Communication platforms for business remained static for a long time.
First, there were the traditional platforms — phone, fax, and physical mail. Later came email, which dominated much of the communications landscape and almost completely replaced fax.
However, as we enter 2020, the communications landscape is evolving rapidly. Modern communications platforms like WhatsApp, WeChat, Telegram, Line, and others have started to play a huge role — not just in society, but also in B2C communications.
Right now, many businesses are holding back from adopting this change. Naturally, they prefer to stick to the traditional platforms they’re used to working with.
Why Embrace Messaging Communication Platforms for Business
There are plenty of reasons why businesses should look to embrace messengers in 2020. For now, let’s take a look at the three biggest factors:
Email isn’t the only option
Most organizations think of email as the communications platform for business. And there’s no doubt that email was a huge step forward from physical mail. But if you’re really honest, there are plenty of issues with it.
For a start, since all emails to an individual end up in the same inbox, it’s easy to miss things. Particularly since many people receive dozens or even hundreds of emails per day.
Email communications also become easily confused when someone responds to an old email in a chain (which happens all the time) or conversations take place across multiple threads.
And it’s not only businesses that can lose track of email exchanges — customers often struggle, too. For a start — unless they have notifications setup — email communications rely on customers remembering to check their personal inboxes, which many people don’t do regularly.
This can drastically slow down communications (and as a result, business transactions) and frustrate all parties.
Messengers have plenty of advantages
Right out of the gate, messengers are instant (really instant, unlike email which may go unchecked for days), convenient, and keep full customer conversations in one place. They’re also easier to use on mobile devices than email clients… and everything is done on mobile devices now.
Further, sending attachments like photos and scanned documents is much faster and easier than sending them by email, which forces customers to use an extra device such as a camera or scanner.
But in reality, none of these are the real reason why messengers are great for business communication platforms.
For most people, messengers have become an integral part of daily life. People have been trained to check and respond to messenger alerts immediately (even outside working hours) because it’s a convenient way to communicate with family and friends.
At the same time, messenger communications function far more like face-to-face conversations than an email exchange. People are accustomed to completing an exchange in a single sitting, just like they would if they met in person.
As a result of both of these factors, business communications via messengers naturally progress faster than they would via email.
And because messengers are so convenient and popular, most customers prefer using them (good example are stockbrokers). Email is practically dead for personal communications because messengers are so much more convenient.
And now, B2C customers are beginning to demand that businesses adapt to their preferred communications platform for business purposes as well.
Ignoring customer preferences isn’t a good idea
In the past, it was businesses — not customers — that set the terms for communications. But now? Customers are demanding that businesses meet them on their own terms. And if businesses fail to adapt, those customers will happily go elsewhere.
You don’t have to look far to see this taking place in the real world. In Asia, a huge number of people have completely replaced email with messengers, and many don’t even have email addresses. Messenger apps have become the center for daily communications, and have even expanded to cover additional functions such as payments. With this trend set to continue, businesses in Asia have no choice but to adopt their customers’ preferred communications platforms for business dealings.
And this trend is spreading. While email is still the standard channel for business communications in the US and Europe, it’s already plain to see that customers (particularly those under 30) are starting to prefer messengers.
Many young people now use messengers exclusively, and rarely check their email inboxes. As a result, any business wanting to do business with this demographic (which will only grow as time goes on) will be forced to adapt to messenger communications.
The Elephant in the Room: Control
With so many good reasons to embrace messengers as a communications platform for business, why are so many businesses still resisting? The answer is simple:
Until now, security, data ownership, and management controls haven’t been available for messengers.
For decades, email has been the #1 communication platform for business. As a result, all manner of technologies have been developed to ensure emails are secure, private, and centrally managed.
By contrast, messenger communications have been the digital equivalent of the Wild West:
- Employees have used personal devices to communicate with customers.
- Messages have been lost or fragmented between conversations with different staff members.
- Businesses have been fined and employees have been fired because sensitive information has been sent through non-compliant messengers.
- Businesses have even lost customers (or had customers intentionally poached) when employees left because the only point of contact was a messenger thread.
Clearly, none of these outcomes are desirable, so businesses are naturally wary of messengers.
Thankfully all of this is avoidable
By adopting messengers for business communications — ideally using a Federated Messaging Orchestration Platform (FMOP) — businesses can combine all B2C communications using messengers into a single, user-friendly platform. This effectively removes the barriers that stand in the way of seamless B2C communication and allows businesses to safely communicate with customers using their preferred channel.
Even better, an FMOP ensures all B2C communications are secure, compliant, and centrally controlled. That means:
- No more personal messaging accounts usage by employees.
- No forcing customers to download additional apps to communicate with your business.
- No missed, lost, or deleted messages.
- Absolutely no lost or misused customer data.
Put simply, FMOPs allow businesses to embrace new communications channels — and reap the benefits of doing so — while retaining (actually improving) all the security benefits of email.
Don’t Get Left Behind
As we mentioned at the start of this article, right now many businesses are fighting the shift towards messengers. But, as we’ve already explained, that’s not a good plan. It will put customers off — particularly younger customers — and could easily lead to lost business.
But more importantly, businesses have to understand that messengers aren’t a passing trend. They aren’t going to go away — quite the reverse. Within a few years, they will overtake email as the primary platform for B2C communications.
So stop fighting. Embrace messengers — and all the benefits they bring.
Not only will your customers be happier, but you will also be setting your business up for success.