More and more employees are using their personal mobile number for business activities. Various instant messengers are already associated with the mobile number. Due to their simplicity and speed, these are becoming the universal communication tool for all personal and business issues, thus conquering companies. Already today, eMail has been largely displaced by instant messengers in some regions of the world.
Instant messenger platforms have been around since the dawn of the Internet. It’s been a long time since AOL or MSN Messenger dominated the market. Since the introduction of the iPhone, mobile has changed our lives and the corporate world, and new instant messengers have taken over the world. In all regions of the world, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Telegram and Line are the leading messaging platforms. Users primarily use these platforms to stay in touch with family and friends, but are increasingly using them to interact with businesses.
In 2 waves to the use of instant messengers
At RELE.AI, we believe there are two waves in which instant messengers will permeate businesses.
The first wave is the most obvious use case: customer service and call center operations. In this area, we are already seeing significant innovation and growing competition. Many companies already allow their customers to contact customer service via instant messenger (e.g. WhatsApp Business). This allows customers to make simple inquiries about their products, usage, bills, etc. Often, the inquiries are filtered through a chatbot to relieve the call center. The benefits of this form of interaction are obvious: with the reduction of telephone inquiries, call center operations can become much more efficient and significant costs can be saved.
The second wave is based on the use of these apps to handle business processes in companies. Business customers are also increasingly demanding easier, faster and more direct communication with their suppliers. They are used to the simplicity of private communication with messengers and do not want to do without it in business life either. To meet this need, companies must adapt their processes: Sales personnel from the field as well as from the office, consultants of all kinds, intermediaries – in short, all employees with a direct customer relationship in the business-to-business segment can offer the customer an entertaining, personal and interactive experience by using instant messaging from their personal accounts, thus creating a closer relationship with the customer.
4 reasons why instant messages become important
Here are the four reasons we believe instant personal messaging will conquer businesses:
1. Mobile subscriptions
Fewer and fewer companies are offering their employees mobile devices. At best, they still offer employees subsidies for the mobile subscription. This means that employees also use their personal phone number for business communication. In this case, the mobile number is already registered in platforms such as WhatsApp or Telegram and the use continues without restrictions in the business environment.
2. User experience
Users don’t want to learn new systems, they want to continue using the features they are used to. Today’s messaging platforms are designed for maximum simplicity and ease of use. It has never been easier to combine communication with sending documents, pictures, voice messages or videos. Instant messaging platforms have thus become so ubiquitous that they have become universal communication services. Apart from being free to use, this is certainly the main reason for the enormously fast and global spread of these platforms. So why use anything else?
3. Future working environments
The future of work is increasingly defined by virtual and mobile working environments. The current pandemic in particular has shown many companies that the continuation of work can only be managed through virtualization. Companies that have combined mobile working and comprehensive home offices with virtual tools in good time have been able to maintain their operations even in these difficult times. More companies will continue to adopt mobile and virtual work environments in the future. This process will be greatly aided by a variety of improved and new applications for interactive virtual collaboration. The use of such interactive platforms will increase sharply in companies and replace purely in-house platforms even faster.
4. Business Messaging
This makes instant messaging an essential tool for all employees. Since WhatsApp will reach around 3.1 billion users by 2024, it is a logical consequence for companies to establish WhatsApp as the most important instant messaging platform as a serious customer interaction channel due to its reach. Other platforms certainly also offer very good functionalities, but remain less interesting for companies due to their lower penetration.
We believe that instant messaging will have a growing share in business communication. However, the use of personal accounts of instant messengers have a not insignificant disadvantage: the conversations with customers all remain stored in the personal account of the employee and the company cannot use the information for updating a sales funnel, for example. For this reason, we decided to build the technical bridge to interact with enterprise systems like CRM without ever leaving their instant messenger.
Today we already see world regions, such as Latin America or the Middle East, where email has already been almost completely replaced by WhatsApp. This is not only for personal communication, but also for corporate communication. Entire offer and contract processes are already being handled via WhatsApp today. However, this raises the challenge of how the important content of customer conversations can be used productively in the company. After all, processes can only be handled efficiently if the information is available to the company. Thus, integration into existing company systems becomes a central key to success.
Author: Kurt Infeld, CMO @ RELE.AI