant or declined for 14 quarters in a row.
What should a brand do to ensure they have an approachable, effective channel for customer communication? Switch to messaging apps instead of e-mail! Messaging apps have a variety of advantages – not least of which are the incredible usage numbers around the world, spanning all age groups. We’ve compiled the five top reasons that messaging apps resonate better with consumers below, to help your company choose the future of customer communication.
1. Modern and flexible
Forbes recently published an article explaining why fashion retailer TechStyle completely replaced e-mail with Facebook Messenger communication. Vivian Rosenthal, their Vice President of Strategic Operations, explained that they chose this channel specifically based on consumer behavior:
We discontinued e-mail as a service in North America in spring of 2017. When some people hear that we discontinued email, they think we’re insane, but we know we are only building ourselves up for the future evolution of service.
But what I saw in North America was that our consumers were evolving, and so were their “channels of choice”.
As consumers habits change, it’s important for companies to adapt to them. Today, convenience is #1. People are constantly on-the-go, doing as much as they can on their smartphone. Yes, e-mail can also be used on mobile — but why not take it one step further and communicate with your customer directly on the messaging program that they use all day, every day? Your customer can avoid the stress-inducing task of “checking e-mail” and simply navigate to iMessage, WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger, where you can offer them convenient service, on their terms.
2. More Personal
Adding to the increased flexibility is the added closeness to the customer. E-mail is currently primarily used for work, or for frustratingly slow communications with companies. If you can offer high-quality service on the channel where customers message their friends and family, then you position yourself as much more approachable and personable, and can gain more loyalty and trust. Facebook reports that worldwide, consumers overwhelmingly trust businesses more when they can message them. The formality of e-mail slows people down, whereas the relaxed tone on messaging apps allows 1:1 communication to strengthen the customer relationship.
Threads, an extremely successful messaging-only luxury boutique, attributes its success with a no-store, no-website model to the unique relationship that messaging apps offer businesses. Their president of brand strategy, Rachel Reavley, explained the personal touch of messaging to the Financial Times:
“It’s an unparalleled convenience, but it’s about being convenient for them in the way that they behave,” says Reavley. “The same with the messaging: that’s how millennials communicate with their friends, so it’s a really natural flow of communication. It feels totally organic. We’re not asking them to download an app or come to a website or check something.”
Over messaging apps, you can quickly and easily send users photos, videos, PDF files, or regular text messages to answer their question or resolve their issue – and your users can also send photos or videos to explain their claims or concerns. Of course, e-mail technically also supports multimedia, but between downloading attachments, scanning for viruses, and opening different applications to view the content, the path to the user is much longer. When was the last time a customer really sent your business an e-mail with a photo? E-mails are an intrinsically text-based format – over messaging apps, all media is equal, as long as it delivers the relevant content – whether you use GIFs, emojis, PDF files or more.
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A recent customer service benchmark study shows that the average response time for an e-mail is 12 hours — but it can also take up to 8 days. Automatic e-mail replies are usually standard text with no personalization, and are followed up days later. In contrast, messaging apps can offer almost immediate responses – and even pre-set automatic answers can easily be personalized. One of our e-commerce customers recently discontinued e-mail service in favor of Apple Business Chat and WhatsApp Business API after noticing that their average e-mail replies took 3-5 business days, whereas messenger replies could be handled within 3-5 hours.
E-mail service can get disorganized quickly. Some companies require you to fill out an online form and then they respond to you via e-mail – some companies will send an e-mail response as a separate new e-mail, rather than a thread, and some issues take so long to resolve over e-mail that you end up with an unmanageable history and a variety of different case numbers. Now take a look at your recent messaging app conversation. One clean, simple, conversation – and each time you write to the same person, the same history is pulled up, making it easy to look back at old messages.
Imagine this convenience for customer service! Each time a customer writes to you, you can see previous chats and how their issues were resolved, their customer profile with any important information. No matter how long the breaks in the conversation are, no one is going to start a new thread because they can’t find the last conversation – all communication remains within one chat. Depending on your platform, you can also add notes or ticket information to ensure that service remains consistent even after one ticket has been resolved. To see how the MessengerPeople Messenger Communication Platform facilitates this, see our product page or product video.
As communication becomes more and more mobile-focused, messaging apps will only grow in importance. Companies offering messaging app customer service already have a clear competitive edge over companies with slower, old-fashioned service. If you’re interested in specific tips on how to use messaging apps for customer service, messaging app usage data, or customer case studies, check out our free webinars:
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