Customer Support

Messaging Apps are the New Live Chat for Customer Service

By September 14, 2018 February 14th, 2019 No Comments
Messaging Apps are the New Live Chat for Customer Service

How come Messaging Apps?

Think about the last time you had a conversation with someone on an app. Was it something like, whip out your phone, read 50 characters or less, and reply with 50 character or less? Was the that interaction meaningful and full of information?

It probably was.

These days companies are moving in droves to reach out to constomers and users from the apps they feel most at home on. These kind brief, meaningful interactions are proving to be the new breeding ground for growing customer loyalty. If a customer can whip out their phone and chat with a brand like it was any old contact, that brand immediately has a point of engagement that rivals any other business that relies on live chat. Both Messaging Apps and embedded website live chat have similar functions, but it's live chat's minor faults that are causing it's greatest tumbles.

Live Chat For Support

If it isn't being used for customer support, it's being used for sales. Customers often have questions about items, usually physical ones, and if they can ask someone on the same page of the item that they're browsing, it just makes it much more likely that they'd purchase. There’s one thing that businesses love about live chat, and it would be the fact that live chat attracts leads like a magnet. Customer Service Report, 58 percent of companies using LiveChat use it for both sales and support and 23 percent of those companies use it strictly for support. Customers are more easily to be engaged in the conversation initiated by your sales agents because of its real-time conversation ability. Instead of having to wait for a whole business day to get a response, the live chat agent can solve their queries in 10 seconds, giving enough engagement, information, and education for a visitor to make a purchase.

You get a whole lot more basic information about the customers you are talking to – their names and location. You can decide how much effort you can put into on deploying human or virtual agent to handle the queries depending on the value of the lead. This can give you a bigger chance to engage the customers on a deeper level,  converting the visitors to paying customers.

But Live Chat is Running its Course

The initial problem that live chat was create for, was solved. Customers now had an actionable, instant way to engage with a brand. But society and technology, as usual, raises the bar, and now the problem with live chat is that the anonymity creates barriers. You basically know nothing about the customers that you’re dealing with once they reach out to you on your live chat. You don't have access to customer names, contact info, etc.  Customers show up anonymous on the website, agents have to ask users for their info, making the support process longer for everyone, and it makes the conversation extremely impersonal.

The other thing is that you can’t keep the conversation for long. Customers who leave before agents can get their contact information are lost forever. Even if they leave the chat, email tends to be the only way to re-engage a contact, making it difficult to pick up the conversation where it left off. 21% of live chat conversations go unanswered, and the average response time is almost 3 minutes, meanwhile more than half of your website's visitors are bouncing after 15 seconds on your page. Once the response time gets prolonged, the conversation gets colder and colder, until the user leaves, and it’d be incredibly hard for you to engage the customers back again once they leave. 

Some business are still not deploying live chat into their customer support system because it’s too formal. Once a user is disengaged, it’s difficult to hook them back into the conversation. Messaging apps tend to be more casual, so users are more forgiving of mistakes, informality, etc. Users feel at home on their messaging app, whereas live chat puts users at a formal position in which customers feeling like they’re having a professional conversation with the company, which can kind of put them off. Tiny features like agents knowing the contact's name, short colloquial messages, an emoji here or there, these little things all come together to personalize the experience, lighten the mood, and create memorable chats for customers to look back on fondly even if they had a bad experience with the product or service that initiated the conversation to begin with.

In Steps  Messaging Apps

You have one, I have one, we all have one. We might even have more than one. Messaging apps are smartphone applications that allow users to have conversations over the web, similar to SMS messaging, but more user friendly, integrated into social media, and with more features like file, image, and video sending. A few of the messenger that you're probably already using on your phone right now is Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, or WeChat. Messengers are becoming a major trend in customer service as a live chat replacement for its flexibility that it provides to customers.

Messaging apps give brands a huge advantage over live chat because of these three benefits:

  • Disrupt their daily lives.
  • Remove their anonymity.
  • Engage after they leave.

