Will Social Messaging Replace Live Chat and Email?

July 15, 2019

There is a strong case to say that it will. Chat apps such as WhatsApp & Facebook Messenger is a fusion of both real-time chat (and all of the accompanying functionalities such as typing indicators) as well as asynchronous messages with notifications.

Asynchronicity is one of the key factors that makes messaging so convenient and powerful.

As consumers, we prefer to use messaging, as the chats are persistent, and not cluttered by junk. Each new conversation from a known contact is layered into the previous conversation thread, and not replaced with a whole new line item. This is why consumers are preferring to use these apps, rather than email.

Customers can start a conversation with brands, do something else more important and then pick up the same conversation right where they left off 30 minutes later. Gone are the days of being 100% engaged in a webchat and nothing else. Now you can order a coffee, talk to a friend, and have your service issue resolved all at the same time.

How important is conversation continuity?

While there are no public numbers, it’s fair to assume that conversation abandonment on live-chat and email are high. Customers engage, get distracted, and frequently meander away. With most live-chat vendors today, if that customer returns just a few hours later and renews the chat, everything starts over. This is because live-chat systems don’t have a way of validating individuals and resuming conversations. Social messaging channels easily solve that problem.

Social messaging conversations are both real-time and, if customers abandon the conversation, asynchronous. Because customers must be logged into Facebook to use Messenger for support, Twitter to use Twitter DMs for support, and/or WhatsApp to use WhatsApp for support, brands can save the conversation and pick it up where they left off for a faster, more pleasing support experience. What’s more, conversations can be managed by multiple team members, who can gain access to previous conversation history.

How important is agent/team productivity?

From website bubbles to typing indicators, live-chat and social messaging function very similarly. But for the agents managing these conversations within a business there are a few clear differences:

  • The asynchronous nature means that conversations can pause and resume between messages. Team members need to be able to have a real-time conversation while the customer is present, but be able to seamlessly shift to the next conversation if they are waiting on the customer.
  • Waiting on the customer can sometimes take days. This means the agent picking up that conversation needs to be able to quickly read up on the background of the conversation and continue where it was left off. Indeed, if an agent is picking up the conversation for a colleague who is not available (sick, holidays, different shift), then access to conversation history is a necessity.

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