Insights into the evolution of messaging
Leading collaboration and workflow company, Zendesk, recently announced its 2020 State of Messaging report. This is the third annual report highlighting expert analysis of the biggest trends in the conversational business landscape. The report combines interviews with market leaders across the landscape, with proprietary research and third-party data.
According to Zendesk, the messaging space has changed the way that we communicate drastically over the last decade. Messaging apps have now surpassed social media in numbers of global monthly active users. What’s more, people around the world spend more time messaging than on anything else. 87% of smartphone users access messaging tools, and 42% of people worldwide have a smartphone.
According to Zendesk’s Vice President, Warren Levitan, this is the year of connecting conversations in the enterprise, with more businesses embracing messaging than ever before. Zendesk’s State of Messaging reports examines some of the emerging trends in conversational business, offering insights into how smart speakers and voice assistants are converging with messaging, as well as how brands can navigate the new demand for messaging.
Zendesk noted that the leading application in the environment today is WhatsApp, which recently hit a total of 2 billion users, with Facebook Messenger in second place. WhatsApp is now the leading chat application in 112 countries, although WeChat continues to be more valuable in China. As more businesses connect to the WhatsApp Business API, Zendesk is seeing the number of messages flowing through the Sunshine Conversations platform growing at an incredible pace – at more than 3000%.
At the same time, although they’re not messaging platforms per se, voice assistants and smart speakers are standing out as an essential part of the conversational puzzle for companies. These tools are changing the way that we interact with brands and communicate. While Amazon might have been the first provider to grab our attention, countless new companies are entering the space. According to Zendesk, around 74% of customers are using voice assistants for research and browsing, while 54% use them for buying products, and 53% use them for customer support.
The trends in customer experience are growing more advanced. Zendesk noted that chatbots have been so thoroughly hyped in the environment that seven out of ten people say that they have chatbot fatigue. However, these tools are becoming a crucial part of the fabric of digital commerce.
At the same time, CX Trends reports by Zendesk highlight the fact that businesses are gradually embracing the idea that every customer interaction is part of a bigger conversation. These conversations now happen across a range of channels, with messaging and chat emerging as crucial for business and customers alike. New modes of conversation will continue to emerge in the year ahead. More businesses will discover the benefits of chat in 2020.
According to Zendesk, businesses are adopting messaging as a solution or the same reasons that customers appreciate it. 30% of companies offer messaging for a faster time to resolution, while 27% say it’s for 24-hour support, and 22% believe it improves agent efficiency. These tools allow agents to deliver more personal experiences to customers, while speeding up interactions.
Messaging is particularly common in the retail industry at present, where customer support can be offered along with conversational customer. Additionally, messaging apps now have the highest customer satisfaction rating of any channel at 98%.
Zendesk notes in their study that Facebook’s plan to merge the back-end performance of WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram will create a messaging ecosystem with more than 4 billion users. As big players continue to open their apps to businesses, there are new battles to wage in the quest to attract customers. One possible route forward, according to Zendesk, could be in-chat payments.
In-chat payments may lead to the rise of conversational commerce in the West, according to Zendesk. Already, Apple Business Chat has Apply Pay connected into it, and Facebook has numerous projects already in the works in the form of things like Facebook Pay. At the same time, companies will be working to make the messaging environment as seamless and engaging as possible.
Tools like typing indicators, emojis, read receipts and quick replies will continue to transform the landscape. Although Zendesk warns that it will be important for companies to continue taking human conversations seriously. Ultimately, chatbots won’t be a replacement for human interactions – they’ll be a way to help the customer service discussion flow more smoothly.
Zendesk’s report indicates that live chat continues to be a valuable channel for any environment in need of real-time conversations. Growing numbers of banks and hotels are beginning to create bespoke experiences in messaging apps for their customers.
Additionally, Zendesk notes that messaging is making conversations more accessible than ever before, allowing for the creation of more personalized and engaging experiences. Forbes indicates that 78% of businesses are developing customer data platforms.
Going forward, Zendesk believes that conversations will need to be connected across the enterprise, with marketing and sales having access to the first touchpoints in the customer journey. The future of conversational business may not be just about getting people engaged, it’s about curating conversations between people.
Zendesk notes that as platforms continue to increase support for conversations across tools, brands will need to determine how they can safely navigate their roles as community builders and gatekeepers in their environments.