Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Chat apps to emerge as critical customer touchpoint in 2023, says study

As businesses move online, one of their most formidable challenges is figuring out how to interact with customers digitally. Cloud communications platform Infobip provides one piece of the puzzle by revealing that chat apps are becoming a crucial communication channel all over the world.

In short, customers do not want just a quick purchasing experience — they are demanding a conversational one, according to the report.

Ivan Ostojić, chief business officer at Infobip, explained: “Our data reveals how conversational customer experiences are quickly becoming the new normal. Customers don’t want a one-way interaction with a brand. They want a conversation – whether for support, sales, or marketing.”

Infobip’s data comes from its analysis of 153 billion communications interactions on its platform from the first half of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.

As disclosed in a virtual press briefing last Dec. 15, their study discovered that customer communications today exhibited a 68-percent increase in interactions across all digital channels — especially chat apps — globally.

With the wide variety of platforms available, though, businesses are struggling to identify the right platforms to meet customers. Infobip urges companies to go for an omnichannel approach, or maintain a presence in multiple platforms, while also focusing their efforts on the most popular platforms in their locations.

Differing platform preferences between global and local markets

Infobip’s study found that WhatsApp is the undisputed global dominator in chat apps today. They estimate roughly 99 percent of customer support and chatbot interactions are now on WhatsApp.

They also pointed out that rich communication services (RCS) interactions, an upgraded version of SMS that enables users to send photos and videos on Android devices, showed a 68% growth and predicted its adoption in Latin America, Eurasia, and India. 

In the Philippines, however, it is Facebook Messenger, followed by the rapidly growing chat platform, Viber, that are the country’s most popular chat apps. Filipinos prefer these two channels because it is where they also stay in touch with friends and family.

Viber in particular doubled the number of interactions that occurred in its platform from 2022 to 2021. In 2022, Filipinos sent 234 million calls and 7.7 billion messages over this platform.

Infobip also noted that Viber had been aggressive in moving into different industries and is now used in everything from banking and finance, retail and commerce, transportation and logistics, as well as marketing and adverting.

Notably, though, traditional communication channels like text and email are still proving to be a staple in an organization’s toolbox. SMS and email showed a 75-percent growth and a 91-percent growth in usage respectively.

However, rather than continuing conversations with customers over this platform, SMS and email are typically utilized to deliver one-time PINs or send automated reminders.

Filipinos need for human interaction

Besides identifying where to meet Filipinos, Infobip emphasized that brands should cater to Filipinos desire for hybrid and personalized customer support.

Filipinos want to access not only efficient automated services, but also human assistants. Additionally, they hope to form a personal connection with a business in the same way they do with friends and family.

Infobip advised companies that one way to do this it to communicate with customers at each stage of their journey. By ensuring that customers can communicate with them from discovery of the brand through marketing all the way to purchase via customer service, Infobip holds that brands can increase customer loyalty and improve a customer’s lifetime value.

“In a nutshell, the customers want a one to one, hyper personalized or more personalized interaction with their preferred brands and customers also want a more automated approach and real time, ready 24/7 availability,” said Charist Montenegro, Infobip Philippines country manager.

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