The old way of customer support is that you can only count on customers sticking to your website for any support they need. But there’s one big problem with that – it’s just tremendously inconvenient. No consumers would want to spend a good 20 minutes on your website just to have one simple problem solved. It’s a huge barrier for them, especially for those in the business who needs to multitask on several projects on the screen at the same time. Messengers allow them to choose to respond to the agent ONLY when they want to, no matter where they are.

True Flexibility

Most people you talk with on the daily could be in a real-time speedy conversation, or you could be waiting for a few hours for a response. Either way you don't complain much. So as a brand engaging it's customers, this kind of flexibility in response rate really does remove the need for a truly 24/7 support staff if your customers can leave a message and expect a response in the next few hours. The difference in a customer's forgiveness in response time between Live Chat and Messaging Apps is just truly astounding.

Breaking the Ice

If we had to make it into a spectrum with formality being on the left, and casual conversation on the right, on the far left would be Email, and on the right would be messaging apps. For visitors, email tends to be quite formal, and drawn out, and once live chat entered, things got a bit more casual, as one would have less text to work with to get the same information across. The real-time conversation aspect left some wiggle room for 'back-and-forth' conversation, so agents seemed more human to customers. 

Messaging apps seem to be the combination of both worlds. Users on messaging apps are more likely to treat a brand like any other contact in their phone, and will tend to be more casual when having a conversation with an agent on Whatsapp than they would with an agent directly on that brand's website. A lot of us text our bosses and colleagues on our phones. Think about how you talk with someone from work on Whatsapp, versus someone from work via email. Likely it was a lot more casual on whatsapp. Sometimes way more casual. Bet you felt elated a bit when you see someone in a professional capacity use an emoji in a chat. 

Just lifts up everyone's spirits, doesn't it? Communication likes this from a brand to it's website visitors would really break the ice and get the conversation moving. 

Pick Up Old Conversations

That might sound a bit freaky but here’s the thing: if you reopen the messenger one day and decide to pick up the conversation that you’ve left off ten days ago about the leather jacket on Nordstrom, you’ll still be able to continue the conversation as the chat history will still be there and so it’s all the answers that you’ve asked for in your previous interaction, which is something that a live chat couldn’t give you. 

Remove Anonymity

The moment a user sends you a message, you're immediately privy to their social media account information. So a user messaging a brand on Messenger already gave up their Name, their Messenger account, location, and more depending how their account is set up. Not only does this remove the industry standard of agents asking for name and email to new visitors, but this also gives the user a sense of engagement when an agent can reach out using their first name. Another form of ice breaking, and just one less step in the process of solving tickets, sales quesitons and FAQs. Here are Rocketbots, we collect all messaging accounts, no matter where they're from, and put it into one actionable place for brands to engage users who reach out to them. Check it out.

People Are Used To Messenger On Mobile

Think about it. People spend a large portion of their time using messenger apps to communicate with their friends, colleagues, and family. They are just used to it. It’s impossible to ask customers to stand by the website and wait for the agent to respond to your queries when they have 5-6 tasks to handle at the same time.

A neat example:

  • You send out a question about when will the River Island denim jeans will be back in stock on the live chat widget.
  • You close the app and message your friends.
  • 5 minutes later they send back a push notification to remind you about all the details related to the jeans. You can open the message whenever you want.

Here's the cool part, unlike live chat, the chat history will be gone forever the second you leave the website, and some live chat providers force users to pay extra to keep message history. In a messenger, you can open the conversation even a month later, even if you forgot about it, and all the information will be there to pick up the conversation again.

Fun fact: 1 billion messages are being sent monthly from trailblazing businesses. You can see how much bigger the messenger market is compare to live chat. The conversation is more continuous, spontaneous, and engaging.


It’s not without reasons that businesses are choosing to use IM-based communication for customer support. While emails are too slow to sustain a lead; phone calls are too cumbersome; and live chat are too impractical for its’ temporariness, it makes sense that companies are turning to instant messengers to better interact with customers.

It can just be expensive to really get a well-oiled customer service team up and running, versus using messengers that users are more forgiving on. You have to weigh what kind of needs your company is facing and to adopt the corresponding customer support system that you need, but over all the direction is moving towards messaging apps.

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